danish version

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.


Non-sustainability prevails

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 change

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 development.
This is not good enough. This is not sustainable.


Policy Issues

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.
Check www.rio10.dk 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 NEPAD's 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.

'Global 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. Although the 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.