On the first day of the Earth Summit, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, including Greenpeace, called on the delegates to go further than insubstantial rhetoric to achieve real, lasting gains.
As well as showcasing the cultural richness of South Africa, the opening of the Earth Summit explored themes such as people being tied to a degraded environment.
Over the next weeks, that will mean a battle of wills and a
battle of words.
Despite the deep pessimism felt by many, there's still some hope
that the Summit can make a difference, if it adheres to a few basic
principles. The issues are complicated, but the answers are
We need real targets and timetables for change.
We need a rejection of the absurdity that industry
self-regulation is enough to protect our world.
We need binding measures without waffling language and 'wiggle
Governments must recognise and address the real downsides of
economic globalisation, and make an ambitious effort to turn the
concept into a positive force for far more of the planet's people
and its environment.
What is lacking is not financial commitment; it's the political
will. The European Union shows some signs of progressive
leadership, together with a long list of potential partner
countries - beginning with Brazil, Japan, Indonesia and South
Floods in Europe and China, food crisis in southern Africa,
droughts in the United States, the "brown cloud" over much of Asia,
are timely reminders that natural and man-made disasters can be
hugely exacerbated by the failure of policy-makers driven by the
commercial interests of the rich world. The corporate sector is
overtly present here lobbying to ensure that those very commercial
interests will not be obstructed or regulated by Governments. These
same bodies are calling for 'self regulation', or insist that
market forces will keep them honest.
We all know better. From the Enron scandal, to Dow's refusal to
clean up Bhopal, the legacy of corporate behaviour is sheer
irresponsibility. All the money in the world won't wash away that
Greenpeace has a published a checklist for a successful summit,
which we invite you to have a look at. Over the next two weeks, we
urge you to pay close attention to what our world's leaders are
doing here in Johannesburg. Whose futures are they looking out for?
Exxons? BMW's? or yours? Make sure they know that theirfuture as
leaders depends entirely on how well they look after the future of