Ten years ago, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit) took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, initiating a process that will be continued in the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), that will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August through 7 September. Differently from the expectations raised ten years ago by the Rio conference, nothing enables us to foresee that this new summit will lead to serious commitments to address the forest crisis. The clauses referring to forests in the Draft Implementation Plan agreed on at the last WSSD preparatory meeting, may be qualified, in the best case, as pathetic. Among them, it is worth mentioning that:
Bulletin Issue 61 – August 2002
The Johannesburg Summit
THE FOCUS OF THIS ISSUE: THE JOHANNESBURG SUMMITThe World Summit on Sustainable Development will soon meet in Johannesburg, South Africa and we have therefore decided to focus this WRM bulletin entirely on this event. In this way we aim at providing relevant information and analysis to both those who will be directly participating at the Summit and those who will not, so as to generate more public awareness leading to increased pressure on governments to make them fulfil the commitments agreed upon ten years ago at the Earth Summit held in Brazil.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
12 August 2002Tropical rainforests are among the world's most diverse and at the same time most threatened ecosystems on Earth. While governments have agreed on the diagnosis, they have failed in the implementation of global and national measures for ensuring their conservation. Within that context, it is important to highlight some fundamental issues which have yet to be truly taken on board for forest conservation to be possible. The first issue is that forests are not empty. Tropical forests have been inhabited by indigenous and traditional peoples for hundreds of thousands of years, well before the creation of most of the modern national states. Each of those peoples have a very precise knowledge of the boundaries of the territory used, managed and owned by them.
12 August 2002Ten years after the Earth Summit, deforestation continues to advance in most of the countries of the world, and in particular in tropical regions. In our successive bulletins we have abundantly recorded cases and processes of destruction, behind which in one way or another, it is possible to perceive the hand of the North.
A DESTRUCTIVE PRESENT
12 August 2002Over the ten years following the Earth Summit, governments have been engrossed in a series of international processes with the declared objective of ensuring forest conservation. However they will be able to show little or no concrete results at the Johannesburg Summit Meeting, for the simple reason that forests have continued to disappear.
12 August 2002The profit-led corporate logic is determining our future, and that of generations to come, shaping the emerging international system which is today dominated by institutions that favour corporate rights. The outstanding outcome of present globalisation --privatisation and deregulation-- have allowed corporations to usurp the natural basis upon which all life depends.
12 August 2002As compared to the World Bank --its sister institution-- the IMF's impacts on forests have been relatively underreported. However, International Monetary Fund loans and policies have caused extensive deforestation in countries of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
12 August 2002The World Bank has a long history in forest destruction. From the 1960s onwards, the Bank has funded large-scale destructive projects in the tropics --ranging from massive hydroelectric dams to extensive road systems-- which resulted in widespread deforestation processes. Since the 1980's, the Bank's negative role was further increased through its structural adjustment programs --in partnership with the International Monetary Fund-- which opened up forests to additional destructive activities --ranging from mining to export-oriented large-scale monocultures-- for the benefit of transnational corporations and their local partners.
12 August 2002To put a shine on its green credentials at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World Bank plans to launch a new fund at Johannesburg, aimed at promoting the North-South trade in carbon credits in line with the so-called 'Clean Development Mechanism' . The 'Community Development Carbon Fund' builds on a three year experiment - the World Bank's Prototype Carbon Fund - but will be a separate initiative with its own statutes and governance structure with a specific focus on promoting small-scale projects which have a community development component. Although the focus of the fund will be on small-scale energy projects - biogas, mini-hydro, windfarms - the fund will also fund projects in forests, agriculture and plantations.
12 August 2002In November of 2001, trade ministers from 140 nations gathered in Doha, Qatar to give the World Trade Organization (WTO) a historic new mandate that could intensify logging of native forests, the depletion of fisheries, the burning of fossil fuels, the use of toxic chemicals, and the release of genetically-modified organisms.
12 August 2002FAO is cheating at a game of patience. And pretends that nobody notices it. All over the world we are watching the alarming destruction and degradation of forests and in this process the rights of indigenous peoples are being violated, watersheds are being affected, whole regions are being altered, the climate is being de-stabilised and species of flora and fauna are disappearing.
EARTH SUMMIT COMMITMENTS
12 August 2002It is worth remembering that during the 1992 Earth Summit (or United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) two processes took place simultaneously: the official summit and the parallel forum of non governmental and indigenous peoples organisations. Governments were unable to reach an agreement on forests and they ended up by adopting a "Non-legally binding authoritative statement of principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests". Still, they did agree on Agenda 21's chapter 11: combatting "deforestation". Ten years later, however, forests keep on disappearing at the same rate as then.