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[United Kingdom]

September 8, 2002

One final question for today. We were warned that the world would almost certainly end if UK environment minister, Michael Meacher, did not attend the summit. (Oxfam described him as the David Beckham of the British governmental team.)

So what difference did Mr Meacher make once he made it to Joburg?

David Steven | 05:28 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

September 3, 2002

Northern Ireland First Minister, David Trimble gave a sparsely attended press conference today where, speaking from experience, he told journalists that "sustainable development requires a political solution and a local solution."

Mr Trimble took the opportunity to attack Robert Mugabe and the "ghastly mess" he has made of Zimbabwe. He also stressed "development" over "sustainable development," and warned against romantic views of "peasant agriculture." Developing countries needed to get people into the cities and the formal economy, he said.

David Steven | 04:54 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


The UK appears to be mounting a concerted media strategy today to portray the summit as a success, with an official describing the glass as "80 percent full" and Margaret Beckett, UK environment minister, telling the media that the "remarkable" outcome was better than she had though possible over the weekend.

Journalists did not seem to be impressed, with one referring to an agreement most countries would just throw in the bin, and another telling Daily Summit off the record that he knew the summit was going to be a disaster before he arrived, with the events of the past week serving to confirm this impression.

The UK has provided a detailed brief on what they think has been achieved and what gaps remain. Daily Summit will try and get hold of an electronic copy so that readers can judge for themselves...

David Steven | 01:24 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


According to Geoffrey Lean, Tony Blair's speech yesterday underlined the weakness of the summit. Writing in the "Summit Star", the Independent journalist says the British Prime Minister made the mistake of trying to "cover the whole gamut of issues in bland banalities."

David Steven | 10:22 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

September 2, 2002

Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac made a total hash of their joint press conference which finished a few minutes ago.

They kept the media waiting for half an hour, while the room was rewired so that they could speak while standing up (probably a hundred press conferences have been conducted with the great and the good sitting down).

An official was then heckled when he announced that the leaders would not be speaking about the summit, but only about an Franco-Anglo initiative to encourage private financing of development.

After the leaders had finished speaking, further chaos ensued. It transpired that the microphone used to ask questions was no longer working. Mr Blair gamely tried to hear what reporters were shouting, but the translators in their booths were silenced, to President Chirac's growing frustration.

Suddenly the leaders were whisked off and had managed to get up two flights of escalators before the British press pack, led by a surprisingly agile Geoffrey Lean, made it out of the room.

The whole thing, Daily Summit thinks, was stage-managed to death…

David Steven | 02:46 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


The British delegation has just completed its daily press briefing. Negotiations were described as protracted, tough and detailed - but the UK seems confident that a result will be achieved sometime soon.

The US gave way on the sanitation target late last night, handing the UK victory on its top priority. It seems certain the UK will declare the summit a success when agreement is finally reached - based in particular on the agreements on fisheries, chemicals and sanitation.

Daily Summit had confidently predicted that the sanitation target would be traded for EU agreement to drop targets on renewable energy. This does not seem to have happened - prompting questions about what the US has got out of this summit.

The UK delegation revealed that text on reproductive health was still under discussion - Daily Summit is trying to track down what the issue is here.

David Steven | 12:41 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


Tony Blair has also focused strongly on climate change in his speech to the conference, as the European attack on US policy continues.

"The whole world must face up to the challenge of climate change," he said. "Kyoto is right and it should be ratified by all of us. Markets must also be opened up to agriculture products from developing countries," he continued.

The British Prime Minister underlined Britain's commitment to poverty reduction, saying that "development for us is a priority - Africa for me is a passion." Speaking of the children he had met on his recent visit to Mozambique, he described their opportunities as stunted by poor health, education, housing and sanitation.

"If Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world, we have a duty to heal it" he concluded.

David Steven | 11:27 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 31, 2002

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."

David Steven | 12:27 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

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!

David Steven | 11:16 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


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.

David Steven | 10:19 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


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…

David Steven | 01:07 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


"Castro, Gaddafi, Mugabe and Blair - there goes the neighbourhood!" a billboard for a South African radio station's coverage of the Summit.

David Steven | 11:04 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 28, 2002

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...

David Steven | 12:36 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 27, 2002

Margaret Beckett, UK environment minister, and head of the UK delegation finished speaking in plenary session a few minutes ago.

Ms Beckett 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.

David Steven | 01:04 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 25, 2002

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.

David Steven | 09:59 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 24, 2002

British NGOs do not come across as summit supporters, but, of course, they are aghast now the opposition Conservative Party is urging Tony Blair to block agreement on parts of the political declaration relating to Africa (see here for that story).

David Steven | 12:21 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 23, 2002

Block summit business on Africa, is today's call from the UK's opposition Conservative Party.

Writing in the Guardian, Michael Ancram, the shadow foreign secretary, says while the summit is "essentially about the need to forestall our planet's destruction by human avarice and neglect," in Zimbabwe "Robert Mugabe and his henchmen" are destroying the environment and "getting away with murder."

"Mugabe is every bit as evil as Milosevic. So why is our government afraid to stand up to this despot?" he asks. "Zimbabwe is not some distant country of which we know little. We know it very well and we owe it our support."

The Tories are furious that Tony Blair will "share a platform" with President Mugabe at the summit on September 2.

Mr Ancram calls on the Prime Minister to make it clear he will not participate in the parts of the agenda relating to Africa or agree any parts of the final communiqué that relate to African development.

"Of course it is upfront and uncomfortable and we will be accused of seeking to divert the summit," he admits. "We all want to see the summit succeed, but it must be on the basis of shared values and not cynical political manoeuvres. If Mugabe is allowed to strut this world stage unhindered, the summit will be corrupted. Britain must have the courage to take the lead."

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

August 21, 2002

The UK Foreign Office's Iain Orr sends an enigmatic piece of advice for those frustrated by slow progress.

"Yaks travel very slowly - about two miles an hour - grazing as they go," wrote Lt-Colonel F M Bailey in the Geographical Magazine in September 1948. "Any attempt to hurry them ends in disaster."

David Steven | 06:37 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


UK Round-Up 8: Futerra has published an online database full of "interesting stories to tell about sustainable development." Surf it and see here.

David Steven | 03:59 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


"Many environmentalists adopt a perspective on international trade and investment that is seen by developing countries as being against their interests. That perspective comes out of a genuine concern for the planet, but leaves out the need for economic growth and investment to improve the lives of the one in five who still live in abject poverty."

"These fears led to demands at Seattle to put inappropriate environmental conditions into world trade rules. If agreed, those demands would have locked developing countries out of the opportunities of growing their economies through trade and caused great anger. Developing countries are fearful that the OECD countries, having plundered and polluted the planet as we developed, are now planning to pull the ladder up behind them by imposing rules and environ mental standards that create enormous barriers to their economic growth."

More from Tech Central Station (see below)?

No, it's Clare Short, UK International Development Minister - who starts twitching whenever a "green" enters the room.

In today's Guardian, she also argues that "the conflict between the interests of people and wildlife is growing," that rich countries must stop undercutting poor farmers, and that renewables are too expensive for developing countries.

Despite all that we should use "the summit to bring the environment and development movements closer together."

David Steven | 11:15 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 20, 2002

"The media coverage of the UK delegation has been ridiculous," Derek Osborn, chair of the Stakeholder Forum tells the Daily Summit.

"When the UK delegation was in Bali, there were complaints from holiday-makers in the hotel we were staying in. They weren't happy with all the people in suits, looking terribly serious and dashing about at all hours. They thought it was spoiling their holiday."

Jane Frewer | 09:14 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 19, 2002

UK Round-Up 7: Ministerial Speeches

Tony Blair, explains how the government plans to "get real" on the environment and claims that Britain hasn't made a bad start on sustainable development. John Prescott overdoses on junketing stories and challenges other nations to send in a heavyweight delegation.

Margaret Beckett, tries to persuade the USA that environment matters to them too, reassures the World Bank that it really is invited to Johannesburg, and hopes to marry the enthusiasm of Rio with a more pragmatic approach in Johannesburg.

Clare Short makes it clear that WSSD isn't about tree-hugging and points out that WSSD will benefit from a lot of good groundwork

Michael Meacher, doesn't want to go on a jamboree but puts a brave face on it, lays out sustainable development theory, and says that all the stakeholders are on board for WSSD.

Peter Hain, sets out the Foreign Office's environmental stall, while Robin Cook believes that plants = money.

David Steven | 09:00 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 18, 2002

Today's most desperate headline, is in the Observer - which goes with "Blair's Earth Summit plea to Bush."

The paper reports that the British PM "believes it is vital that the US President makes an appearance in Johannesburg to avoid derailing the most important environmental talks for a decade."

However, "indications suggest that Bush is almost certain to shun the event."

That's a front page story?

David Steven | 11:14 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


The UK government's green record comes under attack in today's Sunday papers.

The fieriest quotes come from Edward and Zac Goldsmith of the Ecologist magazine (which covers "the dangers of globalisation, the real reasons behind climate change, the threat of corporate power, the risks of GM food, the truth about global cancer").

"On every important issue, the government has either lied or U-turned," says Zac. "On climate change, agriculture, biotechnology, planning, Blair has become the enemy of the greens."

'We have the worst government we have ever had on green issues,' adds Edward.

More here, here and also in the Sunday Times (article seemingly not online).

David Steven | 11:08 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 16, 2002

UK Round-Up 6: Business Initiatives For the past 18 months, Tony Blair has been pushing five business initiatives as part of UK preparation for the summit.

The Sustainable Finance initiative recognises that someone has to pay for sustainable development, with long-term investment desperately needed. Outputs so far: the London Principles and some corporate responsibility guidelines.

The Sustainable Tourism initiative has got most of the UK package holiday industry on board, and plans to develop a worthy (but dull?) "structured communications plan with UK tourists", and is set to establish a "Responsible Tourism Foundation."

Water and Sanitation focuses on providing water to poor people in smaller towns in South Africa, Nigeria and Uganda. The idea is to involve the private sector in "identifying innovative financing arrrangements for water supply and sanitation services directed at the poor."

The Energy initiative should lead to a Global Partnership for Sustainable Energy at WSSD. UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy, meanwhile, is calling for clear targets for introducing cleaner energy, government support for these targets, the removal of subsidies for other forms of energy, and support for developing an international sustainable energy market.

The Forestry initiative, finally, aims to combat illegal logging, ensure public money is only spent on right-on timber, promote forest certification, create a business-led sustainability strategy, build international partnerships on forest restoration, and create a clear government position on forestry for WSSD. This initiative is currently "out to consultation".

More information on the initiatives, at the government's sustainable development site

David Steven | 04:50 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


Members of the British delegation have briefed the media ahead of the summit.

"There is no shortage of agreements and texts," says John Ashton, for the Foreign Office, "but there is not a very good record of turning these into delivery." He believes "there is too much cynicism about multilateralism. The summit must show that it can work.”

Sheila McCabe, at DEFRA, argues that "a cut-down in lifestyle is difficult because no government likes to take such measures." But she believes that developed countries must lead the way in exploring more sustainable consumption patterns. "

Adrian Davis, DFID, focuses on where European development money is spent. ”We believe this aid should be made more effective in its delivery and disbursement, and we are trying to work with the relevant agencies in Brussels to improve that.”

David Steven | 12:29 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 15, 2002

"America more of a global threat than Iraq" - The Times.

As Daily Summit reported, Michael Meacher got into hot water for criticising UK progress on the environment.

The government has now released a transcript of the interview. It makes interesting reading.

Here is a sample exchange:

Interviewer: "America is more of a pariah state than Iraq in terms of potential global damage that they could cause."

Mr Meacher: "I notice you have some very leading questions, well no I am not going to rise to that one, they are totally, totally different situations. America is not a pariah state."

Interviewer: "But nevertheless, it must concern you, their policy."

Read the whole transcript here - it is fascinating how hard a journalist has to work to get a government minister to say what you want him to say.

David Steven | 08:03 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 14, 2002

John Prescott comes out fighting, in an article in the Guardian, clearly riled by the press the government, and the summit, have been getting.

"Sustainable development - economic, social and environmental - is the biggest challenge facing the world in the 21st century," he writes, "and it is at the heart of this government's domestic and international agenda."

According to Prescott, the UK government wants rich countries to "lead by example to achieve more sustainable consumption and production patterns." It also wants global targets for increasing the use of renewable energy, providing poor people with access to water and sanitation, and stemming the loss of biodiversity.

David Steven | 12:15 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 13, 2002

UK Round Up 5: Yesterday, we looked at devolved administrations. Today, UK local government.

93% of UK local authorities had Local Agenda 21 Strategies by December 2000 (see case studies here and here - or download a global survey of Local Agenda 21 here), while a new Local Sustainable Development Unit has just been set up.

The Local Government International Bureau and the Local Government Association Environment and Regeneration Executive will be represented on the UK delegation, promoting a declaration (pdf) that highlights the importance of communities in achieving sustainable development.

The Local Government Information Bureau has a Joburg website here.

David Steven | 10:11 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 12, 2002

The Prime Minister at the World Summit will have "in addition to health, education, crime and transport, the environment and Africa....on his list of priorities." It was also confirmed that he will be there from "2nd to 4th September" according to today's lobby briefing

Jane Frewer | 05:48 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


UK Round-Up 4: Last week, we looked at UK government activity. Today, a brief overview of what the UK's devolved administrations are up to.

Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell will lead a delegation that includes the CEO of Scottish Power, the heads of environment, social justice and international development NGOs, a local authority representative. He is also taking 12 year-old Earth Champion, Stephanie Wiseman with him and together they plan to visit a Scottish school. The Scottish Executive has recently set up a Sustainable Development Forum, which brings together business, unions, public sector, voluntary organisations and the public to explore sustainable development and environmental justice.

Uniquely among EU nations, Wales has sustainable development build into its constitution, measuring its environmental policy through the Welsh Ecological Footprint. In April, the Welsh Assembly and WWF ran Wales and the World in preparation for the summit. What is described as a "small delegation" will be heading to the summit.

The Northern Ireland Executive sees sustainable development as providing common ground for working for a peaceful, prosperous and fair society. In particular, it is working in partnership with community groups on a range of urban and rural development programmes that combine economic, environmental and social goals. The first minister will lead Ireland's delegation.

David Steven | 10:21 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


Getting better? Getting worse? Part 4. In the UK, things are getting better - at least according to the government's sustainable development indicators.

Since 1990, one economic indicator (economic output) has improved, while two (employment and investment) remain unchanged.

Of the social indicators, poverty, health and housing have stayed the same. Education has improved and non-violent crime decreased. But violent crime is on the up.

For the environment, the news is good on climate change, air quality and river water quality; bad on farmland birds and waste; and neutral on road traffic and land use.

So that's six indicators improving, three deteriorating, and seven unchanged.

David Steven | 10:02 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


The New Statesman has a forthright perspective on the ongoing Meacher hoohah.

"To those who work closely with him," it editorializes, "Tony Blair has made no secret of being thoroughly bored with environment issues. He is unconvinced that human activity can exert an irreversible, negative effect on the earth's climate... and he is irriated by those whom he considers to be evangelistic, sandal-wearing purists. Technological advance and men and women of goodwill willsave the planet - not the green lobby....

"But there is an important point at which Mr Meacher and Mr Blair make contact, and that is in their ambitions for the world's poorest people. Both believe that poverty, particularly in Africa, is a scourge on the civilised world. Both believe that access to clean drinking water and non-polluting energy are among the continent's urgent priorities."

More here (paid subscription only).

David Steven | 09:58 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 11, 2002

And now it's a ministerial spat, with International Development secretary, Clare Short, hitting back at her colleague, Michael Meacher.

"This isn't an environmental summit. It's a summit about sustainable development," she told the BBC, in reponse to Meacher's criticism of the government's green credentials. "The biggest challenge to the world is to guarantee to the poor of the world development in a planet that we keep sustainable."

David Steven | 07:47 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


Michael Meacher hits the headlines here in the UK once again - with a Sunday Times interview (subscription needed) that has now been picked up by television and radio.

Last week saw a rumpus about whether the Minister would be going to Joburg, now he says he is determined to push the government into accepting a green agenda.

"There are areas where I am a force in the government to push policy in a different direction, particularly on the environment," he told the paper. "I make no bones about it. I don't think the government as a whole is yet ready to take the magnitude of the decisions I think are necessary."

The Sunday Times reckons that events of the last week have made Meacher's position in the government "even stronger." Surely, this is wishful thinking. The Daily Summit expects the summit to be Michael's swansong.

David Steven | 11:51 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 10, 2002

Rowenna Davis is 17. A couple of weeks ago, she arranged for ten thousand posters to be plastered around London in order to raise environmental awareness in advance of the earth summit.

Printing alone cost over £1500 - money she raised through tutoring, babysitting, by drinking tap water in pubs and shopping in car boot sales.

"Globalisation has been responsible for a deterioration in many people's quality of life," Rowenna believes, "yet I believe it has the potential to be incredibly beneficial to everyone if harnessed in the correct way."

She has the following advice (word doc) for Margaret Beckett: "I will be attending the Children’s Earth Summit in Johannesburg. On my way to it I shall be thinking of the one billion people in the world starving, the one quarter of people without water and the number of people who will die of aids while delegates tell the world that they cannot afford to help it. I suggest you do the same."

David Steven | 03:05 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 9, 2002

Sir Robert May, former UK Chief Scientist and now in charge at the Royal Society, was on typically boisterous form at a recent student-led conference in Oxford.

"We don't know the answer to many of the questions we ask," he says "Anyone who tells you how many species went extinct last year is just a fool, they don't know what they're talking about. We don’t how many species there are, so we clearly don't know how many went extinct last year."

"Even if we all know all the facts completely, that's all science does," he continues. "It paints map of what are the choices. It doesn’t tell us whether we ought to be worried about them. Those come from our beliefs and values. Science is there to constrain the discourse, to make sure it is not taking place in cloud-cuckoo land, beyond that it leaves it up to democratic processes in open societies."

Great stuff - and if you've got the bandwidth, you can listen to the whole thing (and 30 other talks) here...

David Steven | 03:41 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


Updates, more detail on DFID and FCO input to the summit - and Dr Morgan Williams, New Zealand's Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, doesn't support lower growth and higher taxes...

David Steven | 12:54 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 8, 2002

UK Round-Up 3: Yesterday, we briefly outlined what the UK government hopes to get out of the summit - and who does what (including all the acronyms). Today: more on national government preparation...

DEFRA runs the government's sustainable development website, which has been hosting discussions about the summit (one "what does sustainable development mean to you?" is still open). The site will be updated in the next week or so – as they add details of what UK organisations are doing for the summit. Next week, they're running an event for the UK media to meet delegates before they head for Joburg. DEFRA is also about to start distributing a glossy to the UK public on what the summit is and why it's important.

DFID has produced a special edition of Developments magazine and is sponsoring three side events: Negotiating Social Sustainability, Sustainable Agriculture and a panel on poverty and environment (all on 3rd September). It is also putting up the money for the Knowledge Pool at the Water Dome, which promotes the work of a network of organisations which share information on water management (here's their press picture).

In the run-up to the summit, the FCO has been promoting work on environmental democracy (with the British Council) and will be publishing a report at the summit. It's also been supporting sustainable development projects around the world through its project fund, with ongoing projects in Slovenia, Ukraine, Colombia and Kosovo. Daily Summit notes that the head of its environment policy department, John Ashton, will be speaking at a LEAD International side event on practical ways for improving capacity for sustainable development.

Coming next: business, NGO and local government…

David Steven | 04:15 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


With his ticket now safely booked, Michael Meacher writes about the summit for the Independent.

As a green minister, he calls it the "earth summit" and focuses almost exclusively on climate change. "Entire ecosystems, or compoenents within them, may already be near their tolerance thresholds for key climate variables," he writes. "Science is telling us to expect large change."

The minister tell us about an Inuit woman he met on a recent trip to the Artic. "The environment is our supermarket," she told him. "You go to the supermarket for food. We go out on the land to hunt, fish, trap and gather. Imagine for a moment the emotions we now feel – shock, panic, rage, grief – as we discover the food, which for generations has nourished us and keeps whole physically and spiritually, is now poisoning us."

David Steven | 11:44 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 7, 2002

UK Round-Up 2: Government position. The second instalment in our series on activity in the UK.

The Department for Environment, Rural Affairs and the Regions (DEFRA) “leads” on the summit – with the Foreign Office (FCO), the Department for International Development (DFID), the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), the Treasury, the Cabinet Office, the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU), and No 10 all chipping in.

Main idea: globalisation can work for poor people.

Essential reading: the globalisation white paper (discussed here).

Ambition: for the World Summit, the Doha Trade Talks, and the Monterrey Financing for Development Conference to lead to a global coalition to tackle international problems – and ensure the UN Millennium Development Goals are met.

Coming next: we’ll try to unpick what each bit of the UK government is actually doing for the summit…

David Steven | 01:59 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


Predictably enough, the junketing story refuses to die, though it takes a new twist in today's papers.

Yesterday, we were told that Michael Meacher has been banned from going to the summit. Today, however, the Independent says says he is fighting back. The Scottish and Welsh first ministers are also reported to be fighting for their place on the plane.

Perhaps it has all been part of a cunning plan. The opposition parties are now all arguing that the British delegation risks being too small, rather than too big.

The Guardian says that Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, the RSPB, WaterAid and other major charities have even offered to pay for the environment minister's air fare.

"It's like leaving David Beckham out of your football team. Why leave a key player on the bench?" was Oxfam's response.

David Steven | 07:57 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 6, 2002

Junket Update - I don't think other countries are getting so het up about the size of their delegations, but in the UK, it's still the only game in town.

Today, the Guardian weighs in claiming that Alistair Campbell, the Prime Minister's spin doctor, now has his sights set on environment minister, Michael Meacher.

According to the paper, John Prescott, deputy prime minister, is insisting he be allowed to go. Development minister, Clare Short, meanwhile, is keen to stay home, but Tony Blair is insisting she attend.

The paper regards the loss of Meacher as a major blow. "He is," the paper claims, "the only minister credited with understanding all the issues to be discussed."

It seems that the attendance of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish first ministers is still uncertain, while 30 government officials have had to hand back their tickets!

David Steven | 09:53 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 5, 2002

UK Round-Up 1: Before it sets sail for Joburg, Daily Summit is coming to you from a small town on the south coast of England.

So over the next week, we'll be ringing round and trying to put together a picture of what the UK is doing for the summit.

As an appetiser, let us introduce you to the only Green in the Scottish parliament. Robin Harper.

Disappointed at slow progress on sustainable development in Scotland and the UK, Robin tells the BBC he will be travelling to Joburg to "represent the 85,000 Scots who voted Green at the last election and to keep a beady eye on the executive delegation."

David Steven | 05:31 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 3, 2002

The difference a day makes Yesterday, as reported here and here, the Daily Telegraph was speculating that UK deputy prime minister, John Prescott would not be allowed to go to the summit.

Today, the paper reports that Prescott will indeed be attending. Straightfaced, it blames Downing Street for the confusion - and is silent about its speculation from only a day earlier!

Update: "It looks like Two Jags has put his foot down," says Tory chairman David Davis in The Sun. "But taxpayers should be concerned by this obsession with sending vast numbers of ministers and officials to lavish conferences."

David Steven | 10:40 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 2, 2002

Junket Update As we report today, the Telegraph is suggesting that Blair plans to stop Messrs Prescott, Trimble, McConnell and Morgan travelling to the summit.

The Daily Summit has discovered that sources close to Trimble are bemused by the reports. So is the report off the mark? Or are the first ministers the last to be informed?

Update: Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland have greeted the speculation about Trimble with "dismay"...

David Steven | 01:04 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


Junket Watch II Last week, The Daily Summit reported on British government sensitivities about the size of the delegation it is sending to the summit.

Today, The Daily Telegraph tries to keep the story moving. As even John Prescott is the easiest target. He may become a victim of Tony Blair's desire to streamline the British delegation, the paper reports.

According to the Telegraph, Rhodri Morgan, Welsh First Minister, Jack McConnell, Scottish First Minister, and David Trimble, Northern Irish First Minister, are also threatened with exclusion.

The paper quotes an unnamed 'summit insider' as asking: "There are only four chairs allocated for each country in the main debating chamber in the convention centre, so where would they all sit?"

It also reveals that ministers will be staying in the plush Michelangelo Hotel - though most of the rest of the delegation will be in a £50 a night hotel.

Intriguingly, the paper claims that Tony Blair will probably not even spend the night in South Africa, suggesting he will fly in for a photo opportunity and then head for home. Given that the PM has been pushing WSSD fairly hard, the Daily Summit predicts a longer visit...

David Steven | 10:25 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

July 29, 2002

Porrit pours scorn Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, pours scorn on the summit process, claiming that politicians are willfully ignoring hard scientific evidence that we are running out of planet. "What we have is ideology-based policy," he says, "with science deployed in a partisan and self-interested way to justify political expedience." The draft summit text, meanwhile, is "anaemic and duplicitous."

Porrit's solution?

First, rid markets of "perverse" farming subsidies. Second, make polluters pay. Third, allow poor countries to drive the development agenda. Fourth, slow population growth. Fifth, rein in capitalism.

However, these steps would "demand a quality of political leadership that earth scientists and green activists currently can only dream about."

David Steven | 08:15 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

July 25, 2002

Clare Short's financial times UK Development Secretary, Clare Short, tells the FT today that "you have to change the whole mindset on aid away from the idea that it is a little charitable pot of handouts to the poor after you've done your mainstream foreign and trade policy."

As she prepares to leave for the summit, her focus is on ensuring her department is a leading player in the international system and working for peace in Africa. She thinks it "noble to care for the poor of the world," enjoying the opportunity to "legitimately poke around in all parts of the international system."

David Steven | 12:13 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

July 23, 2002

Junket-Watch The World Summit is getting close (official kick off is 26 August – though the word is it’ll start a few days early) and the British press is getting interested.

First up: the junket story. This ran in May at the Bali warm-up meeting when John Prescott, British Deputy PM, dismissed it as “an indication of how press prattle tends to dominate an awful lot of matters of substance.”

Returning to the attack, The Sunday Times reports (subscription needed) that the British will fly at least eight ministers and more than 100 aides to the summit, estimating the cost at £600,000. “The delegation will stay in five star hotels,” it reports, “with its most senior members being ferried the few hundred yards to the conference halls in air-conditioned limousines.” In the Sun, Richard Littlejohn is even blunter, claiming that, while the summit will end in failure, “60,000 so-called public servants will have enjoyed a luxurious free vacation in the sun, while salving what consciences they have by posing as friends of the earth.”

Back in May, however, the Independent’s Geoffrey Lean was dismissive of junket stories from “a trade not noted for its eagerness to spurn freebies.” The real story, he said, were frantic efforts at work for South African President, Thabo Mbeki, to “save the summit.” He sees the summit as a key part of Government efforts to counter terrorism by “launching the most concerted drive against Third World poverty in decades” and predicts that Prescott, who has spent the last few years building an international network of political contacts, could emerge as a key broker.

David Steven | 07:17 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |


 

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