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NGOs Say “Look Towards the Future”

By Dionne Jackson Miller*

Environmentalists and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from over 40 countries called for the coming Rio + 10 conference not only to assess past progress, but to agree on an agenda for the future, and to promote the inclusion of environmental issues in all global trade agreements.

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil.- Environmentalists and representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from over 40 countries called for the coming Rio + 10 conference not only to assess past progress, but to agree on an agenda for the future, and to promote the inclusion of environmental issues in all global trade agreements.

Those were the main conclusions of a multi-pronged statement released at the University of Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, at a major preparatory forum for the international conference on sustainable development (better known as Rio + 10), which will take place next September in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The statement coincided with the start of the World Social Forum (WSF) in that same Brazilian city, with the hope that sustainability issues would be at the core of all discussions at the Jan 31-Feb 5 gathering.

The representatives of civil society underlined that the Rio + 10 summit would not only serve to chart global progress since the ground-breaking Earth Summit in Rio ten years ago, but would also have the task of shaping a new agenda for the future.

The meeting also reiterated that the mechanisms of globalisation must
improve the conditions of the populations of the world, while rejecting
globalisation as solely the search for profit. “Nature and its
protection must be above any international trade agreements,” said the statement.

The meeting rejected the patenting of the people's knowledge by
international corporations, as well as attempts to push genetically modified
foodstuffs.

There was also a call for radical changes in consumption and production
patterns, and the reiteration of the need for access to water and land.

Finally, the participants underlined that “We reject the position of the United States in not ratifying the Kyoto protocol (signed in Japan in 1997 with the aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions), and placing its own economic interests above the interests of humanity.”

* Dionne Jackson Miller is an IPS correspondent.


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