14th March 2002
Professor Emil Salim
Comments on Chairman´s Paper, version 8th Februray, 10.45 am
Berlin, Amsterdam, 14.3. 2002
Dear Professor Salim,
Friends of the Earth International is the largest federation of environmental groups
worldwide. We represent more than 1 million people in 66 membership organisations in
South and North. Friends of the Earth International has made the World Summit on
Sustainable Development one of its priority campaigns. It is with pleasure that we submit
our comments on your Chairman Paper which concluded the last preparatory meeting in New
We welcome the broad scope of your paper and the willingness by governments to address
the most pressing issues of our time, such as economic globalisation, corporate
accountability and unsustainable production and consumption patterns, especially in
However, we are concerned that governments seem to be giving the wrong answers to the
right questions and seem unwilling to commit to the necessary targets and timetables to
achieve meaningful change.
Since Rio, a massive failure of implementation has been evident and the ecological debt
by the Global North to the Global South has increased. The root causes of this are a neo-
liberal trade agenda pursued at the WTO which fails to support sustainable development
and the assumption that corporations are helping deliver sustainable development when
they are not. Unless these matters are tackled through global rules of corporate
accountability and the establishment of sustainable development objectives above those of
trade liberalisation, the “Implementation Summit” at Johannesburg will not meet its
Despite some positive ideas in some areas, we do not yet see the Chairman´s paper as
successfully addressing these fundamental issues and concerns. The Paper and many
governments argue that the WTO negotiation agenda as set out in Doha ensures that global
trade will serve sustainable development. Consequently, we fear that the WSSD’s agenda is
being hijacked by those wishing to promote the WTO’s trade agenda. Yet there are serious
potential social and environmental consequences of the new liberalisation agenda (see
below). Friends of the Earth International calls on the WSSD to clearly establish the
principle that Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) always take precedence over
We welcome the Chairman´s inclusion of the issue of corporate accountability at various
parts in the paper. However, we are disappointed that unlike in the ´List of Issues´
that you distributed at the end of week one of PrepComm II, there is no clear commitment
to a binding global mechanism in your paper. Friends of the Earth International is
looking to Governments to recognise the need for global rules for transnationals and to
start a negotiation process for a binding agreement on corporate accountability at
Johannesburg. As you are aware there was almost unanimous support for this endeavour by
other stakeholders at PrepComm II and the issue was also raised and supported by a number
of governments such and representatives of the G77 group. It would be a real failure by
governments if they did not respond to the widespread global concern over irresponsible
corporate behaviour. As we pointed out at the Multistakeholder Dialogue at PrepComm II,
voluntary initiatives such as the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises and the
Global Compact are not sufficient to achieve responsible corporate behaviour worldwide.
Nor should they be represented as an alternative to regulation as codes, compacts and
self-regulation perform a totally different function.. We therefore count on your´s and
the Bureau´s support to further the agenda of binding corporate accountability at the
There is no clear definition of what is meant by the term sustainable development in the
paper. The text simply refers back to the results of the UN Conference on Environment and
Development held in 1992, even though commentators on the UNCED summit agreed, that the
concept of sustainable development was not clearly defined there. WSSD is the first UN
summit specifically on sustainable development. It would thus be the right place to
define the real meaning of sustainable development further, as Friends of the Earth
International has done through developing the tools of ecological debt and environmental
space (1). The lack of clarity on the definition of sustainable development becomes all
the more worrying in view of the introduction, which focuses on economic growth, poverty
eradication and employment creation. Whilst these issues are important in their own
right, it is not at all clear why the sustainable and equitable use of natural
resources – a key concern which is reflected in the main body of the paper – is
virtually ignored in the introduction. However, given the paper’s subsequent proposals on
globalisation and its failure to address concerns voiced about trade liberalisation, one
can only conclude that this shift in focus must be deliberate. If so, Friends of the
Earth International wants to register its strong opposition to any redefinition of
sustainable development as purely concerned with economic growth in particular.
In this context we also believe that the paper fails to analyse the real causes of
impoverishment in the developing world, and therefore at times suggests business as
usual economic growth as a simplistic answer to this challenge. We are also worried that
the passages on indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights and biodiversity
are in their current form too weak. We propose to change the wording on Indigenous
Peoples from the current “indigenous communities” to Indigenous Peoples.
Friends of the Earth International hopes that the “Type 2 outcomes” that you have
proposed for the Summit will result in many concrete initiatives addressing the root
causes of unsustainable development. We especially support initiatives agreed between a
number of countries. However, Friends of the Earth International is very concerned that
“Type 2” agreements may be the start of the “privatisation of implementation”, to
which we are entirely opposed. UN processes must be about governments fulfilling their
global responsibility by agreeing necessary and far reaching agreements. These processes
must be transparent and open and therefore include stakeholders as the Commission for
Sustainable Development in particular has thankfully tried to do over the last decade.
But the responsibility of agreeing and delivering on global social and environmental
rules must remain with governments. The UN should not become a market place for
individual initiatives put forward by self-interested entities such as business.
We are also concerned that “Type 2” outcomes could take the pressure of governments to
achieve positive “Type 1” results. Some governments are suggesting that the high number
of “Type 2” initiatives will distract public attention from the meagre “Type 1”
results which are all they want to see the Summit deliver. Friends of the Earth
International objects strongly to such tactics and without a robust “Type 1” outcomes,
will find it difficult to support the idea of Type 2 initiatives. In any case, Friends of
the Earth International will judge the results of Johannesburg by the quality of the
“Type 1” agreements.
As an appendix we have added specific comments and textual suggestions on various
paragraphs in your paper, focussing on corporate accountability, trade, climate, water,
biodiversity and fisheries in turn.
We thank you for your attention and look forward to working with you on making the
Johannesburg Summit a success.
WSSD Coordinator, FoEI
 You can find further details on ecological debt at
http://www.foei.org/ecodebt/index.html and on FoEI´s concept of environmental Space in
Sachs (Ed.), Greening the North, Earthscan, 2000.
Appendix: Comments on specific paragraphs and issue areas.
We generally support this sentiment. However we believe it is confusing as to the nature
of the measures and policies referred to. Specifically we believe it should refer to
policies and measures in general, not just ‘technological and educational policies’. We
also feel measures can enhance corporate responsibility as a voluntary process, but must
secure binding accountability. We believe this paragraph should link with a further
paragraph concerning the role of corporations and corporate accountability generally.
We would therefore propose:
1 deleting “via technological and educational policies”;
2 adding “securing binding” before accountability under e).
We believe this paragraph presents problems as ISO 14000 would not be considered by many
to be certification. Some governments have indicated they wish to promote an array of
voluntary industry initiatives. FoEI believes these can not be presented as an
alternative to necessary measures securing binding corporate accountability. However, if
voluntary initiatives are to be promoted in any way, this needs to be captured in one
place separate from any discussion of binding accountability rules.
FoEI supports this paragraph in general terms. However we believe it is short of specific
proposals. Specifically we would like to see an acknowledgement by developed countries of
the need to develop domestic legislation to criminalise sale of illegally-sourced wood
fibre material. We would also like to see a commitment to a robust international
framework for chain-of-custody. We would further like to see the Summit affirm the role
of the CBD in working to eliminate illegal logging.
FoEI believes this paragraph inadequately addresses the concerns of major groups clearly
expressed at Prepcom 2 and misses the need to ensure a meaningful debate about corporate
accountability. Firstly we believe governments should seek to make a commitment to
launching a negotiation on corporate accountability issues. The paragraph should
therefore characterise the problem governments can identify then it should present a
concrete proposal for action. Secondly we believe the mention of the GRI is welcome, but
that support for voluntary initiatives and promotion of corporate social responsibility
should be captured in one section where the issue can be more coherently expressed.
We therefore propose the paragraph should say instead:
“Address the imbalance between the rights of transnational corporations and their
responsibilities by initiating negotiations on a treaty to secure binding corporate
accountability specifically addressing rights for citizens, duties for corporations and
standards of behaviour.”
We believe this paragraph does little to build confidence that the Summit will address
the crucial role of corporate accountability. Throughout the present text there are only
references to voluntary action. Voluntary initiatives are not unwelcome, but they are
simply not an alternative to fair forms of regulation that address public concerns. FoEI
believes corporations have secured many rights in the course of recent years through the
process of opening up markets. It is time for those rights to be balanced with sensible
rules around their responsibilities. The G77 rightly characterised the Global Compact as
just a set of principles at Prepcom 2. We believe the Summit should address concrete
actions with real outcomes and not just encourage some progressive companies to take up
responsibilities that many believe they should automatically have to do anyway. Textual
suggestion can be found in the matrix at the end of the text.
Globalisation and Trade
Further textual proposals are appended at the end of this Appendix in a graph.
Startlingly, the potential impact of economic globalisation on wider society,
sustainability and the environment goes virtually unremarked in your whole Paper. There
is no mention of key issues that one would expect to be considered. Unsustainable rates
of resource use as a result of increasing international trade, the volatility of
international capital, the status of multilateral environmental agreements, impacts on
domestic environmental and health regulation, inequitable and untransparent multilateral
processes, the impact of trade rules and negotiations on key sectors such as agriculture
and energy and water services – all these pass unremarked upon in this section.
These omissions are significant, in view of the potential impact that trade
liberalisation could have on social cohesion and the world’s natural resource base. To
quote the European Commission, for example: “Globalisation involves costs as well as
benefits. Increased global economic activity can result in negative pressures on the
environment and in risks for social cohesion if it goes uncontrolled. … Technological
progress, market integration and international competition tend to bring about structural
changes in the economy and the fabric of society.”
Foreign direct investment merits three paragraphs in your paper on the basis that FDI
will resource infrastructure development (Para. 108); reduce social, economic, and
environmental inequalities between countries (Para. 108); and promote sustainable
development (Para. 109). But there is no recognition of any negative impacts. The fact
that investment flows tend to be unequal and to flow to those least in need is not
Certain statements made in relation to FDI engender additional cause for concern. For
example, encouraging institutions to “increase their support for private foreign
investment in infrastructure development and other priority areas” (Para. 108) could be
interpreted extremely broadly, giving rise to further projects preventing rather than
promoting sustainability (hydroelectric dams in populated and/or environmentally or
politically sensitive areas, for example). The phrase “provide government incentives for
private sector in developed countries to increase the flow of FDI to developing
countries” is equally ambiguous. What kind of incentives are envisaged? What types of
FDI will be promoted as a result?
There are passing references in other parts of your paper to trade-related issues, but
these, too, do not inspire confidence. These include, for example, the need for voluntary
certification initiatives (Para. 25), voluntary and non-disctriminatory eco-labelling
(Para. 26) and “support for capacity building to developing countries in dealing with the
challenges and opportunities of genetically modified organisms” (Para. 91). Most of these
references imply that trade rules should be given a higher priority than other social and
Overall, your paper, Mr. Chairman, suggests to us that governments appear to be ignoring
civil society’s concerns about the trade liberalisation process. Instead, the World
Summit on Sustainable Development is being used as a vehicle to promote trade and
investment liberalisation as a solution to sustainable development. (Indeed, some
governments, such as the United States, now refer to ‘mainstreaming trade into
sustainable development’.) In short, Governments are pushing ahead with an agenda that
suits the already wealthy very well, pays lip service to the needs of developing
countries but contains no guarantees and – in our view – is most unlikely to deliver on
those aspects of sustainability that really matter to the poor, the environment or future
The only quantifiable recommendation on energy in your paper is that at least 5 % of
total energy use by 2010 in all countries should be from renewable sources (Para. 30).
As far as we are concerned, any renewable energy target in industrialised countries must
be of at least 12% of energy use by 2010 (the current EU target) in order to represent a
significant change from business as usual. Targets in developing countries must be
supported by adequate funding.
We miss the in our view equally important targets for energy efficiency but welcome the
suggestion in the Chairman´s paper that a four fold increase in energy efficiency by
2012 is necessary. We also oppose the suggestion in the Chairman´s paper that “clean”
fossil fuel sources are part of the needed transition in the energy field.
2. Access to energy
We consider the target that 1 billion people currently without access to modern energy
services should be served by 2015 to be utterly insufficient considering that two billion
are currently in need (Para. ?) . We also ask you to clarify how this target relates to
the proposed global initiative to provide Africa with access to diversified and
affordable sources of energy by 2005.
3. Means of implementation
Your paper gives capacity building and technology transfer no more than a few
passing references in the energy context and reaffirms the need for assistance to
developing countries under the FCCC and the Kyoto Protocol (Para. 63, 68, 69). This, in
our view, is totally inadequate.
As you are aware, Jose Goldemberg, chairman of the GEF Roundtable on Sustainable Energy,
made a speech to PrepComm 2 highlighting the need for improved financing of renewables,
including more micro-credit, patient capital and risk mitigation, as well as the
reorientation of international financial institutions and export credit agencies. The
Roundtable also called on energy market reformers to integrate the establishment of
institutional, regulatory and subsidy frameworks that promote renewable energy and access
to energy. Friends of the Earth International supports these initiatives.
Your paper calls only vaguely for the eradication of “harmful subsidies” in the energy
sector (Para. 32). Without a target and timetable attached, there is little hope that
this goal will be achieved. Friends of the Earth International expect Johannesburg to
deliver clear targets and timetables on ending perverse subsidies in the energy sector.
Friends of the Earth International wants to emphasise the need for a drastic
reorientation of IFI financing in the energy sector, away from fossil fuel (and nuclear)
projects, towards the promotion of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. The
Chairman´s text should call upon all IFIs –including export credit agencies- to
declare a moratorium on financing fossil fuel extraction projects and urge them to
devise a strategy for this major shift in their lending operations to be accomplished
within five years.
Friends of the Earth International opposes the privatisation of water resources and
expects the sections on equitable access to water resources to reflect this.
The Chairman´s paper mentions ecosystems as a basis of livelihoods but does not stress
the key importance in this regard of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) itself. We urge
Governments to integrate the results of COP 6 of the CBD into the final outcome of the
WSSD between PrepComm III and IV.
We propose to add “seeds” after land and water.
Friends of the Earth International opposes the development of genetically modified
organisms, especially in the agricultural field. Paragraph 91 should therefore offer
capacity building to developing countries for “dealing with biosafety” rather than with
“the challenges and opportunities of genetically modified foods”.
We oppose the promotion of biotechnologies in developing countries.
These paragraphs ignore that in our view there are hardly any sustainable fisheries
anywhere. As the paragraph implies, there is massive over-capacity in terms of fishing
fleets, and huge subsidies from a wide range of countries that support that over-
capacity. We need clear targets and timetables to end this situation to be included in
these paragraphs. These paragraphs should further address the serious under-enforcement
of existing fisheries laws and rules, whether domestic or international.
We ask the Chairman to note that according to our information there are out-of-control
pirate fisheries in the Southern Ocean worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year,
which not only are decimating the main fishery (Patagonian toothfish) but directly
killing up to perhaps 100,000 majestic albatross and petrels every year. Friends of the
Earth International thus asks you to support the ASOC demand to establish a global
moratorium on ALL toothfish fishing in the Southern Ocean.