Highlights from the WSSD

BrazilSummit Logo Final
On August 22, before the start of the Summit, Brazil’s President Fernando Henrique Cardoso announced the country would create the largest rainforest national park in the world. Covering 9.4 million acres of the northern Amazon along Brazil’s boundary with French Guyana, the Tumucumaque Mountains National Park shelters rare jaguars, harpy eagles and 12 percent of all primates known to exist in the entire Brazilian Amazon. The park will be the world’s largest tropical reserve – the same size as Belgium.

During the Summit, Brazil announced the largest-ever tropical forest conservation plan, protecting 12 percent of the Amazon. The World Wide Fund for Nature, the World Bank and the Global Environmental Facility will contribute much of the $395 million needed to gradually set aside land, reaching an area the size of Spain in 10 years.

Under this plan, 194,000 square miles (500,000 square km) out of the Amazon’s total area of 1.54 million square miles (4.1 million square km) will be federally protected as national parks or biological reserves, meaning they cannot be touched. Tumucumaque Mountains National Park is part of this plan.

Brazil is one of the signatories ratifying the Kyoto climate protocol.

Summit Action Plan
Negotiators for 191 countries agreed to the 71 page Summit Plan of Action, intended to set the world’s environmental agenda for the next 10 years. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the world must face an “uncomfortable truth” and resolve to make positive changes. “The model of development we are accustomed to has been fruitful for the few, but flawed for the many,” he said. “A path to prosperity that ravages the environment and leaves a majority of humankind behind in squalor will soon prove to be a dead-end road for everyone.”

The greatest disappointment is the missed opportunity to create a concrete target for the marketshare of renewable energy worldwide. While the European Union pushed for a target of 15 percent of global energy coming from renewable sources by 2015, the U.S. and oil producing nations were too strong of an opposing force. The U.S. maintained the targets were unrealistic and arbitrary.

Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai said, “The issue of a target for renewable energy is a worthwhile goal, but the reality is that with sustained action, we can build up renewable energy industries to the point where they have the critical mass to compete with fossil fuel generated energy. We have a commitment to make it happen, and now we need the follow through.”

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a global network of 10 sustainable energy centers, The Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development. It is charged with promoting research, transfer and adoption of renewable technologies in the developing world.

The Kyoto Protocol on climate change is assured of entry into force, even without U.S. participation. Canada, Russia and China all announced they will ratify the international agreement.

The UK commitment to increase its development aid to Africa to 1 billion a year by 2006 and to double its overall assistance to all countries.

According to “e-mission 55 – a business for climate campaign“, Paul Metz, speaker of the joint business-NGO initiative in favor of the Kyoto Protocol, says: “The best news with regard to climate change from the summit is not found in the summit’s action plan, but in single speeches and side events.” Metz welcomed German chancellor Schroeder’s speech urging countries to ratify Kyoto, China’s ratification decision, and Russia’s outspoken commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. “The official action plan concerning renewable energies and climate change, however, is rather disappointing”, Metz said.

Another side event watched by e-mission 55 with interest was the common declaration by a further business-NGO partnership, Greenpeace and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The two organizations called for an international political framework to combat climate change. “This is what e-mission 55, its founding organizations and signatory companies have been demanding since its inception”, Metz said. The campaign “e-mission 55 – business for climate” was founded in early 2001 by the European Business Council for a Sustainable Energy Future (e5), WWF and Germanwatch. It has nearly 200 signatories from around the world.

The Sierra Club’s vote for the most remarkable product of the Summit is the degree to which other world leaders are willing to reject the Bush administration climate policy. The NGO believes this backward, out-of-touch policy will harm U.S. businesses. The group believes that the Bush administration’s refusal to “adequately” address climate change will harm U.S. businesses.

“The Bush administration worked furiously to remove renewable energy targets and timetables from the final plan of action,” says Stephen Mills, director of the Sierra Club’s international program. “But in effect what they have done is to insure that American business will follow, not lead the rest of the world.”

Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced Canada would double the size of its national park system, creating 10 new national parks and five marine conservation areas. Canada’s current 39 national parks cover an area close to the size of Britain – 225,000 square kilometres (87,000 square miles). The proposed additional parkland increase the total by 100,000 square kilometres.

Stephen Hazell, director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, called it the most significant announcement for Canadian wilderness and wildlife in decades. He cautioned, however, that funding has yet to be. The marine aspect is considered to be an important new conservation priority.

And Chretien pledged to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by year-end.

Key Points in Summit Agreement:
Agreed to:

Water/ Sanitation:
Halve the proportion of people without access to proper sanitation by 2015, a goal the U.S. resisted. Halve the proportion of people without access to clean drinking water by 2015.

* $970 million from the U.S. for investments over the next three years on water and sanitation projects.
* “Water for Life” initiative – EU will engage partners primarily in Africa and Central Asia to meet these goals.
* The Asia Development Bank provided a $5 million grant to UN Habitat and $500 million in fast-track credit for the Water for Asian Cities Programme.
* 21 other water and sanitation initiatives adding up to $20 million in commitments.

Energy: Increase access to affordable energy. Increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. No timetable or specific targets set. Phase out, where appropriate, energy subsidies. EU wanted targets, the U.S. and oil producing countries refused to budge.

* The nine major electricity companies of the E7 signed varioius agreements with the UN to facilitate technical cooperation for sustainable energy projects in developing countries.
* The EU announced a $700 million partnership initiative; the U.S. said it would spend up to $43 million in 2003.
* Eskom, the South African energy utility, announced a partnership to extend modern energy services to neighboring countries.
* 32 partnerships covering $26 million were also announced.

Health: Chemicals will be manufactured and used in ways that minimize harm to humans and the environment by 2020. Will promote sound management
of hazardous waste. Enhance cooperation to reduce air pollution. Improve developing countries’ access to environmentally sound alternatives to ozone depleting chemicals by 2010.Patents should not prevent poor countries from providing medicines for all.

* U.S. will spend $2.3 billion through 2003 on health, some of which was earmarked earlier for the Global Fund.
* 16 partnership submissions for health projects with $3 million in resources.

Agriculture: The Global Environmental Facility will consider including the Convention to Combat Desertification as a focal area for funding.
Food security strategies for Africa will be developed by 2005.

* The U.S. will invest $90 million in 2003 for sustainable agriculture programs.
* 17 partnerships totalling $2 million in resources.

Aid: Substantial increases in aid are needed for developing countries. Rich countries are asked to give 0.7 percent of national income, a target first set in 1970. Only five countries have reached that level.

Trade: Bolsters trade and environment without saying that World Trade Organization rules override global environmental treaties. Seen as victory for environmental groups who feared deals such Kyoto Protocol could be undermined. Wealthy countries reaffirmed will to lower trade-distorting subsidies.

Biological Diversity: By 2010, the rate of species extinction will be cut significantly. Reverse the current trend in natural resource degradation. Restore fisheries to their maximum sustainable yields by 2015. Establish a representative network of marine protected areas by 2012. By 2004, implement the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Sources of Pollution.

* 32 partnerships initiatiated with $100 million in resources.
* The U.S. announced $53 million for forests in 2002-2005.

Governance: Recognize that good governance is essential for sustainable development.

Poverty: Establish a voluntary fund to wipe out poverty.

Precautionary Approach: Reaffirmed principle that the environment must be protected even if evidence of the harmfulness of a particular action/product is not conclusively negative.

Common But Differentiated Responsibility: Reaffirmed that all nations are responsible for environmental protection, rich countries will shoulder more of the financial burden.

Cross-Cutting Issues: Opening access to markets is a key to development for many countries. Establish a 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production. Actively promote corporate responsibility and accountability. Implementation of the above commitments will begin by 2005.

FACTBOX – Earth Summit deal on water and sanitation

FACTBOX – Biodiversity and fish deals at the Earth Summit

FACTBOX – Key points agreed at Earth Summit talks

ANALYSIS – Earth Summit won’t save planet, but might help


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