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[Friends of the Earth]

August 31, 2002

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

David Steven | 02:38 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 29, 2002

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.

David Steven | 10:56 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 28, 2002

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 and SABC today.

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.

David Steven | 03:35 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 24, 2002

NGOs have had a chance to lobby President Mbeki, according to the BBC's Alex Kirkby.

After the meeting, Tony Juniper of the Friends of the Earth urged Tony Blair to also spend his time at the meeting speaking with "campaigners who represent the interests of real people" rather than big business.

David Steven | 01:38 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 11, 2002

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."

David Steven | 12:50 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 4, 2002

Jonny Corporate Tony Juniper was speaking to Radio Earth Summit, which is Friends of the Earth International's hard hitting contribution to the summit.

Radio Earth Summit is "primarily focused on gathering stories from people who have been affected by the activities of multinational corporations." (It goes without saying that only negative impacts figure on the site).

Radio Earth Summit also invites you to play tricks on Jonny Corporate - a flash animated "virtual pet", who lives in a world where money rules and people mean nothing.

JC (a fat, pink, suit-wearing, cigar smoker) spends his time on the mobile phone, waving bills. You are then invited to "make sure he knows his place," by crashing the stock market, regulating his company, and pelting him with custard pies.

The coup de grace? You explode his cigar to kill him off, of course.

David Steven | 01:03 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


Back on the streets Tony Juniper, soon to be Director of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, has warned of the danger that the World Summit will turn out to be Rio minus ten, rather than Rio plus ten.

"Even some of the basic agreements made at Rio are under attack from some governments," he says, identifying the US as the biggest offender.

"If we don't see a recommitment to sustainable development," he warns, "then the street protests that have characterised the last couple of years will be back big time."

Listen to his remarks here, here, here and here.

David Steven | 11:41 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


 

[sidelights]

New Page 1

THe Summit Awards
Our prizes for the people who made the summit...
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DAMMING DEVELOPMENT
Is sustainability good for you?...
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WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY
The bottom line on corporate responsibility...
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FURNACE OR BONFIRE
Do we live in a Malthusian world?...
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A HUMAN VOICE
The lowdown on the blogging phenomenon...
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charles secrett
Executive Director of Friends of the Earth
[more]

 

Shahida Jamil
Federal Minister for the Environment, Govt of Pakistan
[more]

 

Jane Goodall
Primatologist and conservationist
[more]

 

Naomi Klein
Author of "No Logo"
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Michael Dorsey
Director of the Sierra Club
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Matt Thomas
Head of Renewables, npower
[more]

 

Tladi John Nlovu
Summit driver and entrepreneur
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Lloyd Anderson
Director of Science, The British Council
[more]

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