The parties participating in the 22nd meeting of the New European Left Forum in Copenhagen, 31 May - 2 June 2002, unanimously approved the following resolution on the forthcoming World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
We, the New European Left Forum (NELF) parties are deeply concerned with the continuing environmental degradation all over the world. The dangers for life on earth from this siuation are immense. The world summit for Sustainable Development is an opportunity to evaluate the follow up to the Earth summit in Rio, ten years ago, and put forward new demands. In this direction the world NGO forum which will also be convened in Johannesburg on the occasion of the WSSD is of great significance
Ten years after the Rio Summit its declaration and plan of action have largely remained on paper. Today tangible steps forward are urgently needed. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg must use the opportunity to revitalise the spirit of Rio and to shape a renewed political commitment by the countries of the world in achieving sustainable development.
We live in a world where almost half of the population lives on less than $2 per day, where the richest 25 % of the world's population is using 80 % of the world's resources and where carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere still exceed all sustainable limits. We are witnessing an increasing gap between rich and poor, exacerbating unsustainable and inequitable consumption and production patterns, and depleting natural resources at an alarming rate. Furthermore, current international agreements and institutions are failing to deal with these global challenges and are not even individually achieving their stated objectives.
The WSSD presents a rare opportunity for Governments to work together to find solutions, which ensure an equitable and environmentally sustainable development path capable of delivering eradication of poverty and lasting environmental security.
There has been a shocking lack of political will from governments world wide, throughout the preparatory process to date, causing movements and civil society to question the utility of this process altogether. Not only do Governments thus far seem unwilling to agree on concrete time-bound action plans to deliver on the landmark 1992 - Agenda 21 - if anything, they seem to be moving backwards. It will be absolutely critical to the success of the Summit that positive political momentum is regenerated.
The worlds biggest economic power, the United States, is avoiding its responsibilities, a major polluter and the biggest contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions in the world. The parties of the NELF reject the attitude of the United States and its opposition against ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
The European Union has a special role to play in the next steps forward. The Member States are among the most polluting, the most resource consuming and the richest countries of the world. Steps taken by the European Union have therefore major impact globally.
The decision to promote “A Global Deal” in Johannesburg was made in Gothenburg in June 2001 by the European Council. The EU preparatory process has not been satisfactory even though the Union has had every opportunity to influence and guide the process in the right direction. It took almost a year before the Commission made a proposal on what "A Global Deal" could involve.
This is disappointing and problematic for the democratic process. Likewise is the decision to wait for an EU position until the EU Summit in Seville in June 2002 after the last UN preparatory committee meeting has been held. This means that the UN preparatory process will have finished without a much-needed European contribution. This also makes it impossible, especially for the developing countries, to react to the Union input.
We call upon the world leaders and especially the European leaders to work to achieve a proper Global Deal at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) to be held in Johannesburg from 27 August to 4 September 2002.
The purpose of "A Global Deal" is to strike a new balance between global economic, social and environmental development with a view to furthering global sustainable development. The NELF parties support this idea of "A Global Deal" as the result to be achieved at the WSSD in Johannesburg, a global deal which should:
Reach concrete poverty eradication goals and financial contributions.
As a minimum the governments should strive to reach agreements aimed at reducing by half the proportion of people living in poverty, who are denied the right to clean, safe, drinking water and basic nutrition. An agreement should address economic opportunities, access to public services, education, and enhancing the power position of women without whom poverty eradication will not properly succeed.
Ensure market access for the developing countries without quotas or tariffs.
The loss of income to developing countries resulting from barriers to trade by far exceed the value of present development aid. This gross injustice most be undone even if some countries will not benefit, as they do not have the ability to compete on world markets. While developing countries should be given access to the markets of the industrial countries they should be given the ability to protect their own markets. However, such arrangement should be only for a transitional period - while constructing their own production capacity.
Concrete action plans on OECD countries restrictions on trade in agriculture and fisheries
The rich countries of the industrial world should commit themselves to concrete plans for removal in three years of trade distorting structures and subsidies in agriculture and fisheries. Developing countries should have full fishing rights in their territorial waters.
Reach agreements on raising Official Development Aid
We have seen a decline in ODA funds during the 90s. Industrialised countries have to commit themselves to increase ODA to the UN target level of 0,7 % GDP by a fixed date and, in addition, a development fund must be set up based on taxation of international movement of capital (Tobin tax). Sustainable development also needs a transfer of sustainable technologies as well as funds earmarked for this purpose. Promises made in the Monterrey International Conference on Financing for Development in March 2002 were a minor step in the right direction, but far from satisfactory or sufficient. To be put it in perspective, the increase in USA ODA in four years only corresponds to 10% of the annual increase in US military expenditures.
Debt relief and cancellations for developing countries
The debt of the least developed countries must be cancelled and the cancellation should not lead to any reduction of aid.
The debt burden of many developing countries is one of the main obstacles to development. Helping the least developed countries (LDC's) to escape the vicious debt cycle needs to be addressed in Johannesburg also. A new initiative for the poorest countries, HIPC-3, is needed.
Enhancement and strengthening of international co-operation to protect environment and labour standards.
Move towards a World Ecological Charter and a World Environment Organisation. Decisions by, and the work of, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) should respect and support international agreements on the environment and rights of the workers.
Aim at decoupling economic growth and environmental degradation
The developed countries should agree to strive for this in order to develop paths of sustainable development as well as to demonstrate their commitment to global sustainable development
Launch a convention aimed at the formulation of a code of conduct for the private sector.
During the 90s we have seen much increased private investment into the developing countries. Many investments are made by multinationals, which have the entire globe as their market place. There has to be an ethical, social and environmental code of conduct for these investments which guarantees that investors observe minimum standards. There should also be universal implementation of International Labour Organisation (ILO) core labour standards.
Emphasis on water, desertification and land degradation
Some of the most fatal environmental risks for the people in developing countries have not yet been addressed properly. These are issues of access to water resources and sanitation, desertification and land degradation. These are also the environmental risks that are faced on a daily basis by women in rural areas. Johannesburg can raise the profile of these "forgotten environmental problems".
Governments must agree to specific action plans in an integrated manner to address the issues. They must implement and enforce the international conventions and initiatives on the environment (Kyoto, Montreal and the Convention on Biodiversity),on poverty eradication (Monterrey) and on education and health (Copenhagen). Although many commitments have been made, we urgently need to find a way out of the implementation crisis that we currently faces. The NELF parties would propose the following as the essential basis of an agreement and of concrete action plans:
Targets and timetables
Financial resources for implementation
Means of implementation including capacity-building, education for sustainable development, technology-transfer and others
Institutional requirements, including accountability mechanisms
A mechanism for monitoring and reporting of commitments post-Johannesburg.
Democracy in international relations and within nations is inextricably linked with sustainable development in the world. In the first place the world organisations must be profoundly democratised in order to be able to respond to the demands and the hopes for a better life for the people of the world, especially of the third world.
We support an upgraded and democratised UN and demand a changed role for organisations such as the World bank, IMF and the WTO.
Above all the emergence of an international civil society can be a decisive force for change towards a different world of equitable cooperation, democracy, peace and sustainable development.