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EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the Environment Centre NT



EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the Environment Centre NT


Environment Centre NT


EnvironmeNT; E-Journals; PublicationNT; EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the Environment Centre NT






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Environment Centre N.T; Ecology; Periodicals

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EnvironmeNT : the newsletter of the Environment Centre NT

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October 2002 Page 3 World Summit on Sustainable DevelopmentWorld Summit on Sustainable Development Some gains, but mostly missed opportunitiesSome gains, but mostly missed opportunities In last months newsletter before leaving for the World Summit I asked whether the Summit would be a turning point or a talk-fest. Reflecting on the Summits official outcomes it is difficult to regard the official summit as anything but disappointing. At a time when we needed Governments to lead on environment and poverty issues we saw the views of a few environmental renegades (Australia included) win the day on most issues. What were the official outcomes? The official outcomes of the Summit are documented in the Implementation Strategy. Over the 10 days of the WSSD meeting Government delegations, Industry and NGOs argued over the text of this document. In most cases agreement by Government delegations on the text could only be achieved by weakening the text to the point where it meant little and entailed no measurable target or obligations. Therefore countries like the US and Australia who argued fiercely against setting renewable energy targets were successful in scuttling a renewable energy target of 15% globally which was supported by Brazil and, until they buckled, the European Union countries. Similarly international biodiversity protection mechanisms were probably weakened as a result of the Summit, and there was an over-reliance on voluntary agreements to deliver environmental protection and poverty alleviation at the expense of enforceable and binding rules and agreements. There was however some progress on a few issues. Agreed targets for delivery of clean water and sanitation services and infrastructure for the 3 billion people without access to these services will, if met, make a tremendous difference to the lives of many. There is also some hope that in the next few years there could be support for an international agreement on corporate responsibility which could regulate the behaviour of multinational corporations globally. What about the unofficial outcomes? Outside and around the main Summit there was an extraordinary range of really inspiring events. Of the 60,000 people attending the WSSD, only about 15,000 of those had access to the official summit. Many were there to participate in the side events and to share stories and experiences about local, national and global community driven sustainability projects and campaigns. The range of events that was taking place was amazingoften I wanted to be in 5 different places and events at once. Most delegates at the Summit were very aware that we cant afford to wit for our governments to act to safeguard the future of the planet and to address poverty, but that our so called leaders will in all likelihood only act if led by community action. One really heartening outcome from Johannesburg was that, despite being largely ignored by the official Summit, the Kyoto protocol on climate change gained enormous momentum and now is set for implementation. Prior to the WSSD meeting Kyoto was looking very shaky. In the lead up to or at Johannesburg Canada, Japan and Russia all committed to ratifying Kyoto, leaving Australia and US as the only industrialised western countries out of the Kyoto framework. Additionally China and India also agreed to ratify Kyoto, Mark attended the WSSD on behalf of ECNT, Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation. He will be giving a talk in the FATSIS/CINCRM seminar room, (Building 30 on Wednesday the 9th of September at 12:15 pm) about his experiences and reflections on the WSSD meeting. All Welcome. thereby blasting the arguments of Australia and the US that Kyoto would fail because it didnt limit CO emissions from developing countries out of the water. As countries start to take up the enormous opportunities for economic activity associated with emissions trading and carbon sinks, Australias recalcitrance and isolation is going to look increasingly foolish. Huge protests in Johannesburg about impacts of poverty and corporate globalisation were really successful in galvanising and publicising community concern about the summits lack of progress on some of the really big issues. Elsewhere at a mind-boggling array of events activists from around the planet discussed these issues in detail and developed campaign plans. As ECNT members may be aware, I was at the WSSD mainly working on Jabiluka, and more broadly mining and corporate responsibility issues. I attended mainly mining industry and NGO events raising the contradictions between Rio Tintos sustainability rhetoric and their action on Jabiluka. The comments from Rios Director Sir Robert Wilson ( page 1 2) demonstrate that Rio is feeling the pressure of this sort of campaigning. Hopefully as a result of meeting with lost of mining, indigenous rights and anti-nuclear campaigners Rio Tinto will continue to feel this pressure until they relinquish the Jabiluka lease and the area is back in the control of traditional owners. -Mark Wakeham Friends of the Earth Hear our Voices action outside Summit