Written by ex-Conservative MP, now political journalist, Matthew Parris, it uses the experience of queuing for an Air Gabon flight at a London airport to warn that Africa will always be poor.
First, because Africa's elite is volatile, rapacious and brutal - but also infantile in their mood swings ("momentarily warm, momentarily cruel, suddenly kind, suddenly innocent, suddenly corrupt").
They have no taste ("I have seldom in one place seen a collection of luggage at the same time so ostentatious, so expensive, and so gross").
They cheat as a matter of course ("Found out, the capacity of these people to affect innocent shock and apparent ignorance of every rule was astonishing").
And worst of all they don't know how to queue ("We started in a queue - three whites scattered among the Africans - but by the time the whites got anywhere near the check-in desk we were the last three in line").
And second, because "the little people, the common people… let themselves down; by letting their leaders let them down."
They are easily-led by people, who however vile, act in a "kingly manner." When badly treated, their resentment is soon forgotten in their "wish to be part of the top dog's gang."
President Thabo Mbekibelieves that the summit "must proceed from the basis that all humanity is committed to a shared prosperity. It should be inspired by the knowledge that the resources exist within the global human society to achieve this objective."
However, he tells ANC Today that the "environment is the very first condition for human existence itself. It is a natural gift we have a duty to protect now and for all time in the interests of all human beings. As these human beings, we have an obligation to interact with our planet in a manner that preserves the planet."
Mbeki also warns South Africans to beware of "careless remarks and actions that communicate negative messages about our country and people."
As a role model for how not to behave, the president cites Pieter Van Zyl, the drunken thug who attacked the referee at a recent South Africa-New Zealand rugby match, and dislocated his shoulder.
| 07:51 PM
The US and the rest, part 2. "The respect Americans once accorded to Europeans' culture, wisdom and manners has not just disappeared, it has turned into an aggressive contempt," writes John Lloyd in the FT (subscription required). "The US, at least at the elite level, and perhaps more widely, has become seized by the idea that we Europeans are weak, whingeing and hopeless; ungrateful, mean and ignorant; guilty, cynical and exhausted. And anti-semitic. Especially anti-semitic."
Another (see yesterday's post) interesting primer on what may be Joburg's key faultline - the relationships between the United States and the rest. Next up, Daily Summit will try and bring you something on how things look from the other side of the Atlantic.
Then turn to the IISD glossary of sustainable development neologisms...
| 03:14 PM
WTO boss thinks world trade regime is tragic, was an attention-grabbing aside in a John Humphry's article, summarised by Daily Summit on Sunday.
We contacted WTO's press office and they helpfully pointed us to the source of this remark. According to Moore, the tragedy is subsidies to farmers in rich countries.
"The globalised economy is still full of contradictions. Today, the world sugar market contains some of the largest and most blatant forms of trade protection. Having exploited developing poor countries for generations, the north now keeps their products out of their markets. Protectionist policies distort prices and therefore economic incentives, leading to wasted resources and environmental degradation. Subsidies lead to over production which drives prices down and provides incentive to dump surpluses on world markets, which in turn puts agriculture producers in the developing world at a severe, and deeply unfair, disadvantage."
And finally, not content with urging Bush to attend, Leonardo diCaprio will be making an appearance himself
| 11:29 AM
August 16, 2002
Bush Watch Latest - Apparently President Bush has decided he will not go to the summit because he is planning a major trip to Africa next year. So, the word is he'll be on the ranch in Texas, poring over an atlas. Which is nice.x
| 11:26 PM
Europe's flood havoc concisely summarised by UNEP, with an accompanying map...
The Sustainable Tourism initiative has got most of the UK package holiday industry on board, and plans to develop a worthy (but dull?) "structured communications plan with UK tourists", and is set to establish a "Responsible Tourism Foundation."
Water and Sanitation focuses on providing water to poor people in smaller towns in South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda. The idea is to involve the private sector in "identifying innovative financing arrrangements for water supply and sanitation services directed at the poor."
The Energy initiative should lead to a Global Partnership for Sustainable Energy at WSSD. UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy, meanwhile, is calling for clear targets for introducing cleaner energy, government support for these targets, the removal of subsidies for other forms of energy, and support for developing an international sustainable energy market.
The Forestry initiative, finally, aims to combat illegal logging, ensure public money is only spent on right-on timber, promote forest certification, create a business-led sustainability strategy, build international partnerships on forest restoration, and create a clear government position on forestry for WSSD. This initiative is currently "out to consultation".
"Economic Reasons for Conserving Wild Nature," is the title of an interesting paper recently published in Science
It comes up with four main findings.
First, there isn't much data comparing the value of natural habitats and habitats "converted to human use." (Question to academics: why not?)
Second, the few studies available seem to show "conversion" offers short term gains, but that these are outweighed by the cost of longer term losses. Often, however, there is a clear private interest in the gains, but a more diffuse public one in the losses.
Third, a very very rough estimate of the global losses through conversion is $250 billion in a year.
Fourth, that around $45 billion should be spent on conserving land and sea habitats, which should deliver benefits 100 times over.
"We are not arguing against development," the paper concludes. "However, current development trajectories are self-evidently not delivering human benefits in the way they should… Our findings show one reason why this is the case: our relentless conversion and degradation of remaining habitats is eroding human welfare for short term private gain."
The full paper is here (but you have to pay $4 to download it).
| 12:57 PM
Members of the British delegation have briefed the media ahead of the summit.
"There is no shortage of agreements and texts," says John Ashton, for the Foreign Office, "but there is not a very good record of turning these into delivery." He believes "there is too much cynicism about multilateralism. The summit must show that it can work.”
Sheila McCabe, at DEFRA, argues that "a cut-down in lifestyle is difficult because no government likes to take such measures." But she believes that developed countries must lead the way in exploring more sustainable consumption patterns. "
Adrian Davis, DFID, focuses on where European development money is spent. ”We believe this aid should be made more effective in its delivery and disbursement, and we are trying to work with the relevant agencies in Brussels to improve that.”
| 12:29 PM
A row between the US and the rest, is one possible summit outcome.
"The US is quite literally its own worst enemy," writes Tony Judt. "It is when pandering to domestic constituencies that American presidents most often alienate foreign opinion. Bombastic rhetoric and unilateralist posturing go down well at home and may even intimidate foreign foes (though this seems uncertain). But they surely terrify and estrange a third constituency, America's many friends and admirers abroad."
| 11:17 AM
August 15, 2002
Daily Summit scoops CNN CNN is today reporting that President Bush is being lobbied not to go to the summit.
"The livestock operations that surround my Midwest town, Hudson, Michigan, still call themselves farms," she writes. "Most are dairies, and they're all huge, all built within the last few years. In the language of law, they're Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) with a thousand plus Animal Units - that is, seven hundred or more confined cows-and open-air waste pits that hold millions of gallons of liquefied feces and urine. Like the hog CAFOs in North Carolina, Missouri, and Washington and chicken operations all over the place, they're the largest constructions on the new rural landscape: animal factories that from the air resemble airplane hangars."
These farms are major pollutors and hooked on subsidies. But they're also shielded from criticism, Kauffman believes.
"Americans have rarely questioned the moral and essential claim of agriculture, to do whatever it wants because it must or face ruin. The myth of the farm, envisioned in the clip art farm, holds powerful sway, as if the goodness of a creative God and all his righteousness had been shifted to human farmer hands. Who are we to question Agriculture, which plants and grows our daily bread, feeds creatures to be our meat?"
If you're thinking of smoking at the summit,think again...
| 10:18 AM
Getting better? Getting worse? Part 6.Colin Powell thinks things are getting better.
"A decade ago, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, some 172 countries adopted a blueprint to achieve sustainable development worldwide," he said last month. "While there have been ups and downs and progress has been uneven, we have seen real improvements since Rio. For example, over the past decade, the proportion of people in developing countries struggling to make ends meet on less than one dollar a day has dropped from 29 percent to 24 percent. Not nearly enough, but it's a beginning. It's a start. Infant mortality has declined by more than 10 percent, and mortality among children under five is nearly 20 percent lower...
"We have also seen the conclusion and implementation since Rio of important environmental agreements, such as those to reduce substances harmful to the air we breathe and to control the spread of deserts. But while we have progressed along the road to hope, we have far to go in a world where one person in five still suffers in extreme poverty, and where a baby's chances of surviving to adulthood still depend on the accident of where he or she is born."
According to Powell, economic liberalization is an essential element to sustainable development. "Countries that have opened their economies have done better than those who have remained closed," he says. "It's as simple as that."
| 10:13 AM
As a Greenpeace protest ship docks in Capetown, the International Herald Tribune reviews the growing influence of NGOs.
"It is clear that the Earth Summit ushered in a new era of global transnational citizen activism that is radically transforming the landscape of international diplomacy," the paper writes, quoting Earthwatch.
A Greenpeace spokeswoman, meanwhile, is cagey about what the ship's crew of 26 will be doing during the summit.
"I would like to give you some idea of what we have planned but I will not do so," she says.
Pipes quotes Shimon Peres as asserting that fundamentalism "a way of protesting against poverty, corruption, ignorance, and discrimination" - but then proceeds to argue he's wrong.
Economic trends fail to predict countries where militant Islam will be strong and where not, he argues. The fairly well-off are more likely to join militant groups - not the poor, the alienated and the marginal. It is "highly competent, motivated and ambitious individuals" who lead radical movements, while "a disproportionate number of terrorists and suicide bombers have higher education, often in engineering and the sciences."
"Could it be, quite contrarily, that militant Islam results from wealth rather than poverty?" he asks. "It is possible. There is, after all, the universal phenomenon that people become more engaged ideologically and active politically only when they have reached a fairly high standard of living. Revolutions take place, it has often been noted, only when a substantial middle class exists."
| 05:01 PM
"The thousands of delegates flocking to Johannesburg in two weeks' time," writes the Guardian today, "could emit roughly 500,000 tonnes of CO2."
This sounds painful.
| 12:25 PM
John Prescott comes out fighting, in an article in the Guardian, clearly riled by the press the government, and the summit, have been getting.
"Sustainable development - economic, social and environmental - is the biggest challenge facing the world in the 21st century," he writes, "and it is at the heart of this government's domestic and international agenda."
According to Prescott, the UK government wants rich countries to "lead by example to achieve more sustainable consumption and production patterns." It also wants global targets for increasing the use of renewable energy, providing poor people with access to water and sanitation, and stemming the loss of biodiversity.
| 12:15 PM
In other news today, Summit organisers are happy for peaceful marches to take place - and summit chair, Nitin Desai, is still keen to lure President Bush to the summit despite being told that "no decision has been taken on this matter"
| 10:22 AM
Getting better? Getting worse? Part 5 Worse, according to Sunday Times.
"Ten years later, however, there are few physical benefits from all those bold principles and briefing papers. Some countries, such as Britain, have succeeded in cutting greenhouse gas emissions — but most have not. America, the biggest greenhouse gas producer, has seen its emissions increase by nearly 20%.
The number of species of plants, animals and fish that have been wiped from the face of the earth has also surged.
As for tackling poverty — another Rio priority — the lack of progress has been even more notable. Half the world’s six billion people live on less than £1.50 a day: one billion have no clean water and 2.4 billion lack access to basic sanitation. And in many areas the situation is getting worse. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the number of people living in poverty has grown from 220m in 1990 to 300m in 1998."
| 10:13 AM
August 13, 2002
Should Daily Summit be worried? Mohammed Haffejee, IT executive of the Johannesburg World Summit Company (Jowsco), believes the World Summit may face electronic attack from protestors.
"We are expecting people to try to hack us to make a name for themselves. Some could be malicious and some will be thrillseekers, but we are preparing for both," he said today.
Hot off the press a report which says it “highlights the disturbing toll of current patterns of development on global living standards and the Earth's natural resources.”
"Global Challenge, Global Opportunity highlights the choice we face between two futures," says Nitin Desai, who will chair the World Summit. "If we do nothing to change our current indiscriminate patterns of development, we will compromise the long-term security of the Earth and its people.”
Key issues, according to the report, are water shortages, rising sea levels, species loss, the destruction of forests, and air pollution. The report also highlights the need for more productive farming and action to improve the health of the poor.
Although there is some good news on a “small scale” – even these gains are now in danger, the report adds.
"We now have unequivocal evidence that the goals of human progress and environmental protection are co-dependent," Mr. Desai noted. "Governments, corporations and civil society must come to Johannesburg with a commitment to improve people's lives on a sustainable basis.”
"Success in achieving the target on child mortality linked to diarrhoeal diseases, and the unprecedented increase in development funding agreed in Monterrey earlier this year, show what UN Summits can achieve. Sustainable development is starting to take root in some parts of the world, but it needs to be accelerated rapidly if we are to build a future free of the poverty and instability that will come if we continue our present management of natural resources.”
More migration: "Isolationists in industrialised countries should stop and look at their populations' advancing age structure. As the dependency ratio explodes later this century, who is going to provide goods and services for all the retirees? There are many elements to a solution, not least allowing expanded immigration from the developing world, with its much younger population."
More 3rd world debt: "One desirable element has to be for the industrialised countries to save abroad by running large current-account surpluses vis-à-vis the developing world. These cumulated surpluses, while facilitating much-needed investment in poorer countries right now, could later be drawn down as the baby-boomers stop working... Right now, the system cannot easily tolerate such giant debt accumulation. We have to make it work better."
Fewer currencies: "I believe that at some point later this century, there will be consolidation, ending perhaps in two or three core currencies, with a scattered periphery of floaters. Getting there, and managing macroeconomic policy with less exchange-rate flexibility, is one of the major political and economic challenges of the next era of globalisation."
He is also pessimistic about Africa's prospects. Countries need macroeconomic stability, he argues. But Africa relies on the export of commodities, which suffer "extraordinary price volatility" and international, which is "extremely unpredictable." Shielding the economy is an understandable temptation, but this stops it adjusting, while encouraging inefficiency and corruption.
"Many parts of Africa have made great progress in lowering inflation, liberalising markets, and resuming growth. The IMF has helped," he says. "Still, the challenges ahead are formidable, and require further rethinking of standard macroeconomic prescriptions."
| 04:25 PM
The British papers are tireless in their determination to squeeze every last drop from the junketing story - now the Daily Mail (not online) is outraged that the BBC is spending £120,000, "sending up to 70 staff to the controversial Earth Summit."
"When it comes to squandering public money, the BBC takes some beating," it editorializes, dismissing the summit as a "hot air jamboree."
| 11:20 AM
The Civil Society Forum, due to start this coming Monday, has just been given a cash injection of over US$7 million, according to reports.
Trevor Gozhi writes that the forum is intended to raise the concerns of "civil organisations" at the summit.
The Daily Summit expects that many uncivil voices will also be heard!
| 11:11 AM
Leonard di Caprio wants Bush to go the summit,urging the President to "look towards the future," especially as the US is the world's greatest polluter.
Steve Sawyer, climate policy advisor, feels some sympathy for the president.
"He'll be pilloried if he does come and pilloried if he doesn't," he says.
Daily Summit sticks to its prediction that Bush will be at the summit - even if only for a couple of hours.
| 11:00 AM
A fax to President Bush reaches the Daily Summit, applauding his decision not to attend the summit and urging him not to give into pressure from “so-called environmental groups” to change his mind.
The summit “will provide a global media stage for many of the most irresponsible and destructive elements involved in critical international economic and environmental issues. Your presence would only help to publicize and make more credible their various anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalization, and anti-Western agendas.”
The problems of developing countries are largely caused by “oppressive and incompetent government,” much development aid is wasted, and often serves merely to “prop up brutal, rapacious regimes”.
The best outcomes from Joburg? Progress on providing poor people with clean water and sanitation. And steps to ensure economic growth, which will in turn lead to environmental improvement.
The worst outcomes? New international treaties or international organizations, such as a World Environmental Organization.
Bush is also asked to make sure global warming is kept off the negotiating table and “out of the spotlight.”
UK Round Up 5: Yesterday, we looked at devolved administrations. Today, UK local government.
93% of UK local authorities had Local Agenda 21 Strategies by December 2000 (see case studies here and here - or download a global survey of Local Agenda 21 here), while a new Local Sustainable Development Unit has just been set up.
The Local Government Information Bureau has a Joburg website here.
| 10:11 AM
In other news today.. The Scotsman reports that some companies are richer than countries in the UN list. Drug smugglers are now earning money trading in endangered species and toxic waste.
And according to the Times (registration required), the Conservative Party are calling on Tony Blair to lead protests at the Earth Summit against President Mugabe's behaviour over the land re-distribution programme.
The Prime Minister at the World Summit will have "in addition to health, education, crime and transport, the environment and Africa....on his list of priorities." It was also confirmed that he will be there from "2nd to 4th September" according to today's lobby briefing
| 05:48 PM
Daily Summit had never expected to see Coca-Cola in anything other than its trademark red – but at the Eden Project – Cornwall’s “green Disney” – the company’s drinks machines sport a striking green.
“Cola nuts have been part of the indigenous landscape for centuries and the indigenous people found many uses for every part of the tree,” they tell us. “In 1886 John Styth Permberton, an Atlanta pharmacist included extracts in his secret formula to produce the refreshing flavour that is coca cola, loved and enjoyed throughout the world.”
The message: “The Coca-Cola company aims to protect, preserve and enhance the environment by making environmental excellence and sustainable development a priority in the daily operation of our business.”
Same old red cans, of course.
| 05:26 PM
In other news The BBC reports on the brown haze that is covering parts of Asia, affecting the weather and the economy not only there, but also the rest of the world, according to the Independent.
Also: the Earth Summit is creating a boom time for Johannesburg and making it a better place to live....and the new Scottish parliament building that Jack McConnell built may not be as eco-friendly as he promised.
Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell will lead a delegation that includes the CEO of Scottish Power, the heads of environment, social justice and international development NGOs, a local authority representative. He is also taking 12 year-old Earth Champion, Stephanie Wiseman with him and together they plan to visit a Scottish school. The Scottish Executive has recently set up a Sustainable Development Forum, which brings together business, unions, public sector, voluntary organisations and the public to explore sustainable development and environmental justice.
Uniquely among EU nations, Wales has sustainable development build into its constitution, measuring its environmental policy through the Welsh Ecological Footprint. In April, the Welsh Assembly and WWF ran Wales and the World in preparation for the summit. What is described as a "small delegation" will be heading to the summit.
The Northern Ireland Executive sees sustainable development as providing common ground for working for a peaceful, prosperous and fair society. In particular, it is working in partnership with community groups on a range of urban and rural development programmes that combine economic, environmental and social goals. The first minister will lead Ireland's delegation.
Since 1990, one economic indicator (economic output) has improved, while two (employment and investment) remain unchanged.
Of the social indicators, poverty, health and housing have stayed the same. Education has improved and non-violent crime decreased. But violent crime is on the up.
For the environment, the news is good on climate change, air quality and river water quality; bad on farmland birds and waste; and neutral on road traffic and land use.
So that's six indicators improving, three deteriorating, and seven unchanged.
| 10:02 AM
The New Statesman has a forthright perspective on the ongoing Meacher hoohah.
"To those who work closely with him," it editorializes, "Tony Blair has made no secret of being thoroughly bored with environment issues. He is unconvinced that human activity can exert an irreversible, negative effect on the earth's climate... and he is irriated by those whom he considers to be evangelistic, sandal-wearing purists. Technological advance and men and women of goodwill willsave the planet - not the green lobby....
"But there is an important point at which Mr Meacher and Mr Blair make contact, and that is in their ambitions for the world's poorest people. Both believe that poverty, particularly in Africa, is a scourge on the civilised world. Both believe that access to clean drinking water and non-polluting energy are among the continent's urgent priorities."
A never-ending New York Times Magazinearticle has ruffled feathers.
Author Jack Hitt is, by turns, jarringly cynical and mock naive as he visits Cambodia to describe the work of WildAid, a charity that "provides direct protection to wildlife in danger".
"To put it mildly, it won't be easy for this poacher to tell his boss that he just lost an $800 chain saw," he writes at one point. "Maybe both of them will find some other illegal trade less harmful to this habitat: drugs, Angkor Wat artifacts, teenagers."
At another: "Throughout the raids, I see that puzzled look on many faces. I wonder if an earlier generation of my countrymen in this neighborhood hadn't seen the same expression, too. Of course, the consequences of WildAid's interventions are slightly different: getting your moped seized for 10 days is not quite like getting napalmed. Still, there are moments (like punishing a lady for having a turtle while abandoning child prostitutes) that history's repetition here seems especially farcical."
Blogger, Instapundit, is not impressed. For him, the subtext of the piece is clear: "military style operations are fine when you are protecting animals and tropical hardwoods... no matter what hardship it might produce for locals just trying to eke out a living. But don't get distracted by trying to help, you know, actual people."
But WildAid is unhappy too. They think the piece is sensationalist and ignores the worthwhile work they do providing local communities with alternative sources of income (memo to PR: what did you expect?).
"We are first and foremost a wildlife conservation organization, with our scope limited by our charter, modest budget and in many instance by law (our Mobile Unit’s remit is strictly limited by Cambodian law)," they say. "We have found that, with the few hundred thousand dollars a year we have to spend in Cambodia, helping a country to conserve one of its great national assets as a future resource while providing employment to several dozen people is the best use of our abilities."
The emphasis, in all poor countries, has to be on the word "resource".
"Africa can't afford the luxury of preserving animals for the sake of it. Or preserving them simply for rich people's enjoyment," George Hulme of the Chiredzi River Conservancy once said. "The local population has to benefit."
Lyson Masango, a teacher at the Mahenye School in Zimbabwe, makes a similar point: "The people thought wildlife was for white people. Now they realise it’s also for us, because they see the benefits come back. It used to come back as a cost. Now it comes back as a benefit."
Postscript: How did Ritt's editor let him get away with using the word "unmaintenanced" to describe a road?
| 08:28 PM
And now it's a ministerial spat, with International Development secretary, Clare Short, hitting back at her colleague, Michael Meacher.
"This isn't an environmental summit. It's a summit about sustainable development," she told the BBC, in reponse to Meacher's criticism of the government's green credentials. "The biggest challenge to the world is to guarantee to the poor of the world development in a planet that we keep sustainable."
| 07:47 PM
Welcome if you're just finding us for the first time.
With a week to go until launch, we're settling in nicely. Hopefully, you'll make the Daily Summit your first port of call as the summit approaches (what's that? we think Tim Blair sums it up rather nicely).
For now, we monitoring progess as the World Summit approaches - while from 23rd August, we'll be live from Joburg, trying to mine some sense from the chaos.
Get in touch with your tips, gossip, advice - or simply to tell us how well/badly you think we're doing. There'll be a comments feature on every post sometime next week, and you can email us at any time...
| 07:27 PM
Rio, Anglo and the Observer - Following Daily Summit's earlier post, a reader gets in touch to say, sure Anglo-American have done well on AIDS, but Rio Tinto are very cavalier operators.
He cites their enthusiasm to pursue what MiningWeb describes as "one of the world's most controversial mining projects - a titanium mine in south east Madagascar."
Friends of the Earth reckons that Rio severly "underestimates the likely impacts of the dredging project on bio-diversity and forest loss; of the port construction and operation on marine life; of the proposed weir on both human and saltwater species; and of the new roads on local people," while failing to evaluate the impact a horde of incoming mostly single, mostly male, mostly young miners could have on the area.
Daily Summit, however, is still AGHAST that the Observer could give a story a swathe of its front page, serve Anglo-American some harsh criticism, and not even mention the AIDS connection - when it was a big story ONLY LAST WEEK!
I've read the piece again and again just to make sure I haven't missed something - but there's simply nothing there...
| 05:18 PM
Finally, in the Sunday Times,John Humphrys (former UK journalist of the year, self-confessed "brilliant" after dinner speaker, and crusader against those who are corrupting the English language with "Americanised jargon and meaningless business non-speak") weighs in.
For those of you not prepared to take up the Times's offer of a free subscription, here's a summary of his piece:
(1) The fuss over Meacher was a "load of rubbish" - how could one person among 65,000 be missed? (2) It probably makes sense for Bush to stay at home. (3) Can the rich get richer without the poor getting poorer? Our leaders says yes, but they're wrong. (4) Free trade has been manipulated to suit the selfish interests of the rich. We have many ways to keep our "boots on the windpipe of the Third World," such as forcing governments to privatise water so we can take over and push up the prices for the poor. (5) Subsidies for farmers kill two birds with one stone - we get rich, they get poorer. (6) Even Michael Moore, head of the WTO, believes US trade policy on cotton, coffee and sugar is "tragic." (7) Will Johannesburg change of this? Will it hell?
| 02:50 PM
Today's Observer front page criticises the news that corporate bosses will be joining environment and development campaigners in the UK delegation, quoting an unnamed Friends of the Earth spokesman as saying "this is further evidence that Blair is determined to cosy up to big business."
Delegation members under attack include the head of Thames Water (guilty of polluting UK waterways and operating in Indonesia), Rio Tinto (accused of disregarding human rights and devastating unique environments), and Anglo American (under attack for its operations in Peru and Zambia).
Disappointingly, the Observer neglects to mention the main reason Anglo-American has hit the news in the run-up to the summit: its decision to give anti-retrovirals to HIV-positive employees.
Update: Of course, there are alternatives to Anglo-American's generosity. For example, this prosperous driving-instructor turned preacher who, according to the New York Times, claims that "his healing hands have pulled the rains from cloudless skies, exorcised wayward spirits and, most important, cured dozens of people suffering from AIDS."
| 02:00 PM
The Sunday Times continues its summit coverage in a Focus piece (free subscription required).
According to the paper, innocent trees and grass verges have been sacrificed to transform a "characterless suburb into a gleaming imitation of a western city." The conference will be run by 27,000 staff in "designer uniforms" and protected by police on a mission to keep beggars and street people out.
But it will all be for nothing. At least, according to those who the public might expect to be fervent supporters of the process.
A leading environmentalist - Mike Childs for Friends of the Earth - is on the attack.
“The outlook is very poor," he says. "George Bush isn’t going; Tony Blair is flying in for a day. There is a complete lack of top-level leadership. Leaving it to junior ministers and civil servants just guarantees confusion and disagreement.”
He's joined by a development lobbyist - Kevin Watkins for Oxfam (who last week described the summit as a "tragic farce").
“The northern governments have just turned it into a giant public relations exercise,” he claims.
Finally there's Felix Dodds, of the Stakeholder Forum, which (a) says it dreamt up the idea of holding the summit, (b) has been a "catalyst" for UK summit preparation, and (c) receives the vast majority of its money from UK, European or international public funds (see last year's annual report in pdf).
He thinks it would be wrong to give up hope, but that "in many ways, those of us fighting for sustainable development have already lost. The amount of damage done and lives ruined just seems so immense."
| 12:50 PM
Michael Meacher hits the headlines here in the UK once again - with a Sunday Times interview (subscription needed) that has now been picked up by television and radio.
Last week saw a rumpus about whether the Minister would be going to Joburg, now he says he is determined to push the government into accepting a green agenda.
"There are areas where I am a force in the government to push policy in a different direction, particularly on the environment," he told the paper. "I make no bones about it. I don't think the government as a whole is yet ready to take the magnitude of the decisions I think are necessary."
The Sunday Times reckons that events of the last week have made Meacher's position in the government "even stronger." Surely, this is wishful thinking. The Daily Summit expects the summit to be Michael's swansong.
| 11:51 AM
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