BALI, Indonesia, June 8, 2002 (ENS) - Ministerial level negotiations on the political declaration for the World Summit on Sustainable Development have failed to yield an agreement, particularly on issues relating to trade and finance. The remaining unresolved text will be forwarded to Johannesburg to be dealt with at the Summit which opens August 26.
WWF, the international conservation organization, expressed disappointment with the outcome of this last preparatory meeting. "Conflict and disinterest has been apparent as different nations and blocs pursue their own narrow interests at the expense of the poor and the planet's future," the group said.
Finance, trade, globalization and implementation top the list of outstanding issues, along with climate and labor standards.
"This meeting shows we must wake up, something is not well," Salim told tired delegates in the early hours this morning. "There are still important differences between North and South, principal disagreements between developed and developing countries."
"Can we close these differences?" Salim asked. "These are the main troubles that will dictate whether we will meet in Johannesburg and reach for consensus or not."
Ministerial level negotiations continued throughout the day behind closed doors where discussions stalled.
In his closing statement, delivered well after midnight, Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai of India said decisions were being made "by exhaustion" or "by asphyxiation" in the crowded conference rooms.
While contentious issues remain, Desai reminded delegates of what they had achieved. "I have participated in eight UN negotiations," Desai said. "We are going to the final stage with more agreed than in any of the others."
"What is left is very difficult and will take a great deal of work to resolve," said Desai, "work at finding political space for compromise. What it requires is the political will to find common ground. That is the challenge between now and Johannesburg to find that space in the areas that have not yet been agreed."
The environmental organizations blame the industrialized countries for the failure to reach agreement at the preparatory conference. "Bullying by rich nation blocs has rarely been so heavily employed in international negotiations, and seldom has so little been produced by way of concrete results," the WWF said today.
"This meeting could have been a step to a better world but, instead, the governments showed neither leadership nor vision," said Kim Carstensen, head of the WWF Delegation to Prepcom IV. "In particular the United States, Australia and Canada have employed systems of horse trading and corridor deals," he said.
Greenpeace launched its Countdown to Johannesburg today, to urge a real action plan, "which tackles poverty and the environment, and climate change, with concrete goals, time-tables and means of implementation," the group said.
The WWF is calling on the powerful nations to re-examine the way they do business and to take concrete action on key issues including clean water and energy access. The group said, "There is an urgent need to move towards clean and affordable energy for the world's poor, and to secure their access to clean water through sound management of river basins."