Conseil oecuménique des Églises -
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Pour publication immédiate:
4 septembre 2002
The Johannesburg plan of implementation doesn't hold water
cf WCC Press Release, PR-02-22, of 22 August 2002-09-04
cf WCC Press Update, Up-02-26, of 2 September
cf WCC Press Update, Up-02-27, of 3 September
New global relationships: that was the promise of "Agenda 21", adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In Johannesburg ten years later, this promise was unfulfilled. That is the assessment of an Ecumenical Team attending the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which ended today, 4 September.
The Team's perception was that the fine words pronounced by heads of state during the WSSD plenary sessions are not reflected in the Johannesburg "Plan of Implementation". "Despite the world leaders' fine rhetoric and calls for action, the Plan is appalling," says Rev. Dr Martin Robra of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Justice, Peace and Creation Team.
Meeting in Geneva at the same time, the WCC Central Committee urged member churches to advocate with their governments and the UN for
- "restoration and repair of damages caused by the exploitation of Third-World resources and of the environment",
- development of "a binding convention for corporate accountability",
- signature of the Kyoto Protocol, and the opening of a new round of negotiations for even stronger regulations.
The Committee recommended that the member churches themselves "quantify their participation in fair trade movements and their contribution to the environment".
On the WSSD final document, WCC representative to the United Nations in New York, Gail Lerner, underlined that "There are hardly any time-frames or targets. It does state the need for responsibility of global corporations, but it does not include any mechanisms on how to hold the companies accountable. Clear targets for a shift to renewable energy sources in the energy section of the document were deleted. It is obvious: there is a superpower pushing the corporate agenda."
Paragraph 47 of the document concerning women's rights was a crucial point until the last day. Ecumenical Team members joined a Women's Caucus in a demonstration to express their concerns and urge the negotiators to change the wording of this article.
The Summit's political declaration was also a frustration, not only for NGOs but also for governmental delegates. The first draft of the "Johannesburg Commitment on Sustainable Development" was issued on 2 September, just three days before the summit's end. Its length - it is a nine-page document - left hardly any room for discussions and negotiations.
The WSSD slogan was "People, planet and prosperity". The Ecumenical Team sees prosperity - for a few - as the only winner of the negotiations, with people and planet losing out. Paragraph six of the political declaration states: "If we do nothing [against the great social and economic divides of this world], we risk the entrenchment of a form of global apartheid." The Team fears that this indeed describes the Summit's most likely outcome. "Our faith calls us first to look at people and the planet," stresses Robra. "We want justice for the Earth community. Only then can we prevent global apartheid."
In its recommendation on the WSSD, the WCC Central Committee also urged churches to "set apart September 1 each year as a day of prayer for creation and its sustainability", and to follow up on the four issues that the churches had raised at the Summit "with reflections, theological engagement and actions with governments as appropriate".
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Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
Le Conseil œcuménique des Eglises s'attache à promouvoir l'unité des chrétiens dans la foi, le témoignage et le service, en vue d'un monde de justice et de paix. Communauté œcuménique d'Eglises fondée en 1948, le COE réunit aujourd'hui 349 Eglises protestantes, orthodoxes, anglicanes et autres, représentant plus de 560 millions de chrétiens; il travaille en coopération avec l'Eglise catholique romaine. Son secrétaire général est le Pasteur Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, de l'Eglise (luthérienne) de Norvège. Siège: Genève, Suisse.