[News and Views]
August 31, 2002
Daily Summit has not been following
the summit process closely today - we were taking a walk
However, Jeffrey Lean's breathless piece
(if the summit fails, the international system collapses - but a weak agreement would be worse. Does Blair realise this is the biggest challenge of his premiership?) in the Sindie provides a point of departure for a catch-up.
Lean gives marks out of ten the chances of success in each critical area (where 10/10 involves the text adopting the most environment correspondent-friendly language).
Water and sanitation
. Lean says 9/10 and Daily Summit thinks he's right. The US was always going to fold on this, we reckon, but had been holding on to increase its bargaining power (an alternative view here
. Lean says 2/10. Daily Summit has long said the target on renewable energy was dead, but is amazed that Lean has heard the programme for access to energy for the poor is "buried." The EU was always going to trade renewables for access - but we find it hard to believe they've lost both. (Background to this here
. Lean says 4/10. We think there's lots of noise on subsidies, but this issue will be fairly easily resolved by reference to the Doha
trade round. Biodiversity
. Lean says 3/10 and Daily Summit has very little info - sorry. Over-consumption
: Lean says 4/10, because the US wants voluntary agreements in this area which it will then ignore. Daily Summit expects the EU to press ahead, claiming that resource efficiency
will be a source of competitive advantage in the future.
. Lean is surprised how far this has gone and so is Daily Summit (more on this here
). He gives 5/10, we're still think the US will hold out and go for 4/10. This evening's news is that Ambassador Ashe - him again
- has proposed a compromise text that is nearly identical to the FoE text
, and the EU is close to coming on board. (If FoE wins on this, let no-one utter the words: "civil society was ignored" or "corporate takeover" in respect of this summit.)
. Lean ignores this, but we hear a text was agreed today in which states who have ratified Kyoto urge others to do the same in a "timely fashion." Pretty anodine - but NGOs have been making lurid claims that the US was going to "gut" the treaty of all reference to Kyoto.
More on all this tomorrow (please just gloss over if it's too technical or boring!)...
| 11:59 PM
"Americans are as moved
by people living in desperate poverty as anyone else. It's got nothing to do with them being against poor people.
"They just don't want to waste taxpayer's money on corrupt regimes, countries with no capacity, or those UN agencies that are notorious for spending money with no controls."
Bet you can't guess who
| 10:05 PM
Ronald Bailey is also rather good
on the weirdness
of UN summits...
| 09:11 PM
Ronald Bailey asks what energy sources
will fuel the 21st century in an article
written for Reason magazine.
Daily Summit would add one point to his discussion of developing countries and renewable energy. The rural poor have a huge amount to gain from renewables, which will lead to more distributed patterns of energy generation in developing countries. Just as mobile telephony is hugely attractive in countries that haven't built fixed line telephone infrastructure, so solar and wind power is more economically viable in countries that are decades away from completing a "natonal grid." However, again as with cell phones, it is rich world demand that will drive down prices to levels that make these technologies accessible to the poor.
Interestingly, access to energy is one area where the EU is not pressing for a "target and timetable," although we understand it values progress on this issue much more highly that action on renewables (a card it either has, or is about to, throw away in the negotiations).
We asked the British delegation this in their daily press briefing and the answer went as follows: a realistic goal in some countries is merely to provide electricity to key nodes in the rural infrastructure, such as schools, clinics, and small businesses, often using renewable energy for the pragmatic reasons outlined above. A target to provide modern energy to xx% of people by 20yy cannot yet be achieved - but is a logical next step once progress begins to be made.
(See also this renewable energy interview
| 09:07 PM
The Times of London remains in the gutter,
publishing another commentary
on Africa by the repellent Matthew Parris.
A few weeks ago, Mr Parris told
us that Africa's elite are volatile, rapacious, brutal, infantile, cruel, corrupt cheats who have poor taste in luggage. "The little people," meanwhile, are easily-led by those who act in a "kingly manner."
Today, he concludes that John Prescott, the British Deputy Prime Minister, is an "African politician," because "he is a bruiser, he has charm, and he does not do much."
Mr Prescott could mingle easily with any African dictator, he continues, because he is fat, aggressive, likes cars, spends too much money on clothes, and dances in public. He has the same qualities that, supposedly, "made Idi Amin simultaneously murderous and fun."
Africans, you see, spend their lives either swaggering or grovelling, switching between the two states with "bewildering speed." Nelson Mandela did neither, but is "not the natural democratic product of his own people." Without apartheid, South Africans could never have elected such a leader.
Africans, Mr Parris believes, can only work "mindlessly in gangs under order" or "ingeniously and creatively alone," and are unable to do anything in-between.
This is why "it is of limited use spouting in Johannesburg about the importance of water." When a pipe is put in, there is little chance the community will look after it. "The failure of the whole concept of the ascription of responsibility to individuals, mean that what is created or started is not maintained."
This is a cultural, not a genetic problem, Mr Parris reassures us. "Their people are victims of their own culture. Released from a culture which exalts what is vain- glorious and undervalues what is worthwhile, what could they not achieve?"
| 08:31 PM
What did the demonstrators want? It was easiest to tell what they were against. Bush, Israel, Mbeki, and privatisation came top of most lists.
"Who let the dogs out? " went one popular chant. "Bush, Bush," came the enthusiastic reply.
A strong Palestinian contingent had predictable views on Israel, but anti-Israeli (and probably anti-Jewish) feeling united many in the crowd. Osama bin Laden was acclaimed a hero by some protestors, with one banner calling for him to bomb Sandton.
There was a split in attitude towards President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Social Movement Indaba denounced him as a dictator. A spokesman from the Landless People's Movement, however, said that "when the US declares war on anyone we have a duty to defend them," indicating that co-operation between the LMC and the Zimbabwe delegation continues.
These issues, however, have only marginal impact on many of those marching today. Demonstrators told Daily Summit they cared most about domestic political staples such water, electricity, crime, employment, and housing.
" For the first time since 1994, there is mass opposition to the governing alliance in this country," a spokesman for Social Movement Indaba said after the march. "This is an incipient movement and it is not quite there. But I believe it can become something big."
| 07:33 PM
So the march is over,
the protestors have been bussed out of Sandton, the barbed wire unravelled, and the roads re-opened.
As reported earlier
, the day began in confusion, as different groups jockeyed for position at the front of the parade. And there was further delay as organizers told us we'd lined up facing the wrong direction and then attempted to turn the whole march round.
From then on, everything ran smoothly, apart from anxiety that the truck leading the march was about to run out of fuel (“comrades, we can make it through this difficulty,” someone shouted over the PA).
We started with three or four thousand people, but imperceptibly the crowd seemed to grow. Your correspondent estimated 15,000 people at its peak (other reports
are saying 10,000). As is traditional, the organizers gave a much higher figure. Up to 50,000 their spokesman told me.
It was hot, but the crowd was in fine spirits - dancing, singing and chanting, with marshals working tirelessly to keep each group together. The police seemed relaxed too - filming the crowd through scores of cameras, but otherwise prepared to watch and wait.
The people of Alexandra lined the route to watch the march pass, and proved remarkably tolerant as cameramen jockeyed for position on their walls and, in a few cases, roofs.
The march passed through the poor and very poor parts of town. The former sported newish, post-Apartheid housing; the latter were many times more squalid. "See how we are forced to live," shouted one woman as the protest passed.
There was a brief, and final, burst of energy as the crowd reached Sandton, after walking 10 kilometres in the hot sun. As the speeches started, however, many in the crowd drifted away, others opened picnics, while some lay down in the road and fell asleep.
The only flashpoint was the sudden arrival at the rally of South African minister, Essop Pahad. Spotted from the platform, he was immediately ridiculed and, if reports
are to be believed, had to make a swift getaway.
Violent confrontation had seemed inevitable until the protestors were given permission to march on Thursday. Only the media seemed displeased with the day as they headed back to Sandton.
"I have been waiting all week for them to riot," a journalist told Daily Summit, shaking his had ruefully as he went in search of a better story.
| 06:21 PM
The demonstrators have just arrived at Sandton after a four hour march from Alexandra.
The organisers are cock-a-hoop at the size of the crowd (estimates range from 15 - 50,000) and the fact it seems to have totally eclipsed the official march - word is being passed round that only 3000 were in attendance when President Mbeki arrived to speak.
The tempo has quickened slightly as we approach the convention centre, which appears to be heavily fortified. Next up: the rally.
Daily Summit'll keep you informed...
| 03:03 PM
In the news
many of the 102 expected world leaders are travelling today. Vincente Fox of Mexico
flies in via Mozambique. Indonesia's
Megawati Soekarnoputri is to bring a large team. And Jack McConnell is representing Scotland
| 12:04 PM
There are two marches today, anti-ANC in the morning and pro-ANC this afternoon.
This morning's march was supposed to start at ten, but descended into chaos as arguments ensued about which groups should march at the front.
An hour late, however, we are finally setting off on what promises to be a long, hot and noisy journey from the poverty of Alexandra to the opulence of Sandton.
| 11:13 AM
In the news
it's a race
against the clock. Tempers begin
to fray. The summit pollutes
. Sex lessons required
for leaders. US to benefit
from global warming? Anti summit distrusts
trade lobby. 40,000 expected
on the streets. Sketch
from John O'Farrell. World Bank programme under
on seed banks.
| 10:34 AM
"Fatigue and the International Political System" - would make a good doctoral thesis, especially as negotiators are the most sleep deprived.
Off marching now, but keep the comments coming in...
| 09:01 AM
The Washington Post gets over-excited
at the "anti-summit": "organized by the Landless People's Movement and the Anti-Privatization Forum, the conference has transformed a crumbling, stucco theater with dim lights, rotten shutters and cracked concrete floors into a base from which to launch cross-border raids on the free-market philosophy that dominates the U.N. conference."
| 08:49 AM
Charles Secrett has been one of the most visible
campaigners here at this summit.
In this characteristically outspoken interview with Daily Summit, he defends America's attitude to targets, blasts Oxfam and others who wrote
the summit off before it started, and says the NGO movement is still trying to work out the criteria by which it will judge the summit's success.
Read the full interview here
| 02:38 AM
Mechai Viravaidya is a hero
in the struggle against AIDS, so Daily Summit was honoured to catch up with him earlier.
used his experience in promoting family planning in Thailand to run the developing world's most successful anti-AIDS campaign.
"It was an all out fight," he told us, with high level political commitment (Mechai became a cabinet member) and mobilisation of everyone from primary school children to policemen (the "Cops and Rubbers" scheme).
"We didn't wait for somebody to help us. We were the people dying, so we had to help ourselves. We made no moral judgement. We wanted to save lives. We went to the sex industry and we said 'you are on the front line, you will be the first to die in this war.' More people are living because we took real action."
Mechai called for Heads of State in all developing countries to chair their National AIDS Committee.
"President Mbeki should take over here in South Africa. He'd probably enjoy it."
| 01:17 AM
In the news,
a reasonable summary
of where we're at, tourism
as a solution to poverty, complaints about waste
in Sandton (from a newspaper!), and a lame attempt to weave together a theme park
in Florida and WSSD.
| 12:58 AM
Rowenna Davis spent £1800
of her own money plastering
London with 10,000 posters about the World Summit (recycled paper doubled the cost).
Today, she came to Sandton to present the official UK delegation with a letter from its counterpart at the Children's Earth Summit
The letter called for the government to offer incentives to make sustainable development more attractive; encourage environmental awareness through designers, magazines, and the media; increase government investment in renewable energy; and reduce trade barriers and support fair trade with the developing world.
It also demanded a code of conduct for corporates, backed by an international reporting mechanism - though Ms Davis admitted that young delegates from developing countries give this issue a much lower priority than their Western counterparts.
"They are interested in poverty, health, clean water and crime, with many of them wanting to bring back the death penalty," she said.
Daily Summit asked Ms Davis her impression of John Ashton, a senior Foreign Office official who received the letter on behalf of Margaret Beckett, the UK head of delegation.
"You expect a government representative to always give you the answers you want to hear, but I felt he was trying to be open and that he cared about what we were saying," she replied. "I feel hypocritical sitting in a 5 star hotel and talking about sustainable development, but it's good that I could with him after conducting what some people think of as a campaign of vandalism."
| 12:27 AM
August 30, 2002
Was London's Sunday Times one of the papers to complain about the size of the UK delegation?
Well, they've got four reporters here, I learned tonight. Hope their coverage is good the day after tomorrow!
| 11:16 PM
The comments are buzzing -
marvellous (number of posts still beats number of comments, but you're catching up fast).
To come tonight or first thing tomorrow - a letter to the UK delegation from their younger counterparts, a few snippets about Norway, and an interview with the head of Friends of the Earth, England.
And tomorrow, we're off marching again (remember last time
| 10:30 PM
David King, UK chief scientist
spoke today about the rich world's habit of cherry-picking developing country talent (see his comments on GMOs and famine here
The US, he said, has a deliberate policy of making up its skills deficit by offering a green card to anyone taking a PHD in the States.
The Chinese and Indians are becoming more relaxed about this practice, as they try to poach scientists back once they have 20 years' experience. Other developing countries, however, are less able to keep scientists, or to encourage them to return.
His remarks open up a deeper issue. We have see liberalisation in the movement of goods and capital, but not labour - which is where the third world is most competitive.
South African Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma complained bitterly about the West's use of selective quotas at the summit's opening press conference
- and this issue is set to rise up the agenda as the population ages across the developed world.
| 10:19 PM
Daily Summit is wondering
whether it has underestimated Friends of the Earth's corporate accountability campaign (see here
FoE has just told us that the South Africans remain enthusiastic and the G77 is "coming around" (though wording on "human rights, environment and labour standards" will be the price for G77 support).
The next target is the Europeans, where there are two points of resistance - the European Commission and the Germans. The Commission is taking instructions from Brussels, but it can be overruled by national ministers. Even the German delegation may be split - with the Economic Affairs Ministry thought to be the main sticking point.
So what are they promoting? Two paragraphs. The first envisages the "development" of international initiatives on corporate responsibility and accountability"; the second, a mechanism for formally reviewing public/private partnerships
Daily Summit still thinks there's zero chance of the US and Japan budging, and we'll still be pretty surprised to see the EU come out in favour…
| 09:03 PM
In the news
Tony Blair travels
on trade. Pressure is building
to come up with agreements before leaders arrive. Though there are signs that agreement
is not far away, talks may continue
through the weekend. EU says
ministers, not diplomats, should make key decisions. Bush is
interested in Africa, honest. Tightening up legislation
on biopiracy. Showdown expected
with protestors tomorrow. FT says implementation is the key
to success. The shortcomings
| 06:26 PM
| 06:21 PM
"This building has become a dangerous zone -
we are in arm twisting mode," according to Greenpeace
, at an ongoing NGO press conference. "Japan is doing the United States's dirty laundry. Japanese officials are telling ministers from developing countries that it is willing to accept the target on sanitation, only if the condition on renewable energy is removed."
Daily Summit has been predicting
that the US and Japan were holding out on water as a bargaining chip as the negotiations hit their final phase…and now it seems to be happening. The renewable energy target is now dead, in our opinion, as even the EU is losing its appetite for battle in this area.
The South African Trade Minister, Alec Irwin, an NGO hero earlier in the week because of his support for rules on corporate accountability, is now not so popular. He is supposed to be convening a meeting in a few hours which may kick the "precautionary principle" out of the summit text.
Overall NGO stance: this summit has been taken over by trade.
| 02:59 PM
Africa is currently suffering a famine.
America is prepared to help - but only by sending genetically-modified food stuffs to affected countries. It's an issue that raises passion on both sides.
"It's not just the US exporting these foods," Andrew Natsios, head of USAID, told us yesterday
. "If you buy South African maize, you're eating biotech maize. France and Germany also plant biotech corn, though not in huge quantities. We export our biotech soy beans to Europe and they've been eating them for five years with no problems."
Zambia has refused to accept any GM food and, today, Daily Summit spoke to a Zambian smallholder, Robert Kenda Chimambo, who supports his 12 people on his farm at "just above subsistence level."
He was once richer, he says, but structural readjustment policies in 1991 led to falls in agricultural incomes and rises in prices for inputs. "I have to pay twice as much for fertiliser and seed." he says.
Mr Chimambo believes that these polices have caused the famine and is angry that Zambia should be asked to import GM food. "The Germans, British and French won't eat GM food - so why should we?" he says. "I would rather starve than eat GM food."
The Zambian government's scientific adviser justifies the decision to refuse GM food aid.
"The scientific community is divided on the issue," Dr Lewanika says, "so we used the precautionary principle. Besides, if we allow in GM food aid, then some people are sure to sell it for planting in the next season and then we will never be free from it."
The government is now trying to import non-GM food, with China winning African friends by offering to help. The crisis point will be reached early next year and Dr Lewanika is confident that disaster will be averted.
Daily Summit asked the UK's chief scientific adviser, David King
, about the issue and he was critical of the US's "gung ho" approach.
"You have to respect people's views," he said, "though if someone is actually starving and you offer them GM food, I am sure 99.999% of people would accept."
The Economic Commission for Africa
, however, will be releasing a pro-GM report later today. In advance of the publication, its director, Dr Patrick Asea, described Zambia's stance as "short sighted" and its use of the precautionary principle as a luxury.
"Biotechnology is the only way out of poverty for Africa, where 70% of people are farmers," he told us, "most of whom are still using incredibly basic farming methods. African farmers suffer extreme weather conditions and very poor soil. Household incomes will only go up when we have more sturdy varieties of the crops."
Dr Asea criticised the decline of donor investment in agriculture. "Crops that matter to Africans, such as yams, cassava and millet, are not receiving investment," he said. "We call them the orphan crops."
| 02:39 PM
In the news pessimism
from the Scotsman. Canadian warns
on GM crops. Britain running
out of gas? Summit causes
real estate bonanza. Poor/rich divide comes to a head
in the energy debate. Two 'enemies' make
peace. Fatigue hits
journalists. The debate is set to sharpen
when the leaders fly in next week. Blair is to push
for alternative energy.
| 02:23 PM
The British media is restless
after Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, gave an interview
to Geoffrey Lean of the Independent.
The British delegation had been adamant that Mr Prescott would have no contact with the press at the summit and journalists are complaining about a stitch-up. The UK has previously won much praise for its handling of the press, but relationships are more frosty this morning…
| 01:07 PM
We're promised an all night session here as the EU ups the pressure to try and force an agreement.
Until now, discussion of contentious issue has mostly been carried out in small contact groups, where officials meet with other officals.
Now, the EU wants all the issues under dispute bundled together for discussion by ministers. However, it met considerable resistance when it pushed for this approach late last night, and a period of chaos seems to have ensued.
Most official delegates still seem confident of agreement, but the clock is ticking and the atmosphere in Sandton is noticeably more tense this morning.
The EU has a list of 14 areas where it wishes to see considerable movement. To the Daily Summit's untutored eye, it seems like a worryingly long list.
The areas are: the Rio Principles, good governance, human rights, world solidarity fund, sanitation, energy, sustainable development and consumption, natural resources, climate change, globalisation, the social dimensions of partnerships and global public goods.
One Daily Summit source suggested that, although there still seemed to be plentiful political will, the negotiating team are facing difficulties because of the sheer amount of work to be done - much of this work, of course, should have been done at the final preparatory meeting in Bali.
| 12:17 PM
In the news
there is the good
US and the bad
US. Pressure increases
on famine striken countries to accept GM aid. Mining takes
a front seat today. Emirates offer
$1 million for environment pioneers. 20,000 police are to keep
a check on tomorrow's demonstrations. The loss
of seed banks is a serious threat to biodiversity. More on the dispute
over business rules.
| 11:30 AM
"Castro, Gaddafi, Mugabe and Blair - there goes the neighbourhood!" a billboard for a South African radio station's coverage of the Summit.
| 11:04 AM
For some reason
this article from the London Times is still on your correspondent's mind
| 10:56 AM
Today's Earth Negotiations Bulletin reports
that global targets on renewable energy may be junked in favour of a much looser framework of local and national targets.
Daily Summit has also heard this rumour. The EU has been a champion of a global target, with the US, Australia, Japan and the OPEC countries among many opponenets.
We also hear that the EU fears it is fighting a losing battle and may be prepared to give on this issue in for return for other concessions...
| 10:42 AM
Always at the beginning of the week,
we're getting lots of new visitors. So welcome and thanks for coming. If you like the site, do us a favour and pass word on to your friends - they've got a few days to get here before the summit's over. And do hit the comments link below each post, we're going through the pain barrier here (bad food, long days, little sleep!).
Here's a quick catch up from the past few days:
Daily Summit's been online for a month now. Last Friday, we reported greenwash
. Saturday, we interviewed Naomi Klein
and were fired on
by the police. Sunday, we were at Nasrec
, the People's Earth Summit
- and listening to the UN give its opening press conference
On Monday, we caught up with Tech Central Station
, posted an eye-popping statistic
on abortion, and introduced partnerships
. Tuesday, it was agricultural subsidies
, the restless media
and Ronald Bailey
. Wednesday, Ambassador Ashe
, the US position
, views of development
and plastic chairs
. And yesterday, Jeff Sachs
Friends of the Earth documents, an endless series
of the US press office, and rude words
On top of that, articles on blogging
, population growth
, and how the Besutho people of Lesotho and the hawkers of Joburg are coping with the challenges of development
. We've interviewed Shahida Jamil
, Michael Dorsey
, Jane Goodall
and Matt Thomas
- and heard from the entrepreneurial Tladi John Ndlovu
about what he wants...
| 10:36 AM
August 29, 2002
Crunch time is nearing, with the big action probably happening Friday night, and over the weekend.
So don't slack off now - come back as often as you can bear to… And hit the comments to keep us company!
| 11:00 PM
The Economist (back on form)
sorry for the Americans, though it thinks
President Mbeki has got it wrong…
| 10:56 PM
Is this the best you can do?
Daily Summit promised to stop going on about the US's abject failure to tell its story at the summit (here
, and here
Unrepentant, however, we return to the subject, provoked beyond endurance by the American media's craven coverage of today's press conference.
"America fights back," the papers announce in unison (here
We're supposed to be impressed that the government of the world's richest country can hold a press conference?
Read my lips, guys: YOU'RE NOT GETTING YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS.
With old media this pusillanimous (and worse, boring), I can see why you had to invent the new stuff...
| 10:53 PM
Friends of the Earth is preparing
a list of Type II partnerships it regards as "iffy" or suspect, and Daily Summit has obtained a draft copy.
For those new to the site, these partnerships aim to bring together government, business and civil society to deliver sustainable development, and especially to solve the problems of the poor.
The list (saved electronically as iffypartnerships.doc) will undoubtedly be released to great fanfare - but Daily Summit reckons FoE has so far failed to dig up anything too damaging.
Some objections are against corporations or industries the NGO doesn’t like, rather than against the substance of the partnership. Exxon Mobil's
work combating malaria among its workforce in 30 countries is "iffy" because the company is believed to have lobbied George Bush on climate change. TotalFinaElf's
involvement in micro-credit in Indonesia is suspect because of its presence in Burma.
An innocuous project getting the advertising industry involved in communicating sustainable development fails to find favour because "the marketing industry has done more than anyone [sic] else to drive consumerism in the Global North." A mining initiative and a project to prevent oil spillages in the Mediterranean are seen as ways of protecting fossil fuel industries.
Other objections are substantive - but a bit thin. Methane cars shouldn't be promoted in Italy by Fiat
, because fuel cell vehicles cause less pollution. A UK commitment to tackle illegal logging is problematic because the partnership doesn't have strong enough targets. Likewise, a chemical industry initiative doesn’t go far enough.
FoE's best story is probably the CropLife
Partnership, which may well be a cover for the promotion of biotechnology.
However, Daily Summit thought the idea that stank the most was for a "comparative matrix of forest certification schemes." The FSC
scheme, initiated by WWF, is well known and well respected - a proliferation of rival standards can only confuse consumers.
FoE are still working on the list - so we'll see how it plays when they release it to the rest of the press...
| 07:07 PM
In the news
is agricultural subsidies
to rich nations' farmers. Wes preaches
the gospel of compost. Head of UN agency says
Aids should be first priority. India moves
towards the use of renewable energy sources. More on partnerships
. US claims
world leadership in Sustainable Development. Powell says
it's a marthon, not a sprint. Israel and Jordan to unveil
a plan to preserve the Dead Sea.
| 07:02 PM
| 05:58 PM
Daily Summit has been giving the Americans
a hard time over the inability of the richest, most powerful country in the world to run even an adequate press operation (see here
We think we've made our point and we're going to stop now (after all they did have two events for the press today). But we're going to make two last points.
First, around 35 journalists were at the briefing (though many, many more were at the press conference, covered below
). This represents less than 1% of the journalists accredited to the summit and Daily Summit was amazed when the delegation expressed satisfaction with the attendance.
Second - we've found a rather surprising ally in this campaign: Andrew Natsios
, head of USAID
, the US development agency.
"The United States has provided enormous leadership in the past few years and also in the Clinton years," he said today. "The President's Millennium Challenge Account
is a revolution in the way aid is dispersed. It's disgusting we haven't received more credit."
So what's gone wrong? Daily Summit asked Mr Natsios.
"We’re not telling our story," he admitted. "Our programmes are among the best in the world. Now, the President has injected 50% more money, but no-one is talking about it. We've spent $275 million since January rebuilding Afghanistan, but no-one knows about it."
| 04:09 PM
Economist Jeff Sachs boosted his summit profile
when he became the first individual to hold a press conference in the main press room here in Sandton.
Daily Summit had to pass up on that one - but fortunately your correspondent caught up with Professor Sachs
when he turned up later in the day to pour scorn on the United States's first major press conference of the summit.
Security was tight, as Under Secretary of State, Paula Dobriansky
attempted to stand up President Bush's promise that the US delegation would arrive in Joburg with "concrete and practical proposals."
The US motto for the summit is "words are good; actions better," Ms Dobriansky told us.
"What action?" was Professor Sach's reaction afterwards. "If everyone in the rich world gave $10 a year - that would be $10 billion. With that, we could tackle the AIDS epidemic. We can afford that. We don't need to plead poverty - we have a $10 trillion a year economy. We have chosen not to recognise that $10 could make a difference and the lack of that causes death on this administration's watch."
Daily Summit sent the ex-Harvard economist into hyperdrive when it asked whether that quantity of money could be effectively spent.
"Polio eradication, river blindness, leprosy - every time there's an injection of money we get tremendous results," he said. "This isn't pie in the sky. This isn't some crazy adventure. This is systematic."
In Malawi, he told us, the government created a scientifically-based plan for scaling up AIDS interventions - so that, in 5 years, 100,000 people could be put on anti-retroviral therapy.
"What did the donors tell them? No way, we're giving you that much. They received a letter back from the Global Fund that said 'this is a technically sound proposal, but it is too big.'"
"Malawi was talked down to treating just 25,000 people after 5 years. I have stood in a hospital in Malawi, where people are dying on one side of the corridor, being treated as outpatients on the other - all because they can afford to pay a dollar a day for treatment."
"I want accountability from the rich world. I want it to match action with its promises, its spin and its rhetoric. There's one thing I understand as an economist - real change will need money."
| 03:34 PM
In the news
- a deal
on trade and finance may be approaching. 76% of Canadians say
they want to sign Kyoto. Congressmen call
for reversal of US policy. More
on public/private partnerships. SA Ministers to take
to the streets. Greenpeace activist may be deported
| 02:28 PM
Development dammed -
two points of view that suggest sustainable development is the problem, not the solution.
In Lesotho, a huge infrastructure project leaves one woman threatening to drown herself in her village as the reservoir behind a new dam fill. Outside the convention centre, meanwhile, informal businesses march for the right to trade.
Less development, more subsistence living - says one side. More development - however unsustainable says the other.
Read the full article here
| 12:54 PM
In the news
in the Guardian finds that 56% of the British voters think that the Summit will achieve "not much", or "nothing at all". Mandela spoke
on water yesterday. Solar cooking on the menu
. Worlds apart, the difference
between porridge and oysters. More on Bush's promised
| 11:10 AM
Friends of the Earth continues
to push on corporate responsibility - despite Daily Summit's prediction
that it's a lost cause (what do we know?).
This morning, we've received a truckload of new information on the subject - most of it not previously in the public domain. It's technical, but interesting. So let's bring you up-to-date.
First - there are three texts under negotiation. The US, supported by Japan and Mexico, suggests promoting corporate accountability "through a number of ongoing public/private partnerships and voluntary initiatives."
The EU, supported by Norway, goes further. It wants to "actively" promote corporate responsibility, to "urge" businesses to do a better job, and to "strengthen efforts to develop" existing intergovernmental agreements.
It's the G77 (the club of developing countries), however, that is seeking "a monitoring mechanism" to review and monitor progress in the area.
FoE, meanwhile, is still promoting its own text, which envisages an "inter-governmental framework" to regulate business according to "international agreements on human rights, environmental, and labor standards."
Negotiations resume this evening - with John Ashe telling delegates that, in the meantime, he will be consulting with "entities both heavenly and earthly."
FoE's analysis of the situation (a) opposes the US position totally; (b) is lukewarm about the EU text which it interprets as allowing pressure to be applied for a UN declaration on the rights and responsibilities of corporations; (c) thinks the G77 proposal as "confused" and "almost worse than the US text." "It is the only one to mention a new mechanism," it says, "but apparently primarily to monitor voluntary partnerships."
Second, it appears that FoE is continuing to work with the South African government (see here
) on a "Johannesburg Process for Corporate Accountability."
With breathtaking gall, it opens: "Establishing an inter-governmental framework for binding corporate accountability is a job for governments. Civil society should have the opportunity to be consulted and involved in the process, but not in the decision making."
It then suggests: an ad-hoc inter-governmental Committee for Corporate Accountability, which would "hold public hearings in local communities to examine the impacts of corporations at least every 6 months" and be guided by various provisions in the Rio Declaration. Civil Society would have "an explicit role in consulting with and monitoring the work of the Committee."
Affter 3 years, the Committees would present proposals for a legally binding corporate accountability framework.
| 10:56 AM
Social Movements Indaba have been given permission to march
on Saturday - following tortuous negotiations with the police. The runaway horse is in stable condition
. Meanwhile, US congressmen in a press conference a few moments ago called on the US to targets on renewable energy.
| 10:04 AM
What NGOs say about each other -
part 1, hopefully, of a long and entertaining series.
"These eco-babes often have difficulty with serious political agendas."
"You have to be careful whether you catch him before or after a demonstration. He has a metabolism that thrives on tear-gas."
And that discharges most of the rash promises
we made for today's coverage...
| 02:55 AM
War is over?
Greenpeace and the Business Action on Sustainable Development have shaken
hands on climate change...
| 02:55 AM
Very few people at the summit
have a bad word to say for sustainable development.
It's impossible, for example, to find a business person here in Sandton who doesn't believe the triple bottom line
is the most important thing since double entry book-keeping.
has a little encampment in Sandton Square for example. "Human value for sustainable partnerships" "Sustainability - it can be done." "Innovative technology for sustainable mobility." "Intelligent systems for sustainable manufacturing." It gets a little wearing after a while.
It's been left to the Informal Business Forum, a free market outfit representing hawkers, farmers, home workers and the like, to break the consensus.
Today they marched (legally) on Sandton, bearing banners calling not for sustainable development, but development now.
"We call on our government and governments around the world to deregulate our industry and to decentralise control over our lives and economic activity," their declaration read. "We can live a better life, and afford better housing, food and insurance, only if the government leaves us alone and allows us to trade."
The hawkers are particularly irked at being quietly moved away from Sandton before the summit started.
Taxi drivers, hoteliers, restauranteurs and the phone company (we've already spent a fortune on painfully slow dial-up connections) are all making good money this month - but the hawkers have missed out.
"We form an integral part of the South African economy, but we are the constant victims of the authorities taking punitive measures against us," says Edmund Elias, liaison officer for the Gauteng Hawkers Association.
| 02:37 AM
Daily Summit is feeling rather mean
after receiving a charming little email from the US press office (catch-up here
Tomorrow, there will be two briefings. Off the record, we'll hear about US leadership on health. While on the record - and, drum roll, in the main media centre - they'll be talking about US commitment to partnerships.
And there's a time for both. One o'clock for the former. Two o'clock for the latter.
| 02:33 AM
The Lesotho Highlands Water Project
is Africa's biggest ever infrastructure project.
It diverts water from the Orange Water Basin to the region around Joburg and already earns the tiny country of Lesotho 15% of its GDP.
Tomorrow, Daily Summit has an article reporting on the social impact of this project. But for tonight, another seemingly inevitable effect of large development expenditure: corruption.
It's a long and murky story. Here are the bare bones.
With billions of dollars at stake, some of the world's biggest construction companies decide to employ middlemen to help win them contracts.
This is how it goes.
The company transfers money to the middleman. The middleman takes a cut and transfers the rest of the money to a Mr Masupha Sole, who happens to be… the person responsible for awarding the contract.
After many years driving flash cars, Mr Sole ends up in court - and is sent down for 18 years.
And then the prosecutions against the companies start, with the following expected to face charges: Acres International
(Canadian); Coyne et Bellier
, Spie Batignolles
and Dumez International
, Lahmeyer International
, Spie Batignolles and Ed Zueblin
(Swedish); Universal Development Corporation and Electro Power Corporation (Panamanian); Associated Consultants and Project Managers (Lesotho), Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners, and Kier International
(British) and Impregilo
(Italian), and Lesotho Highlands Project Contractors (German).
Verdicts in the first case (against Acres International) are expected on September 13.
On top of this, there's embarrassment for the World Bank, one of the project's major funders. For a start, it stands accused of keeping Mr Sole in his job, even after the Lesotho government wanted him removed.
And more seriously, its investigation of the case seems to have been less than rigorous. Companies involved in corruption are supposed to be banned from receiving future bank contracts.
But the word is the Bank decided to ban the middlemen - not the principals.
Different sides draw different morals from this story. Campaigners see further proof that big business and big governments cannot be trusted. Development-sceptics are confirmed in their view that it is impossible to spend large quanties of aid wisely....
| 01:55 AM
August 28, 2002
The media has obviously failed to perform to standard. We work here in Sandton, in a vast (and at this time of night, rather chilly) warehouse, with seating for 1000 or so.
Currently, only a hundred or so are still working, and the organisers are taking the opportunity to collect up all the chairs. Why? They are to be replaced by plastic ones. Ours are needed by "the VIPs".
| 09:26 PM
"Invisible" US press conferences -
the plot thins, and thickens (previous episodes here
A few moments ago the American press office was on the phone to say information about press briefings was now on the web
and tomorrow's press conference had been confirmed
Daily Summit rushed excitedly to the site. Only one problem, though. We have a subject for tomorrow. We have a venue. But the "notification" doesn't give a time.
Still its progress. One could always wait around all day...
| 08:36 PM
So, back to being
an unofficial US press officer.
The US is taking a bashing here in Joburg for its position on water and sanitation - as Daily Summit explained
in (possibly tedious) detail earlier…
But, wait! It has a response - called the Water for Poor Initiative
, a "signature action" which will, inter alia, "propose grant funding of up to $450 million over the next three years for water supply, sanitation and health projects."
There's only one problem. Daily Summit has received reports from a pretty good (i.e. non-NGO) source that none of this $450 million is new money - but represents existing commitments, neatly repackaged.
Your correspondent has asked the US press office for clarification and is sitting here holding its breath…
| 08:13 PM
The Daily Summit continues its brave battle
to represent US opinion on key issues - which is a good thing, because the US delegation is make a total hash of this job.
Yesterday, we recounted our bizarre journey to their press office, where we discovered that they were
holding press briefings, just not telling many journalists about them (see
"One gets the impression the US doesn't like playing with the other children.")
Today, we contacted them again. Guess what! Another "invisible" briefing - this time on energy - was held today at 1 pm.
There are plans to set up a website, the press officer told me, so that we journalists can find out what's going on.
OK. Deep breath. Four questions: (1) Will the website be ready before the summit ends? (2) Why, at 7pm, do you not yet have details of tomorrow's briefing? (3) Will you keep Daily Summit informed now you've been given our email twice? (4) And when do you plan to start advertising press conferences in the media centre where a thousand or so journalists are milling around at any one time?
| 07:57 PM
Robert Mugabe has reacted
to an opposition march at WSSD, by sending his police to raid
| 07:13 PM
Daily Summit's logfiles show
someone arrived at the site from Google when searching for the phrase "world toilet summit."
I thought it was a joke. But, no, this event happened
- in Singapore 2001...
| 07:05 PM
George Bush and forest management?
Daily Summit belatedly catches up with an interesting article
from the ever-reliable Slate.
| 06:52 PM
Thanks for the link to Centre for Study of Violence
, Courier International
, UN Volunteers
, iNet News
, the British High Commission
in Malaysia, Pssst
, The Volokh Conspiracy
, Insider's Guide to Davos
, As Maine Goes
, Duncan Smeed
, Andrew Careaga
, Craig Cheslog
, The Plastic Cat
, Everything Burns
, The New Forum
, Timothy Wilken
, Martin Roell
, The British Embassy
in Berlin, Z/links
, Convention on Bio-diversity
, Norbert's Bookmarks
, The Harry Timez
, Donovan's Coral Reef weblog
, Durban Chamber of Commerce & Industry
, Health Systems Trust
, Sassafras Log
and finally, the US Department of Energy
| 06:30 PM
takes an early overview
of commentary on the Summit and divides it into "pro-summit romantics and anti-summit cynics". Chris Horner believes Bush should fight back
against anti-US sentiment. Today at the Summit water
makes it big. India signs
the Kyoto Protocol. Meanwhile, a runaway horse causes
havoc in the streets of Sandton.
| 06:09 PM
In the news
Leonardo de Caprio gives
the Summit a miss. A snail
flies the flag for British business. One of the youngest delegates issues a challenge
| 04:29 PM
Two views of development
- from Lesotho and South Africa (relevant to yesterday's post
Mamptiti Mfela is a widow from Lesotho.
"We are scared of these big cars that pass on the new road near our houses," she says. "It is too noisy. The silence we used to enjoy is no longer there. I would love to go back to the time when there was no road. The road is hazardous to us. It kills our animals. It kills our children. We don’t enjoy this road."
BJ Buthelezi is a farmer in South Africa.
"Freedom is being taken away from us as farmers," he says, "by people who come and tell us which crops we are allowed to plant. People tell us that technology is not for us and GM food is not good for us. We are for GM technology. I am cotton farmer, but four years ago, biotechnology multiplied our yield three times, which put more money in our pockets."
More on these stories - one calling for the freedom to develop, the other for freedom from development - this evening...
| 03:58 PM
Friends of the Earth
has just handed a press release around the media centre claiming that Michael Meacher, UK environment secretary, "was today prevented from speaking to the press (including the BBC) by Alistair Campbell, Prime Minister Tony Blair's press secretary."
The UK delegation has reacted angrily to the suggestion, pointing out that Mr Meacher conducted interviews with GMTV
, Business Day
The FoE media source is not currently answering his phone - so Daily Summit has so far been unable to question them about the source for their story.
| 03:35 PM
this time on sanitation - which is at the heart of some heated discussions here.
Here, as Daily Summit understands it, is what they're arguing about.
The summit will adopt (if all goes to plan) two documents. First, a political declaration which is being pulled together by the South Africans and is currently shrouded in almost total mystery.
Second, an implementation plan, of which 70% or so was agreed at the summit's final preparation meeting (prepcom
) at Bali.
Para II.7 in the implemenation plan reads as follows: "[Dramatically reduce]/[Halve by 2015] the proportion of people lacking access to improved sanitation."
The square brackets show an area of disagreement, with two options still on the table.
The EU, and its allies, want a clear target for this commitment - the US and its allies do not.
Both positions have been criticised. A senior NGO leader told Daily Summit that the EU was signing up to a commitment it had no intention of taking steps to meet.
A source in a European delegation, meanwhile, speculated that the US was only holding out in this area in order to have a concession it could make when the negotiations go to the wire...
| 03:00 PM
Yesterday, Daily Summit reported controversy
on the US position on two issues (here
) - here, at long last, is our current understanding of the US position (see here
, for how we found this out).
On agricultural subsidies, the US claims that its Farm Bill
was intended to reduce subsidies, not increase subsidies (as has been reported across the world).
The bill, it says, replaces an older provision, which had been supplemented by a host of emergency provisions. As a result, the total amount of money on the table has fallen slowly.
This explanation provoked hoots of derision among many Daily Summit contacts, but - lo and behold - it's true.
An expert we talked to, however, pointed out that there were still major problems with this US legislation (and with the EU subsidy regime, too).
Most important are so-called "anti-cyclical subsidies" - which only kick in as market prices fall. American farmers therefore have no incentive to respond to demand. The result: over-production which leads to further suppression of prices - and possibly "dumping" of cheap food on developing country markets.
The second issue concerns support for a proposal to "achieve" access to the markets of rich and richer developing country markets for products from the poorest countries.
The US says it is a leader in helping poor countries get richer through trade - especially through its Alcoa 2
initiative, which targets African countries.
The point remains, however, that this is another area where the US delegation is - for the moment, at least - resisting firm targets for implementation, as is shown by its suggestion that a promise to "achieve" the goal be replaced by efforts to "take steps towards" it.
| 02:45 PM
The evils of business
weigh heavily on the minds of campaigners here in Johannesburg, with dark muttering about "corporate takeover" at many fringe meetings.
to all this is the enormous success of the anti-globalisation movement (they prefer "global justice").
But what do NGOs want done to stem the tide of corporate sin? The brief answer is binding rules, at a global level, on corporate responsibility - preferably enforced by the International Criminal Court.
In advance of today's NGO press conference on this issue, we explore proposals made by Friends of the Earth - get a slightly testy response from business, and reveal that the South African government is now getting involved.
The bottom line, however, is that - whatever the NGOs say in public - in private, most admit there is no chance of the summit recommending a binding corporate accountability framework in its final declaration.
US, Europe - and a host of other countries - may not have said 'no' yet. But there can be no doubt they will.
Read the full article
here and then hit the comments button below...
| 01:37 PM
The South African press conference
has been dominated by questions about who is allowed into the convention centre and which entrance they should be allowed to use.
Silly and trivial, sure. But gripping stuff for those who are here.
Apparently, civil society delegates nearly walked out of this summit yesterday because of this issue. And today, your correspondent was forced to walk along a dual carriageway after being barred from an entrance he has been using without problem over the past few days.
More scary than being fired on with concussion grenades
? Probably not. But it was a close run thing...
| 01:00 PM
In the news
several countries are contemplating
ratification of the Kyoto Protocol
at Jo'burg. But getting to the magic figure of 55% is not going to be easy.
is widely expected to announce its decision here, but Canada's position is still unsure
. Thailand has apparently decided to go ahead.
| 12:46 PM
Ambassador Ashe has just reported a major breakthrough
on globalisation, trade and finance.
The Ambassador represents Antigua and Barbuda
at the United Nations, but he has assumed a pivotal role at this conference as chair of a "contact group" on trade, finance and sustainable development.
A contact group allows a small number of government negotiators to disappear into a room to bash away at parts of the text that are especially contentious.
Last night, apparently, there was a breakthrough, after a session that went on to 3 am (there's growing number of exhausted people here in Sandton).
Apparently agreement has now been reached on 99% of the globalisation, trade and finance issues. The remaining sticking points are whether the conference should call for additional progress on phasing out agricultural subsidies - over and above that agreed at the Doha trade talks.
There are also still arguments about how globalisation should be defined.
"Do we give it a positive spin?" said the Ambassador. "Or do we show it in all its aspects - good and bad."
| 12:44 PM
John Prescott is in town and the British media are sniffing for an angle to attack their least favourite politician.
Mr Prescott's handlers today issued a statement from the UK's Deputy Prime Minister, but announced that he won't be allowed anywhere near the press.
"I am pleased to be here at this crucial summit to play a part in securing success," Mr Prescott's statement read. "Failure can only mean more poverty, hunger and environmental degradation. We are working against a background of cynicism and misunderstanding."
The DPM said his job is to be Tony Blair's "eyes and ears" at the summit. He is expected to fly home as the Prime Minister arrives. One hopes they will meet at the airport - if only to shake hands...
| 12:36 PM
In the news,
a group of students from London are working
with counterparts from Soweto to come up with a vision for the environmental future after spending study time in the Umfolzi game park. They will report their views to Children's Earth Summit, which is part of the People's Earth Summit
One project which began
in Rio with a challenge to the polar explorer Robert Swann has come to fruition just in time for the Summit. The project involved teams from 70 countries working to remove 1,000 tonnes of waste from a small area in Anarctica.
The South African Minister for Safety and Security warns that his government will deal
severely with protestors who set out to undermine the Summit.
Whilst delegates continue to clash
over renewable energy, there are reports
of agreement over a plan to save the world's fast declining fish stocks.
| 12:00 PM
The Washington Post reports US efforts
to persuade other delegates that targets are not the way to go.
"I don't know of a goal that has protected a child from a waterborne disease or provided energy to a village," the delegation told
reporters in a (poorly-publicised
) background briefing. "Goals do not by themselves bring about change or results."
| 08:08 AM
"Seasoned conference watches and delegates
commented on the predictable pattern of frustration and speculation, as colleagues begin to identify the elements of a package consisting of trade-offs and concessions for Ministerial consideration," writes this morning's Earth Negotiations Bulletin
, along with its usual highly detailed coverage of yesterday's proceedings.
| 07:58 AM
August 27, 2002
And finally for tonight,
two delegates have been drugged
and robbed by prostitutes they had picked up. We did warn
them this could happen.
: "I wasn't sure whether to be amused or impressed by the SABC
television coverage of the incident, which warned delegates to "practice safe sex," says reader, Andie Miller
. We're nothing if not a pragmatic nation!"
| 11:16 PM
Daily Summit's trip to the US press office
) did yield some interesting information, but the issues are complicated and will have to wait till tomorrow. Also coming soon: the lowdown on corporate responsibility, corruption and the World Bank, marching with the free marketeers, and the launch of the WaterDome… oh, and the nasty things campaigners say about each other!
| 11:07 PM
earthsummit.info gets in touch
to say that it has updated its list of things "an ordinary person in a rich country" can do for sustainable development. "A useful antidote to thoughts of reorganising global capitalism by a week next Wednesday," it points out.
Find the list and a few thousand other links here
| 08:41 PM
We've all heard of anti-environmentalists,
with their attack on environmental "myths". Well now there are anti-anti-environmentalists
, who attack... anti-environmentalist myths.
This, it strikes me, could be the start of a rather pointless recursive loop…
| 07:55 PM
One often gets the impression
that the US doesn't like playing with the other children.
Following Daily Summit's earlier post
, your correspondent doggedly set out to track down the US point of view on agriculture subsidies. Earlier today, we had noticed a small unobtrusive sign in the window of Sandton Library. "US press centre, first floor," it said.
Now the library isn't far from the summit's media centre - but it seems like a world away.
I'm writing this from the Bullpen - a vast hangar-like space at the back of the convention centre. Even now, at 7.00, there are still hundreds of journalists around and a buzz of activity.
The library, by contrast, is very, very quiet. I climbed the stairs to find a little office, staffed by some helpful press officers, who handed me a press pack that gives "War and Peace" a run for it money.
The US, it turns out, has a position on everything Daily Summit has been covering. It also has press conferences, it doesn't hold them in the media centre or tell anyone (apart from, presumably, the US domestic press) when and where they're happening.
The truth is that, 4 days into the negotiation, it doesn’t know how. A few minutes ago, I was standing by the media centre's information desk when a young American press officer strode up.
"Is there any system," he asked, "for distributing our press releases to journalists?"
"Of course," replied the assistant, "you take them to the press documents centre and we put them out with all the other delegations' information."
"And while you're here," she continued, "perhaps you could give us a telephone number. It would be helpful if we were able to tell journalists where they can find you."
You couldn't make it up.
| 07:05 PM
Thanks for the links to Daypop
, Independent Media Center
, Scripting News
, Shelley Powers
, Radio Sandhill Trek
, Ken Haglar
, The Providence Journal
, Dody Gunawinata
, Kitco Discussion Group
, Satellite Movement
and finally Learn English
| 06:31 PM
In the news,
the Chinese delegation, led by Premier Zhu Rongji, will seek
to shift the focus from environmental concerns towards that of debt relief for developing countries. The environmental impact of the summit itself keeps rising
, latest estimates suggest the benchmark figure set will be exceeded by 126%. Australia is accused
of being isolationist along with the US and Canada
by Joanne Green of Tearfund UK.
| 04:40 PM
currently sits at no 4 in Daypop's daily list
of sites popular with the world blogging community. Very cool. And we've even had a mention from the mighty Instapundit
: No 1 on Daypop
| 03:04 PM
"The environmentalist goal of "protecting livelihoods"
is a recipe for keeping hundreds of millions of poor people down on hardscrabble and environmentally dubious farms," says
Reason's Ronald Bailey.
"Individual opportunities and wealth creation arise through the destruction of obsolete livelihoods. Candlemakers were put out of business by electric light bulb manufacturers. Stables closed because of automobiles, foot messengers lost their jobs because telephones were invented. Most of those people moved on to better opportunities. In fact, something like eighty percent of the 'livelihoods' that support people in the rich developed world simply didn't exist a century ago."
An interesting point. Daily Summit remembers one speaker at a recent conference
talking about "preserving sustainable lifestyles" - it would be only reasonable
for us to point out that the majority of the audience was less than impressed by the idea!
: strange coincidence: as I published this post and found myself introducing myself to Ronald Bailey...
| 02:55 PM
Those who believe the summit is purely about the environment would be surprised by the heavy emphasis on trade, finance and the role of business in solving - or exacerbating - the problems of poor countries.
As well as agricultural subsidies, the UK delegation is highlighting the resistance of unnamed countries (I'd guess America and maybe Australia - though not the EU and Canada) to delivering on a 2001 commitment to open up their markets to the very poorest countries.
As with farm subsidies, the US position on this issue seems hard to understand at best, calculated to lose it friends at worst. Daily Summit will try and get clarification from the US delegation…
| 01:38 PM
Margaret Beckett, UK environment minister,
and head of the UK delegation finished speaking in plenary session a few minutes ago.
said that money spent on subsidies ($350 billion) dwarfed money spent on aid ($57 million). Opening up markets could benefit poor countries by around $150 billion a year.
The UK delegation confirms that it is lobbying hard for language in the summit agreement that will confirm commitments made at the Doha
meeting to negotiate on farming subsidies within the next trade round. They also want the Doha round completed by 2004.
By all accounts, this is the official EU position too - though as the South African trade minister has just pointed out, the UK are much more anti-subsidy than are some other countries, particularly the French.
The position of the US is more mysterious. At Doha, it strongly supported reducing subsidy, but has since introduced a Farm Bill
which has pushed subsidies up.
| 01:04 PM
The media is getting somewhat restless,
with 2932 and journalists all scrabbling after a big story.
As a result, we're about to pass into the "summit is a damp squib" phase.
Expect also to appear plenty about fire regulations here at the main convention centre
There are now 7118 delegates here and 5802 business and civil society delegates (this is in addition to those attending other events - such as the Civil Society Forum
- most of whom are now accredited for the main summit).
Fire regs, however, dictate that only 7000 people be allowed into the building at any one time - so as capacity reaches 6000, only bigwigs are going to be allowed through security.
NGO reps are horrified with many muttering darkly about conspiracy. Media were none too please either, but have now been told by the summit spokeswoman that they're exempt. Bonfire of the vanities, anyone?
| 12:33 PM
190 countries are now represented
out of a possible 195 - which is, the UN says, a record.
So who's missing? Nauru
, St Vincent and the Grenadines
, San Marino
| 12:26 PM
In the news,
who can miss the Sun's front page coverage
of the hospitality the UK delegation are receiving. Georges Monbiot ruminates on why we're not happy
with our lot. Michael Brown apologises for his part
in our nuclear waste problem. Tax on plastic bags
seems certain. US scientists research smog
at night. The Economist writes on the chances
of the Summit succeeding. McDonald's new burger found to be not very appropriate
| 11:57 AM
Daily Summit nearly made the trek out to Nasrec
early yesterday morning, where the somewhat forlorn Civil Society Forum
The draw? Nelson Mandela, who was supposed to be making an opening address. However, your correspondent had heard rumours that the great man was ill and opted for a dull, but worthy, press briefing instead.
Today, the South African Star reports
that not only did Mr Mandela not appear - he had never even been invited. The organisers, it says, had simply used his name to boost attendance.
"These people were lying and using Mr Mandela's name to get people here," said one disgruntled audience member, as the TV cameras packed up and headed back to Sandton.
| 09:53 AM
Energy is emerging a pivotal issue,
as we reported yesterday
Now, according to Earth Negotiations Bulletin
(which produces an excellent briefing on the minutiae of each day's negotiations), some delegates are suggesting that all climate change references are taken out of the summit text, with the the whole issue deferred for discussion at the scheduled meeting in the Kyoto process.
This, they believe, might be preferable to any public back-pedalling on commitments.
| 09:38 AM
Democracy is threatened by populism,
says Shahida Jamal, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Environment, Local Government and Rural Development, in an interview with Daily Summit.
"We suffer from each leader and each leaves his problems behind," she says. "Debts mount and misappropriation adds to debt. Poverty increases and the environment becomes degraded."
Read the full interview here
| 01:08 AM
You'd think that if you opened an article:
"Campaign groups at the Johannesburg Earth Summit have branded the United States, Canada and Australia an "axis of evil" for their reluctance to co-operate with the rest of the world in tackling global poverty and environmental degradation" - that somewhere in the rest
of the article you'd clarify which groups had made this claim, wouldn't you?
| 12:37 AM
A particularly good background piece
ends "for the moment it's fun to be at the WSSD and most people seem determined to enjoy it."
So far, even the people who are angry come across as remarkably good tempered...
| 12:27 AM
It's late and it may just be me,
but isn't there something disturbing about this para
from the National Geographic site?
"Several delegation sources said the talks were taking place in a 'friendly and cordial atmosphere with people talking to each other who would not normally be talking to each other—which could move the process forward.'"
I mean, is this reporter stuck in some kind of Groundhog Day
nightmare - with different delegations approaching him/her to give exactly
the same quote?
| 12:15 AM
August 26, 2002
It's busy, but not that busy here -
so far 5730 government delegates are registered at the main summit, along with 4335 representatives from the major groups (basically NGOs), and 2560 media.
The NGO forum only registered 3000 delegates on the first day - but by Friday 13,000 had arrived (many more by now, I expect).
: 540 NGO delegates paid for by the European Union were delayed because the money only arrived two days after the NGO forum opened.
Believe me, this is typical. It is to the EU's shame that it never ever pays its bills on time (and small businesses often go bust while waiting).
| 06:52 PM
Daily Summit has the first copy
of the new list of "type 2" partnerships to be released to the media - and it makes for interesting reading.
Type 2 partnerships are new for this summit - and are supposed to enhance the formal ("type 1") intergovernmental agreement.
Each partnership is supposed to bring together various permutations of government, business, and civil society - and must meet certain criteria. They must be international, prepared specifically for the summit, link with summit priorities, be transparent and fairly constructed - and have at least pilot financing in place.
They're causing plenty of arguments here (more of this in an article later today). Some NGOs are muttering about corporate takeover. The US, meanwhile, is said to be resisting formal links between type 1 and type 2, where the type 1 agreements sets a clear target, against which the impact of partnerships can be measured.
So to the list. At a rough count, it lists 330 partnerships, which - all being well - will at some stage be officially stamped with the type 2 seal of approval.
Most are led by a UN or Bretton Woods
institution, a national government, or an NGO. Only a handful have a business upfront - an African energy project led by Eskom
, a proposal for a Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases
, a marketing for sustainable development initiative led by J Walter Thompson
Canada, but these are rare examples.
Will the list satisfy the summit's press? Of course, not. The British papers, at least, are sniffing around hoping to discover that Monsanto
(or a company equally villainous) is the power behind one of the proposals. So the question tomorrow will certainly be: who are the other partners?
A partnership to thrust GMOs down poor people's throats - now that would really make my media colleagues happy.
| 06:26 PM
Some eye catching statistics
from the United Nations Population Fund
Every minute, it says, 380 women become pregant; 100 women have an abortion; 1 woman dies of a pregnancy complication; and 20-30 others suffer serious disability or injury.
Which means - according to Daily Summit's trusty calculator - that 26% of the world's pregancies end in abortion and 8% in the death or serious injury of the mother...
| 05:17 PM
According to the UK delegation negotiations at the summit are going reasonably well - though Daily Summit hears from another source that progress slowed considerably yesterday evening, after a promising start.
NGOs, meanwhile, are girding their loins for an attack on the US position which, as the Daily Summit understands it, is this: "no new targets or goals - let's focus on implementing existing agreements."
This morning rumours are rife that the US is especially keen to water down all sections covering energy. Given the US's well-known position on Kyoto, this can hardly count as a surprise...
| 02:36 PM
The first rule of summitry
is that the NGOs are never happy.
According to Jack Freeman, writing
in yesterday's Earth Times, the problem this time is not lack of access to the summit, but too much of it.
In Joburg, "NGOs are being allowed not only to mingle with government delegates but to address them in plenary sessions and share views with them in summit roundtables. (And, of course, quite a few people from the NGO ranks have also expanded their access by winning seats on the government delegations themselves.)"
But are they pleased?
Far from it.
"Now that they have access, the NGOs are discovering that they need something more-much more. They have won the right to speak, the right to be heard, the right to have their message delivered, not only to the summit delegates but, through the media, to the world at large. But that doesn't mean that the government delegates, or anybody else, have to pay attention to what they are saying."
| 02:20 PM
The worst outcome from the summit,
according to Tech Central Station
, would a World Environment Organisations (discussed here
a few days ago).
"Modelled after the World Trade Organization," it writes, "a WEO would be a multilateral body designed to settle disputes among nations over environmental concerns arising from economic growth and commercial activities."
Daily Summit can confirm that Tech Central should not worry too much. There is no chance of the WEO being discussed, let along agreed, here at the summit.
It is possible that a leader (best bet: Jacques Chirac) may mention it in his speech, but WEO-supporters must content themselves for lobbying for change within existing global institutions.
For example, UNEP, a delegate tells me, may be put on a more secure footing and strengthened. Exactly what that means, time will tell…
| 01:45 PM
The South African government
has received 17 applications for marches on August 31 - or A31, as it's being called.
Thirteen applications have been approved - four are still under discussion, with negotiations underway with leaders of the relevant groups.
Ann Eveleth, a US citizen arrested
last week, is still in custody, awaiting deportation. Her permit to work in South Africa expired in January 2001. Today is the final day for her to appeal to the government to be allowed to stay in the country...
| 01:24 PM
There's a debate starting
on agricutural subsidies, so if you're interested, read the post
, and hit the comments
| 01:08 PM
We always get a wave of new traffic
on Monday mornings (welcome) and, besides, most our regular readers probably enjoyed a totally summit-free weekend.
So some highlights from the past few days.
Interviews with Jane Goodall
, best known for her work with the chimpanzees of Gombe; Naomi Klein
, author of No Logo; Michael Dorsey
, director of the Sierra Club; Matt Thomas
on a business partnership with Greenpeace; and Tladi John Ndlovu
, one of the summit volunteers.
Articles on Malthus
and global population, why we're trying to blog
the summit, and (coming soon) both sides speak on corporate accountability.
Daily Summit has been at the first official press conference
, as well as covering clashes
between police and protestors.
It's written about the anti-globalisation (or as they prefer "global justice") movement
; taken a trip to the Civil Society encampment at NASREQ
the People's Earth Summit; and drunk cocktails at Liliesleaf
farm, which was once at the heart of the struggle against apartheid.
Today is the summit's first big working day - with streams of delegates still arriving at the airport - so stick with us as the story unfolds…
| 09:41 AM
"Huge crop circle forming in Sandton," writes
South African investment website, Moneyweb. "Okay, it's not a crop circle in the traditional sense, but the Johannesburg Summit is a reasonable facsimile for one – an artful, yet mostly meaningless gathering that can't resist reality's combine harvester."
"For ten days, South Africans will experience first-hand the sort of stultifying political correctness the UN wishes on the world. Much of the trash talking will be to scare up more environmental doom and gloom, with Greenpeace in characteristically high dudgeon as the self appointed guardian of planet earth."
Thanks to reader, Trevor Germyn, for pointing this one out...
| 09:02 AM
Jane Goodall is a star.
about chimpanzees are bestsellers across the world. Her long, patient, and pioneering studies have changed the way we think about primates and perhaps about ourselves.
has now won international respect, while Roots and Shoots
, her programme for youth, now has groups in over 50 countries across the world.
Dr Goodall is the best known of the high-level advisory panel Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, appointed to advise him on sustainable development - and she will be courted here in Joburg by some of the summit's biggest names.
She is a much quieter force than the Naomi Kleins
or Michael Dorseys
of this world.
"Confrontation can be counter productive," she says "Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don't believe is right."
However, the change she is calling for is far from uncontroversial. In an interview
with Daily Summit - her first in Joburg - she advocates considerably lower standards of living for the rich, so the poor can consume more.
Neither is she a summit fan.
"It's horrifying to think of the waste the summit will cause," she says. "All these delegates having huge and fancy meals while so many people all around are starving. It just doesn't make sense. But I have to be here. Kofi Annan put me on his panel advising on sustainable development. So I can't avoid being here."
You can read the full interview with Dr Goodall here
| 01:34 AM
It's all the rage here at the summit
to compare the world today with South Africa in the darkest years of apartheid.
Now, President Mbeki has got in on the act.
"Out of Johannesburg and out of Africa must emerge something new that takes the world forward, away from the entrenchment of global apartheid, to the realization of the goals of sustainable development," he told
delegates at tonight's opening ceremony.
"Our common and decisive victory against domestic apartheid confirms that you, the peoples of the world, have both a responsibility and a possibility to achieve a decisive victory against global apartheid."
| 12:20 AM
August 25, 2002
The People's Earth Summit was a haven of tranquillity
the intensity of Sandton and NASREC's somewhat forlorn air.
Set in the vast grounds of St Stithians College
, it styles itself as "a unique process highlighting the many positive initiatives happening around the world to save our planet."
Everyone was being so nice to each other (and to me) it was almost spooky - at least after the rough and tumble of the past few days.
But I think I know why they're so relaxed. According to their website
- there's still 6 days and 1 hours until the summit starts…
| 11:59 PM
If you need to contact me
in South Africa, call my cellphone 083 412 1282 or email
If it's not urgent, call the office +44 1202 849993 or email
them (in working hours, they may be able to respond faster than I can).
These details always available here
| 08:59 PM
One final point-of-interest
from today's press conference, was the Sunday Times, London, asking Dr Zuma what the South African government's policy was on the link between HIV and AIDS.
Many Daily Summit readers will remember that President Mbeki has been very wobbly on this issue, ever since he came across the work of dissident scientists while surfing on the net one night (which makes this a peculiarly modern story).
Somewhat fewer, we suspect, will know that the Sunday Times was once a supporter of the self-same theory and, indeed, of some of the self-same scientists.
This 1992 article
, for example, entitled "Conspiracy of Humbug Hides the Truth of AIDS," still floats around the net.
Dr Zuma replied that there was doubt about the link between AIDS and the virus - and spoke on the subject for another 15 minutes, ensuring that many media questions (including your correspondent's) went unanswered.
| 04:07 PM
Secretary General, Nitin Desai
(who was barely audible during much of the press conference) said that Rio focused on trying to change the way people thought about development. Johannesburg was about changing the way that people act."
The summit is therefore not about new agreements - but about implementation and action.
He also said that Johannesburg saw civil society on the threshold of a new role in international development. Rio marked the beginning of mass civil society engagement in the UN - but their main role was advocacy. Now civil society organisations are to become involved in partnerships for implementation.
Readers of Daily Summit will know that many NGOs have a frosty attitude to these so-called Type 2 partnerships, seeing them as part of a corporate take-over of the UN.
One possible outcome is a civil society split - with some NGOs being drawn into partnerships (that, after all, is where the budgets will be), with others protesting loudly from outside the tent.
That, after all, was what Naomi Klein (her again
), seemed to be hinting at when she criticised other activists for schmoozing with the South African government...
| 03:53 PM
Dr Zuma also emphasized that the fight against poverty was an over-riding goal for the summit - the outcome that "millions and millions of people are expecting."
Referring to the summit's early start, she said that the negotiating teams were making good progress, though she was unable to give any detail about what breakthroughs, if any, have been made.
She called for a closer co-operation between rich and poor, as well as for partnerships between government and civil society (a term she used to include business).
"My expectations are that the media will play a critical role," she said.
Given the mulish mood of some of the journalists Daily Summit has spoken to, in this last point at least, she is unlikely to be disappointed...
| 03:36 PM
The summit's first official press conference
ended a few minutes ago.
Surprisingly, the South African foreign minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
, chose to open the conference by criticising last night's demonstration
"Groups are free to demonstrate in Johannesburg, she said, but "we expect them to obey the South African laws."
Later in the conference, she returned to the subject - after prompting from activist Naomi Klein
, who also has media accreditation at the summit.
"There is no anarchy in the country," she said. "There is law. It is not allowed for people to have a meeting and then decide to march. We have to protect the people of this country. We have to protect property in this country. We have to make sure all marches are proper and legal"
"Even thought the march was not legal," she continued, "the police decided to allow it. The problem arose when some of the demonstrators decided to break away from the route they themselves had decided to march."
| 03:29 PM
The summit has been quiet
The Civil Society Forum
is being held at NASREC - a vast and somewhat shabby exhibition centre on the outskirts of town. Huge halls cluster around a central square, which holds what looks like a fun fair, closed for the season.
The fast food outlets are open though (Kentucky Fried Chicken has a special World Summit menu) - and the square is festooned with their hoardings. One imagines whoever chose to send the NGOs here had a particularly dry sense of humour.
Sandton - home of the main summit - has been quiet too, but is just beginning to come to life. A prosperous suburb to the north of the city, it looks like any rich world business quarter.
It's now been officially handed over to the UN - and only those with a precious summit pass are allowed through the tight security (I was asked to drink from my bottle of water to show the contents were nothing sinister).
The plushest hotels are those closest to the convention centre
itself - and there are probably plenty of senior delegates who will never set foot outside the restricted zone.
Early this afternoon, a seemingly endless stream of identical white Mercedes converged on Sandton - all with flashing lights and the power to make my taxi driver pull over.
Gratifyingly, they became stuck in a traffic jam (the only one-car jam I have ever seen) trying to drive into Sandton itself, while I - forced to walk - sauntered by.
Ah - the joys of a green life style...
| 02:24 PM
"I was personally very perturbed
by the highly irresponsible behavior of the demonstrators who involved children in this illegal march," says
Police Director, Henriette Best, after last night's demonstration (you read about it first here
in Daily Summit).
Reuters describes UN officials as "despondent" that the demonstrations are dominating summit coverage.
It quotes Summit Secretary General, Nitin Desai as commenting: "I hope that we start generating news here in terms of the environment. That's what will get people's attention. One has to accept that the media will pick what they want to pick in an open environment like this."
| 01:58 PM
Voice of America says
officials made little progress in Saturday's negotiations - poverty and agricultural subsidies are said to be at the heart of disagreements...
| 10:04 AM
Also in the Observer,
Jonathon Porritt realises
that NGOs are going to have a hard job convincing the UK public that the summit is important, when they have been so busy slagging it off.
The leader seems to have similar fears. It admits
its enjoyed the jokes and the jibes - but now urges the Prime Minister to remember that "it's not impossible to change the world."
I'm sure he'll cherish the advice.
| 09:59 AM
Scrapping agricultural subsidies
would be great for the poor, but awful
for the environment, says Faisal Islam in the Observer today.
"Transporting these perishables would require vastly increased use of jet fuels and other environmentally unfriendly substances," he argues. "And the West's own farmers - on strike last week on account of threats to their livelihood - would be left tangibly worse off.
| 09:51 AM
In Naomi Klein’s world
the corporate takeover is now complete, all politicians are corrupt, and suspicion of authority is the only appropriate response.
The author of No Logo
(straplines: "the book that become part of a movement" and "taking aim at the brand bullies"), Ms Klein
tells Daily Summit that Kofi Annan has been hoodwinked by the private sector, that inequality has made South Africa a security state, and why she is hoping the World Summit fails.
Shortly after this interview, Ms Klein - angry at activists who let themselves by "schmoozed" by the South African government - joined demonstrators on a march that ended
with shots being fired and confrontation with the police.
Read the full interview here
| 01:45 AM