Monday the 26. August, the governments
of the world, the United Nation agencies, multilateral financial
institutions, concerned citizens and other major participants meets
to assess global changes since the historic UN Conference on Environment
and Development (UNCED) of 1992 in Rio. The objective of the Johannesburg
summit is for the world to take a critical look back at UNCED and
aim to arrive at an extensive, frank and useful review of the past
ten years. The Summit will take place at a time when most participants
recognize that the governments of the world are far from meeting
the targets they set in Rio in 1992.
Few if any of the promises from Rio has been
met. The total emission of greenhouse gasses has increased significantly;
the forests are even more threatened than they were in 1992, deserts
are still spreading fast, water is increasingly in short supply;
3-4 species become extinct every day; dangerous chemicals are still
spreading all over the globe and the greenhouse effect is intensified
through the continued production and use of fossil fuels. As for
social issues, the poorest fourth of the world population still
has very poor access to energy/electricity, education, health, food,
clean drinking water and sanitation etc. In some respects the poorest
countries are even worse off than they were in 1992. This is e.g.
the case when it comes to food security and nutrition. In many countries
it is evident that the per capita intake of proteins has fallen
during the past ten years. The rapid spreading of HIV/AIDS is increasingly
hampering the poorest countries' possibilities of a sustainable
development. The increase in population is still markedly larger
in the poorest countries and the global part of the poor is therefore
rapidly growing. The richer countries have not met their obligation
to allocate 0.7% of their annual GDP to assist in the developing
countries. On the contrary the aid has dropped over the past ten
years and reached about 0.22% in 1997.
New opportunities but little willingness to
We have larger problems ahead of us than
ever before, but on the other hand we have never had better opportunities
to solve them. The past ten years have given us new technologies,
new knowledge, new international agreements and new fora for negotiations.
A new awareness of the limitations of the resources of the earth
is also gaining ground in more and more populations with increasing
influence on consumer patterns. But the pace of changing is much
too slow. The world needs urgent action for sustainable development
now; real agreements, binding rules and time limits as well as means
for their implementation. But, unfortunately, the rich countries
- especially the USA - have shown very little willingness to live
up to their responsibilities.
"The American way of life is not up for negotiation"
- not even when life itself for people and other species is at stake.
This is the core of the American contribution to global sustainable
development. USA has worked hard to weaken the plan of action throughout
the preparatory process of the Summit and is now showing its final
contempt for the international community by not sending its highest
representative to the negotiations. President Bush stays at home,
cozy at his ranch, while millions of peoples' lives are at stake
in the complicated process of finding a way to global sustainable
This is not good enough. This is not sustainable.
The preparation of the Summit has officially
brought forward only two significant political agendas. The African
New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Danish
suggestion of a Global Deal. The American agenda has not been brougth
officially forward, but it is clear to all, that it is all about
protecting the status quo of the American way of life - whatever
the cost to the rest of the world. More details on this will be
revealed on this page soon. Below you will find more about NEPAD
and Global Deal.
for up to date information
on the Summit and the agendas.
NEPAD: the New Partnership for Africa's Development
is expected to be at the forefront of debates in Johannesburg, and
should be familiar to all delegates from Africa. This folder includes
full text. A good summary of NEPAD, in addition to various comments,
can be found in the paper
presented by Seth Doe Vordzorgbe from the West African NGO network.
'Overall, NEPAD is a positive framework, although its economic framework
is grounded in the classical orthodox paradigm,' writes the author.
A total rejection of NEPAD is provided by the African
Civil Society Declaration from Port Shepstone, which sees the
whole initiative as a lifeline for neoliberal globalisation and
foreign plunder of the continent. In the menu to the left, you will
also find, for instance, some comments
by African civil society, the critical Accra
Declaration, and a discussion
paper linking NEPAD to the Global Deal written by Saliem Fakir,
Director of the IUCN's South Africa office.
Deal': this concept basically holds that the rich North should
provide open markets, aid and technology in exchange for the poor
South undertaking progressive reforms and environmental protection.
Danish government's general proposal and the South
African government's contribution may still be too ambitious
for decision-makers at the WSSD, the basic idea and step-by-step
negotiation of such a Global Deal is likely to remain at the heart
of North-South cooperation in the near future. It may also be an
effective approach to advocacy and lobbying: 'you give something,
you get something back' -- without forgetting that each measure
considered in the deal is usually in the interest of both parties.