August 31, 2002
Special Earth Summit II Compilation
I've spent over 8 hours researching relevant material for this Earth Summit II compilation - especially for the "Complementary information" section below - as what is happening now in Johannesburg is going to have serious repercussions for years to come. Please give all this a good look.
I also recommend to extend the current Meditation Focus #70 (archived at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus70.htm) for another week so we may assist in fostering more positive results from this summit.
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
1. People Power by Jane Goodall
2. Severn Cullis-Suzuki: A call for action by young people
3. The sham summit
4. George W. Bush, Meet Maurice Strong
World leaders head for Earth Summit (August 30)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - It's going to get up close and personal at the Earth Summit, as wrangling between officials from rich and poor nations over abstruse diplomatic language gives way to the arrival of squabbling world leaders themselves. (...)
Earth Summit feuds fester over rules for business
Summit negotiations 'fall dramatically short' (August 30) http://www.oneworld.net/cgi-bin/index.cgi?root=129&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epanda%2Eorg%2Fnews%2Fpress%2Fnews%2Ecfm%3Fid%3D3126
The first week's negotiations at the "Earth Summit" in South Africa were a failure, with the economic interests of the rich being put before those of the poor and the environment, WWF, the conservation organisation, said today.
CORPORATE-FREE UN: Earth Summit Opens With a Bang (August 26)
Harsh Police Action, a discussion paper pushing a free trade agenda and a diverse People's Forum are all in the spotlight as the Earth Summit opens. (...) Charles Secrett of Friends of the Earth said that the US is using the seductive language of sustainability to cloak a business as usual agenda. "Off the record, developing country delegates share the same concern, and are fed up US bullying." (...) The People's Forum: For those who cannot or do not want to attend the Summit proper, about an hour from the Summit is the Global People's Forum, where civil society bursts with diversity. At the Forum, the vast exposition hall has a bewildering diversity of exhibits -- but almost no visitors. (...) At the 1992 Earth Summit, for the all the contentiousness, hope permeated host city Rio de Janeiro, as new understandings about how to save the earth emerged and thousands dedicated themselves to doing just that. This time around, the high hopes are to avoid utter failure and violence. What a difference a decade makes. In the intervening ten years, we ran smack into the sobering reality that the world's most powerful governments and corporations weren't all that interested in sustainable development after all. Rather they are interested in free trade and big business-friendly investment rules, leading to debt and dependency for the South, with environmental protection and poverty alleviation strictly at the margins. The theme of corporate accountability, pushed by leading environment and development groups, has no chance at the Summit, except in so far as business may co-opt the phrase to mean something similar to voluntary corporate social responsibility. In fact, Summit organizers see corporate partnerships --not democratic control of corporations -- as the "innovative" agreements that will save face. That is, at least enough that the Summit will not be declared a fiasco. It is still two weeks too early to declare that the Summit should not have taken place. But it is clear that the political conditions are not right for an advancement of the Rio agenda. CLIP
Bali Principles of Climate Justice (August 28)
An international coalition has released a set of principles that "put a human face on climate change." The watershed document looks at global warming from a human rights and environmental justice perspective.
TAKE ACTION! Send a SOS to world leaders at SOS Planet action site
It is an attempt to raise awareness of the fact that world citizens are concerned that their leaders will fail to take action in Johannesburg.
WWF position on the World Summit on Sustainable Development
US Democrats say Bush blocking Earth Summit goal (August 30)
JOHANNESBURG - A delegation of U.S. congressional Democrats accused the Bush administration yesterday of blocking plans to alleviate poverty and promote clean economic growth at the U.N.'s Earth Summit. (...) "The United states has a special obligation and opportunity (to promote clean growth) as the world's richest nation and its biggest polluter," said Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. The U.S. has said it will accept no binding targets for those goals and would offer no new aid money in Johannesburg after pledging to raise aid at a summit in Mexico in March. CLIP
Embattled U.S. goes on offensive at Earth Summit
Hitting back at critics who brand it the uncaring tool of greedy big business, the Bush administration showcased hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid projects at the Earth Summit Thursday. But Third World activists and environmentalists, as well as opposition Congressmen, cried foul, saying the money was not new and involved partnerships with corporations that would profit more than the poor billions in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Corporate Capture by George Monbiot, The Guardian
If the world's transnational corporations have their way, the Earth Summit in Johannesburg will not only fail to tackle the ecological crisis, it may make it worse.
Earth Summit feuds fester over rules for business (August 30)
(...) Activists say the U.N. gathering, officially the World Summit on Sustainable Development, should be addressing ways to make business fully accountable for social and environmental actions and accuse firms of hijacking the summit to shirk responsibility.
Big business accused of derailing Earth Summit
Activists accused big business this week of hijacking the Earth Summit from a goal of halving poverty without poisoning the planet.
"Good" News: August 29, 2002
In solidarity with the overwhelming power of business interests at the World Summit in Johannesburg, GN/BN has switched over to the Dark Side.
Letter from the Earth Summit
The dire prediction that the United States intends to sabotage the conference seems to be coming true.
Don't Be Fooled: America's Ten Worst Greenwashers (August 29, 2002)
An annual report exposes the environmental lies corporations tell to earn your "green" shopping dollar.
Greenwash Academy Awards Announced
More than 20 corporations vie for these prestigious awards announced at a star studded ceremony at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. For nominees and winners see http://www.earthsummit.biz
Shell Games at the Earth Summit (August 15)
Tracking the behavior of Royal Dutch Shell from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio to the WSSD in Johannesburg is particularly instructive in drawing out how global corporations have pursued a pro-environment and human rights public-relations strategy on the one hand, while continuing to be deeply engaged in destructive activity on the other. (...) While some may have gained skills working in the Niger Delta's oil fields as a result of Shell's "sustainable development" strategy, it is clear that the giant oil corporation's definition of sustainable development included extracting well over $30 billion in oil from operations in the Niger Delta region since 1956, which has brought little wealth or development to the Delta Region. Conveniently ignored in this best practices case study is the fact that Shell has also created a social and ecological disaster in the Niger Delta that has become a classic case study of the horrendous impacts of oil on people and the environment. Very little, if any of the $30 billion went back into the communities of the Niger Delta, where schools and health clinics are hard to come by, and where toxic contamination from oil spills and gas flares fill the water and air. CLIP
From Rio to Johannesburg: The Globalization Decade (July 24, 2002)
The world's governments, facing a deteriorating planet, are making a last ditch effort to save the Earth. The industrialized countries of the North and the developing countries of the South are scrambling to reach a global deal that will combine environmental protection and poverty alleviation. But a group of global corporations are claiming that they have the answers to the planet's environment and development woes and suggest redefining "sustainable development" to focus on "profit, planet and people."
Wake Up, World Leaders!
World leaders are in danger of sleepwalking right into an environmental catastrophe if this trend is upheld through to next week, warned Kim Carstensen of WWF. It is not too late for a wake-up call.
NOTE FROM JEAN: I recommend to your attention the excellent Special Report: The State of The Planet in the August 26 issue of the Time Magazine available at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/0,9263,1101020826,00.html
The Challenges We Face
In Johannesburg, leaders will debate what to do about threats to our health, food, water, climate and biodiversity
Check also Kofi Annan's excellent article at http://www.time.com/time/2002/greencentury/enannan.html
I found those 2 articles below particularly inspiring while most of this Time's report focusses on the solutions and thus brings some measures of hope...
You may be only 1 in 6 billion, but every person can make a big difference
By JANE GOODALL
August 18, 2002
The greatest danger to our future is apathy. We cannot expect those living in poverty and ignorance to worry about saving the world. For those of us able to read this magazine, it is different. We can do something to preserve our planet.
You may be overcome, however, by feelings of helplessness. You are just one person in a world of 6 billion. How can your actions make a difference? Best, you say, to leave it to decision makers. And so you do nothing.
Can we overcome apathy? Yes, but only if we have hope. One reason for hope lies in the extraordinary nature of human intellectual accomplishment. A hundred years ago, the idea of a 747, of a man on the moon, of the Internet remained in the realm of science fiction. Yet we have seen those things and much, much more. So, now that we have finally faced up to the terrible damage we have inflicted on our environment, our ingenuity is working overtime to find technological solutions. But technology alone is not enough. We must engage with our hearts also. And it's happening around the world.
Even companies once known only for profits and pollution are having a change of heart. Conoco, the energy company, worked with the Jane Goodall Institute (J.G.I.) in Congo to build a sanctuary for orphaned chimpanzees. I formed this partnership when I realized that Conoco, during its exploration, used state-of-the-art practices designed to have the least possible impact on the environment. Many other companies are working on clean forms of energy, organic farming methods, less wasteful irrigation and so on.
Another reason for hope is the resilience of natureif it is given a helping hand. Fifteen years ago, the forests outside Gombe National Park in Tanzania had been virtually eliminated. More people lived there than the land could support. J.G.I. initiated the Lake Tanganyika Catchment Reforestation and Education Project (TACARE), a program active in 33 villages around the park. Today people improve their lives through environmentally sustainable projects, such as tree nurseries and wood lots. We provide health care, family-planning and education programs, especially for women. As their education increases, their family size tends to drop.
While pollution still plagues much of the world, progress is being made. This May in Sudbury, Ont., I saw new forests that were recolonizing hills destroyed by 100 years of nickel mining. The community raised the money and worked for months spreading lime and planting vegetation on the blackened rock. I released the first brook trout into a once poisoned creek there.
Animal species on the brink of extinction can be given a second chance through protection and captive breedingeven if preserving a habitat conflicts with economic interests. A company in Taiwan planned to build a rapid-transit line right through the only major remaining breeding ground of the rare pheasant-tailed jacana. There was an outcry, but it was the only economically viable route. Environmentalists worked with the company to come up with a solutionmoving the breeding ground. Water was diverted back into nearby wetlands that had been drained by farmers, and suitable vegetation was replanted. In 2000 five birds hatched in their new home, and when I visited there the next year, even more birds had moved to the site.
I derive the most hope from the energy and hard work of young people. Roots & Shoots, J.G.I.'s program for youth from preschool through university, is now active in 70 countries. The name is symbolic: roots and shoots together can break up brick walls, just as citizens of Earth together can overcome our problems. The more than 4,000 groups of young people are cleaning creeks, restoring prairies and wetlands, planting trees, clearing trash, recyclingand making their voices heard.
We have huge power, we of the affluent societies, we who are causing the most environmental damage. For we are the consumers. We do not have to buy products from companies with bad environmental policies. To help us, the Internet is linking small grassroots movements so that people who once felt they were on their own can contact others with the same concerns.
I feel deep shame when I look into the eyes of my grandchildren and think how much damage has been done to Planet Earth since I was their age. Each of us must work as hard as we can now to heal the hurts and save what is left.
See also at http://www.time.com/time/2002/greencentury/engoodall.html
State of the Planet: What are the greatest threats to the earth?
Trouble Spots: Mapping the distress signals across the globe
Green Century Web Guide
A recommended reading list and the best sites to find out more
A collection of TIME covers and past articles featuring the planet earth
Severn Cullis-Suzuki: A call for action by young people
When she was 12, Cullis-Suzuki and three Vancouver schoolmates raised money to go to the Rio Earth Summit. Her speech to delegates, above, had such an impact that she became a frequent invitee to U.N. conferences. Now 22, with a B.S. in biology from Yale University, she will be in Johannesburg as a member of Kofi Annan's World Summit advisory panel.
August 18, 2002
When you are little, it's not hard to believe you can change the world. I remember my enthusiasm when, at the age of 12, I addressed the delegates at the Rio Earth Summit. "I am only a child," I told them. "Yet I know that if all the money spent on war was spent on ending poverty and finding environmental answers, what a wonderful place this would be. In school you teach us not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy. Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do? You grownups say you love us, but I challenge you, please, to make your actions reflect your words."
I spoke for six minutes and received a standing ovation. Some of the delegates even cried. I thought that maybe I had reached some of them, that my speech might actually spur action. Now, a decade from Rio, after I've sat through many more conferences, I'm not sure what has been accomplished. My confidence in the people in power and in the power of an individual's voice to reach them has been deeply shaken.
Sure, I've seen some improvements since Rio. In my home city of Vancouver, most people put out their recycling boxes. The organic grocery and café on Fourth Avenue is flourishing. Bikes are popular, and there are a few gas-electric hybrid cars gliding around. But as this new century begins, my twentysomething generation is becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world. We buy our drinking water in bottles. We eat genetically modified organisms. We drive the biggest cars ever. At the same time, we are a generation aware of the world&
151;of poverty and social imbalance, the loss of biodiversity, climate change and the consequences of globalization&
151;but many of us feel we have inherited problems too great to do anything about.
When I was little, the world was simple. But as a young adult, I'm learning that as we have to make choices - education, career, lifestyle - life gets more and more complicated. We are beginning to feel pressure to produce and be successful. We are learning a shortsighted way of looking at the future, focusing on four-year government terms and quarterly business reports. We are taught that economic growth is progress, but we aren't taught how to pursue a happy, healthy or sustainable way of living. And we are learning that what we wanted for our future when we were 12 was idealistic and naive.
Today I'm no longer a child, but I'm worried about what kind of environment my children will grow up in. In Johannesburg the delegates will discuss the adoption and implementation of documents by governments. Yes, important stuff. But they did that at Rio. What this meeting must really be about is responsibility - not only government responsibility but personal responsibility. We are not cleaning up our own mess. We are not facing up to the price of our lifestyles. In Canada we know we are wiping out the salmon of the West Coast, just as we wiped out cod from the East Coast, but we continue overfishing. We keep driving our SUVs in the city, even though we are starting to feel the effects of climate change - a direct result of burning too much fossil fuel.
Real environmental change depends on us. We can't wait for our leaders. We have to focus on what our own responsibilities are and how we can make the change happen.
Before graduating from college last spring I worked with the Yale Student Environmental Coalition to draft a pledge for young people to sign. Called the Recognition of Responsibility, the pledge is a commitment from our generation to be accountable and a challenge to our elders to help us achieve this goal and to lead by example. It includes a list of ways to live more sustainably - simple but fundamental things like reducing household garbage, consuming less, not relying on cars so much, eating locally grown food, carrying a reusable cup and, most important, getting out into nature. (For the full text, go to http://www.skyfishproject.org/rorIntro.php) Three friends and I will take the Recognition of Responsibility to Johannesburg, where we will meet with South African students and then present the pledge to the World Summit as a demonstration of personal commitment.
But in the 10 years since Rio, I have learned that addressing our leaders is not enough. As Gandhi said many years ago, "We must become the change we want to see." I know change is possible, because I am changing, still figuring out what I think. I am still deciding how to live my life. The challenges are great, but if we accept individual responsibility and make sustainable choices, we will rise to the challenges, and we will become part of the positive tide of change.
Read the RECOGNITION OF RESPONSIBILITY at http://www.skyfishproject.org/rorDoc.php and sign it at http://www.skyfishproject.org/rorSignup.php
UN conference in South Africa pushes business "solutions"
The sham summit
August 30, 2002
NEWS STORIES about the Earth summit in Johannesburg focused on George W. Bushs decision not to show up. Maybe Dubya was afraid that hed become the main target of protests.
Hes personally responsible, after all, for finishing off what little remained of the initiatives from the last Earth summit, which took place in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The final act was the Bush administrations rejection of the 1997 Kyoto protocols to cut back on the emission of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Bushs decision not to go to South Africa is just the latest U.S. attempt to wreck an international initiative--on a list that includes arms control, land mines and pollution, to name a few. Washingtons message to the rest of the world is that it will do whatever it wants--which is why people around the globe responded to Bushs snub with anger.
But the truth is that Bush never had much to fear about this conference. His big business buddies made sure of that. Aside from the influence of the IMF and World Bank preaching neoliberal economic policies, groups such as the International Chambers of Commerce and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development have lobbied since 1999 for the summit to recommend private, for-profit management of vital resources and services--and so-called free-market solutions to pollution and poverty.
No wonder the summits preparatory materials avoided mentioning the impending famine in the Southern African countries that surround the conference. They might have been forced to discuss the causes of the famine, which include a drought intensified by the impact of global warming--and the devastating poverty of the region caused by a huge debt burden.
And this isnt to mention the difficulties that poor countries face competing in a world market where powerful countries set the rules through the WTO.
The summit is primed to serve corporate power in two major ways. One is voluntary agreements to govern business conduct. Like other corporate "codes of practice," these new agreements will "amount to little more than the re-branding of destructive activities as beneficial ones," as George Monbiot wrote in Britains Guardian newspaper. The other gift to big business will be a UN blessing for "public-private partnerships"--in which governments hand over control of resources, such as water or energy.
As a justification for these giveaways to rich Western multinationals like Bechtel, Monsanto, Frances Vivendi and Britains Thames Water, free-market enthusiasts claim that resources are used most efficiently when theyre sold for profit. But some do admit that privatization has widened the gap between rich and poor--and that poverty bites even harder when everything comes with a "user fee."
The proposed solution is to allow some government action--not limits on how much can be charged, but cash grants to the poor to help them pay. This is in synch with Bushs pre-summit promise to increase development aid to Africa by $4.5 billion.
The amount is stingy. But the real problem is that the cash will never materialize. At the 1992 Rio summit, every rich country promised to double its aid budget--to 0.7 percent of economic output. Since then, aid has actually fallen to 0.22 percent of output.
Whether the summit "succeeds" in endorsing free-market solutions or breaks up with no agreement, the corporations and the governments that serve them can go on wrecking the earth and robbing the poor. The real hope for turning the situation around lies outside the UN--among the forces that protested the Earth summit.
How the free market is wreaking havoc
OVER THE years, the UN and World Bank have honed a strategy for talking about "sustainable development." The first step is to acknowledge an environment-related crisis that threatens the poor. The next step is to misstate the cause and scope of the crisis, and the charade ends with a free market-oriented business "solution" to a misdiagnosed problem.
UN summit documents around the question of hunger echo this method. They stress that food production is no longer growing faster than population--leaving multinational agribusinesses to recommend technical solutions like genetically engineered crops.
Whats left out is the fact that, despite the production slowdown, there is now--and has been for decades--enough food to feed everyone. Yet 800 million people face chronic starvation--because of lack of money, not lack of technology.
The same verbal tricks show up when the free marketeers discuss the growing water crisis in poor countries. Drinking water is getting scarcer because of corporate methods of agriculture that demand heavy irrigation, industrial pollution of water, and a lack of proper sewage removal. But market "logic" reduces these problems to a simple question of "natural scarcity"--and declares that water would be best conserved if everybody paid market prices for privatized water.
Besides profits for the new water barons, the real results of water privatization have been higher prices, service shutoffs for the poor and mass layoffs of workers that lead to declines in service and water quality.
The big shots may talk about the wonders of the free market. But their rhetoric is a tool for pursuing their real goal, which is economic imperialism--the defense of profits of the biggest companies in the most powerful countries.
"We want to shut them down"
THE UN picked a strange place to advertise the benefits of the free market. Its not just that the region is in the grips of hunger--and an AIDS epidemic made worse by the prohibitive expense of patented drugs.
The summit itself is taking place in the posh suburb of Sandton, just across a cholera-infested river from the destitute Black township of Alexandra. Like the much bigger township of Soweto across town, Alexandra has a proud history of resistance to the racist system of apartheid--and now a new resistance to the free-market policies of the post-apartheid governments.
The resistance includes illegal restoration of water and power to those who have been cut off by newly privatized utilities--as well as movements of the landless to claim the housing that they were promised when apartheid fell.
The UN tried to head off confrontations by providing an alternative forum of "civil society"--15 miles removed from Sandton. And for those who cant pay the $150 fee to be part of "civil society," theres an area down the road claimed by the landless movement.
One division in the protest movement is between those who want "a seat at the table"--and those who think that gaining such a seat would be impossible or useless. "It is our aspiration to shut them down," said Trevor Ngwane, a leader of South Africas thousands-strong Anti-Privatization Forum. "If we have the numbers, that is what we will do. We are inspired by what happened in Seattle and Genoa."
The main protest will be an August 31 march to the summit site that could draw tens of thousands. South African authorities are plainly worried. Last week, police arrested 77 landless protesters during one march--and another 30 the next day. Organizers say that the crackdown amounted to "an undeclared state of emergency."
The corporate and political leaders want to have their way in Johannesburg. But protesters have other plans--to expose the Earth summit as a sham.
George W. Bush, Meet Maurice Strong
By John Passacantando, AlterNet August 27, 2002
The study of leadership is a great American obsession. We make rich men and women out of the historians who can teach us something new about those who led us in crisis or into new eras. Recent biographies have given us insight into Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, Harry Truman and Thomas Jefferson.
Now look at the profiles of two modern leaders, George W. Bush and Maurice Strong, two men with backgrounds in the energy industry whose emerging legacies look like a Hollywood caricature of good vs. evil.
The most interesting background on Bush is the story of his oil company, Harken, which was bailed out at every turn by Poppa Bush's friends, using all the same financial techniques that are now starting to land CEOs in jail. Fortunately he didn't work on as large a scale as the folks at Enron or WorldCom, so fewer people got hurt.
Then W. came to Washington and has run an agenda to enrich people just like himself. He put in a weak SEC chairman so that nobody would bother his fellow CEOs taking shortcuts. He drove tax cuts for the wealthy with a reckless disregard for the finances of the United States, and worst of all, he tried to protect his oil cronies by pulling the U.S. out of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to stop global warming. So now we've got the crony capitalist tool in the White House and ExxonMobil driving U.S. energy policy.
Now for the other former energy industry executive-turned-world leader, Maurice Strong. Strong came to prominence as one of Canada's business chieftains, rising to the top of several major Canadian power companies. He then took a wild turn into the diplomatic world and went to the United Nations as an undersecretary-general in the early 1970s to lead the first conference in Stockholm on the environment.
Strong was the Secretary General of the Stockholm (1972) UN Conference on the Human Environment and the Rio UNCED/Earth Summit (1992). In other words, instead of spending his public career trying to further enrich the energy industry cronies he left behind in Canada, he has focused on trying to wrestle some of the greatest global ecological threats.
Now his greatest opponent is George W. Bush.
The Bush Administration has spent the last year using all its diplomatic powers to undermine the Johannesburg Earth Summit, now in progress. And yet more than 60,000 world leaders, activists and people concerned with poverty, hunger, global warming and war will be gathering trying to find solutions -- while Bush just worries about his CEO buddies back home.
The battle is on.
Recently, Strong gave testimony in front of the U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee. His words conveyed the frustration that even this former energy company executive feels about the path down which George W. Bush is taking the United States and the rest of the world:
"We face an ominous paradox as the evidence of our destructive impacts on the earth's environment and life-support systems has become more compelling while there has been a serious loss of momentum in the political will to deal with them. The United States is at the center of this dilemma."
The recent retreat by the U.S. from its longstanding role as the leading driver of these issues, as particularly evidenced by its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol of the Climate Change Convention, threatens the progress that has been made in collaborative management of our environmental problems in the past 30 years and the prospects for the further progress that is so essential to our common future.
The great historians will have to sort out why these two men differed so much, although at the current rate, kids the world over will want to know who stopped Bush -- and Strong is on the short list to do that right now.
John Passacantando is executive director of Greenpeace USA.