Statement on the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 26 August - 4 September 2002)

ROME COUNCIL - For a More Equal Global Society, 20-21 January 2003


 

Global Governance and Global Sustainability - The Goals of Global Social Democracy

1. The Socialist International supported the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) that was held from 26 August to 4 September 2002 in Johannesburg as it supported the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, which provided the fundamental principles and the programme of action for achieving sustainable development. The WSSD contributed to the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Goals of the Millennium Declaration, to which the Socialist International strongly reaffirms its commitment. The Socialist International underlines its call upon the international community to fully and speedily implement the goals therein as well as those set out in other major UN conferences and summits.

At its Council meeting in Casablanca the Socialist International appealed to political leaders to establish in Johannesburg a new global partnership encompassing economic, social and environmental considerations.

2. As a non-governmental organisation with Category I consultative status with the United Nations the Socialist International took part in the conference.

3. The Socialist International welcomes the outcome of the WSSD and the reaffirmation by the international community, through the Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, of the importance of economic development, social development and environmental protection as interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development. The Summit gave new impetus to global action to fight poverty and protect the environment. The understanding of sustainable development was broadened and strengthened as a result of the Summit. Governments reaffirmed commitments and agreed to new concrete targets for action to achieve more effective implementation of sustainable development objectives. But further steps could have been carried out, as when the UN called for the WSSD it was generally acknowledged that progress in implementing the Agenda 21 had been disappointing since the 1992 Rio Summit.

4. The Socialist International welcomes the commitments contained in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation regarding:

- education for all and the promotion of women’s equal access and full participation in decision-making at all levels as a means of poverty alleviation;

- the provision of assistance to increase income-generating employment opportunities, taking into account the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work;

- improved access to water and sanitation;

- the shift towards sustainable consumption patterns;

- respect for biodiversity;

- enhanced health education and better access to health services and the struggle against HIV/AIDS.

The Socialist International regrets that the setting of more precise targets for the adoption of renewable energy sources was blocked.

5. The Socialist International regrets the meagre outcome of the WSSD regarding global governance. The WSSD was useful in defining an agenda for sustainable development and in identifying what should be the main components of a new global deal. But it has also clearly shown the limits of the current institutional framework to put it into effect. Our planet has a striking gap between its current problems and its governance system. The Socialist International regrets that no decisions were taken in Johannesburg regarding:

- The development of UNEP with the long-term aim of creating a World Environment Organisation;

- the setting up of a World Commission on Sustainability and Globalisation;

- the creation of a UN Economic Security Council that would deal with economic, social and environmental issues.

6. Regarding financial issues the Socialist International welcomes the reaffirmation of the commitments of the Monterrey Consensus during the WSSD. The Socialist International regrets that there has been little discussion about alternative models for financing development and the maintenance and provision of global public goods. The Socialist International regrets that there was no commitment to raise aid level and to further reduce debts in the developing countries. One possibility is recycling the debts for environmental purposes.

7. The Socialist International welcomes the reaffirmation in Johannesburg of the decisions contained in the Doha Ministerial Declaration to place the needs and interests of developing countries at the heart of the work programme, including unrestricted market access for products of interest to developing countries. The Socialist International regrets that no progress was achieved during the WSSD concerning the issue of agricultural subsidies and trade barriers for products from developing countries to developed countries.

A Social Democratic Vision for Sustainable Development

8. The Socialist International consists of political parties both in developed and developing countries, many of them presently in government. This makes it possible for the Socialist International to play a key role as a forerunner and bridge builder in political processes. Bridging the gap between poor and richer societies is crucial in order to reach solutions in achieving progress towards sustainable development.

9. The Socialist International adopted at its Council meeting in Maputo in November 2000 the "Platform for Global Progress" which emphasised the connection between the environment and development as the fundamental component in the process towards sustainable development. It also emphasised the need to create societies that could eradicate poverty and prosper within the limits that nature sets. Poverty eradication and changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption are overarching objectives of sustainable development and an essential requirement for promoting environmental protection. Good governance within each country without exception and global governance at international level are essential for sustainable development. At domestic level, sound environmental, social and economic policies, democratic institutions responsive to the needs of the people, rule of law, anti-corruption measures, fighting against terrorism, gender equity and an enabling environment for investment are the basis for sustainable development. The gap between developed and developing countries points to the continued need for a global economic order regulating dynamic development, decent labour and social justice and supportive of international cooperation. This is particularly important in the fields of finance, technology transfer, debt and trade, and regarding full and effective participation of developing countries in global decision-making, if the momentum for global progress towards sustainable development is to be maintained and increased. Peace, security and stability are essential for achieving sustainable development and ensuring that sustainable development benefits all.

10. The SI underscores that the implementation of sustainable development as envisaged in Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the WSSD will require strengthened institutional mechanisms, enhanced cooperation between developed and developing countries and strong political commitment by the international community.

11. The Socialist International underlines that the world continues to experience a widening of the gap between rich and poor, both within nations and throughout the different regions of the world; a growing concentration of financial and economic power combined with vulnerability to fiscal crises; a crucial challenge to representative democratic values in the context of globalisation; continuing conflict, within, as well as between, nations; increasing degradation, desertification and depletion of natural resources. The greatest environmental challenges include: the climate changes caused by global warming; the hole in the ozone layer; the diminishing variety of species; the degradation of agricultural land and ground water; toxic pollution and excessive consumption, all of which threaten the very basis of life. That is the reason why there is a need to shape the globalisation process to be inclusive and create a world domestic policy with the aim of achieving sustainable development.

12. As the Socialist International, we are the bearers of a social vision for sustainable development through the recognition of fundamental individual and collective rights. We are able to integrate the environmental and development agendas, that is, an agenda able to respond to the desire for justice without upsetting the biosphere, since equity can no longer be separated from ecology. Our vision is based on a social democratic model characterised by the goals of health, education and welfare for all, full and fair employment, international solidarity and a good living environment. In the new vision of the future, the environmental perspective, along with the economic and social angle, is fundamental to a society based on democracy, solidarity and justice.

Meeting the Needs of Developing Countries

13. The Socialist International emphasises after Johannesburg that the commitments which already resulted from the Rio Summit have not been sufficiently carried out, while efforts to do so have exacerbated the deep divisions between the developed countries and developing countries which fear that environmental restraints will only leave them further behind in the global race for economic development.

14. The Socialist International understands that developing countries entered the Rio+10 process with the view that developed countries have not delivered what they promised back in 1992. There has been an overall steady decline in developing aid over the past 10 years. Only a few countries - Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden - are fulfilling the target of 0.7 per cent of GDP. The Socialist International therefore welcomes the reaffirmation in Johannesburg of the developed countries’ commitment to the 0.7 per cent target and the commitments made at the Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, in March 2002. The Socialist International underlines that development aid must be organised in a less bureaucratic way and must be focused on education, health and social programmes. The aid for development policies must be coherent with their declared scope, which is to overcome poverty and underdevelopment as well as economic and social disparity. The aid for development should not be used for the promotion of the geopolitical priorities of the donors or as mere instruments of the national foreign policy. In this respect the responsibility of the aid for development policies on the global and regional levels must be considered. Even though foreign direct investment has increased, it is still not sufficient, and the overall majority of developing countries has not benefited. Africa, in particular, is lagging behind. The Socialist International considers this a significant political challenge and welcomes the special emphasis the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation puts on sustainable development in Africa.

15. The Socialist International stresses the need for providing adequate means of implementation to developing countries in order for them to achieve the goals of sustainable development. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation made progress in identifying the sources of finance and technology required.

Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development

16. The Socialist International emphasises that eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today, the highest priority for developing countries and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. Environmental degradation is an obstacle to sustainable livelihoods and has the greatest impact on the poor. It is therefore essential to integrate environmental policies into national poverty reduction strategies and processes. The documents agreed upon in Johannesburg explicitly point out the connection between poverty and environmental degradation and set up new paths towards sustainable development, even if we would have wanted to come up with concrete time-bound targets and time-frames.

17. The Socialist International judges that poverty, being associated with social exclusion, derives not only from deprivation of resources but also from a deficit of rights and opportunities. Strategies to eradicate poverty will have to be centred on reinforcing the latter. This is particularly true for women who, together with children, often bear the greatest burden of extreme poverty. The empowerment of women therefore constitutes a central element of strategies for the eradication of poverty. The Socialist International welcomes the fact that the decisions taken in Johannesburg emphatically underline equality between genders as a basic precondition for sustainable development.

18. The Socialist International underlines the fact that the realisation of the poverty- and hunger- related goals contained in the UN Millennium Declaration, reaffirmed and advanced in Johannesburg, to halve by the year 2015 the proportion of the world's people whose income is less than one dollar a day, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water and sanitation will require various actions at all levels. The Socialist International welcomes the decisions of the WSSD taken in this regard, especially:

- the support for the establishment of a World Solidarity Fund for Poverty Eradication and the Promotion of Human Development in the poorest regions of the World;

- the appeal to creditor countries to join the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) and the recommendations of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation to reduce the debt of the less developed countries and write off that of the poorest, even if we would have preferred a clear commitment;

- the emphasis on good governance, especially respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law as a basis for promoting social justice and solidarity in our societies as well as the empowerment of poor people;

- the detailed decisions aimed at delivering basic health services and health education and reducing environmental health threats with particular reference to the alarming spread of HIV/AIDS and other contagious diseases;

- the reaffirmation of the goals of the UN Millennium Declaration regarding the promotion of better access to education and the decisions taken in Johannesburg to ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that they will have equal access to all levels of education;

- the decisions taken to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development to eradicate poverty and achieve food security, to promote diversification of rural economies and improved access to markets and market information for agricultural products;

- the demand for developing transparent, decentralised and democratically controlled water management strategies to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources;

- the emphasis on measures to combat desertification, drought and floods as important instruments to combat poverty;

- the declaration of intent to support developing countries, to develop, adopt and implement policies, strategies and programmes on sustainable urbanisation and urban management as a means to eradicate both urban and rural poverty;

- the new concept of partnership for Africa’s development, which is of paramount importance; this concept must be understood as a basis for a genuine joint effort for development to be pursued by the developed states and the African states rather than just a framework for simple assistance to the latter, the main goal being to share fairly the capabilities to produce prosperity and not only to transfer prosperity as such. Appropriate measures, on both sides, must be implemented to this end;

- the fact that the promotion of renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency is one of the major elements in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. Although the Socialist International regrets that the Summit could not agree on a time bound target for the promotion of renewable energies, it underlines that the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation is the first international agreement to place emphasis on the role of renewable energies and energy efficiency for sustainable development.

Changing Unsustainable Patterns of Consumption and Production

19. The Socialist International underlines that the prosperity of the higher developed countries is largely based on an over-consumption of the world's finite natural resources. Fundamental changes in the way societies produce and consume are indispensable for achieving global sustainable development. The Socialist International therefore welcomes the decisions taken in Johannesburg in the Plan of Implementation with regard to changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, especially:

- the declarations of intent to promote cleaner production and ecoefficiency in all countries through incentives and support schemes;

- the appeal to governments, regional and international organisations to implement the recommendations and conclusions of the ninth session of the Commission for Sustainable Development on energy relevant to the respective domestic situations;

- the demand for the promotion of integrated approaches to policy-making at national and regional levels for transport services and systems to promote sustainable development, including policies and planning for land use, infrastructure, public transport systems and goods delivery networks;

- the call for strategies to prevent and minimise waste and maximise reuse and recycling, with participation of governments and all stakeholders, in order to improve resource efficiency;

- the renewed commitment to sound management on the precautionary principle of chemicals throughout their life cycle and in particular the agreement on the time bound target to minimise as far as possible the adverse effects of chemicals on human health and the environment by 2020;

- of high importance is the decision to develop a 10-year framework of programmes to accelerate the shift towards sustainable consumption and production. This has to be seen in the context of the accelerating development towards knowledge-based societies. The Socialist International encourages governments to create their own 10-year work programmes at state level.

 

Protecting and Managing the Natural Resource Base of Economic and Social Development

20. The Socialist International emphasises that environmental policies are not a burden, but a necessity for ensuring that economic and social development are sustainable. Nature and environmental resources are an indispensable basis for human welfare and advancement. Human activities are having an increasing impact on the integrity of ecosystems. Managing the natural resources base in a precautionary and integrated manner is essential for sustainable development. In this regard, it is necessary to implement strategies to protect all ecosystems and to achieve integrated management of land, water and living resources, while strengthening regional, national and local capacities. In order to create economic growth, natural resources must not be over consumed, the biodiversity must not be lost and ecoefficiency must be an integrated part of every country’s policy.

21. The Socialist International firmly believes that in the long run green knowledge-based societies including new technology can contribute to a fairer, economically more efficient and environmentally more responsible, development.

22. The Socialist International urges the mobilisation and financing of global public goods. This constitutes a tremendous challenge for the community of states that is growing ever closer together. It is therefore urgently required, for the promotion of development policies, to analyse all the proposals that have been submitted on how the maintenance and provision of global public goods can be financed in great detail. The Socialist International underlines the need for global taxation. Therefore it supports efforts to find practical ways for taxation on international currency transactions, on the sources of global pollution and on the arms trade. The Socialist International is concerned about the fact that the WSSD made no progress in discussing new financial instruments to assure the maintenance and provision of global public goods. The Socialist International is determined to give new impetus to keep this international debate running.

23. The Socialist International emphasises that global warming is the greatest threat to life on the planet. Scientists are now more explicit than ever before: the climate is affected by human activities and results in climate changes. Poor countries suffer the most from global warming. Highly developed countries have a particular responsibility to reduce emissions, but less developed and poorer countries must contribute to the effort as well. The commitments that countries have made today concerning emissions simply are not enough.

The Socialist International advocates cooperation between both developed and developing countries on reducing emissions, with the wealthier countries contributing the necessary transfer of knowledge, technology and financial resources. The Socialist International appreciates the decisions taken in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation in this regard and the commitments made by developed countries in particular in the so-called Type-2-Partnerships.

The Socialist International advocates the rapid ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and therefore welcomes the appeal to ratify the Protocol within the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The Socialist International emphatically calls on the United States to join the fight against global warming.

Sustainable Development in a Globalising World

24. The Socialist International emphasises the need to lay down good governance at state as well as global level as an underlying concept for sustainable development. It requires precise agreements in order to be able to reach this objective. This holds true for environmental issues as such, as well as for the broader concept of governance for sustainable development. This entails that the existing international structures and institutions for governance be put to the test. The Socialist International welcomes the establishment of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation by the International Labour Organisation. This Commission, chaired by President Halonen of Finland and President Mkapa of Tanzania, will work in the tradition of former World Commissions, namely the ones chaired by Olof Palme, Willy Brandt and Gro Harlem Brundtland.

The Socialist International deeply regrets that the World Summit failed to give precise answers on how international structures and institutions could be optimised to promote sustainable development. The proposal of a World Commission for Sustainability and Globalisation was not taken into consideration. It remains an important proposal. The Socialist International is determined to keep it on the agenda of the Johannesburg Follow-up Process.

25. The Socialist International underlines that globalisation has to work for sustainable development. This will mean modification to trade and development assistance policies that should be assessed on their effects on sustainable development. Combating poverty and providing greater access to markets for the poorest countries are important components of a programme for sustainable development. Concrete steps are crucial regarding financing issues, the transfer of technology, the dismantling of subsidies that constitute a barrier to trade and the status of the environmental dimension in relation to trade policy. Regarding the financing issue, some progress was made at the World Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey but much more needs to be achieved. Developed states renewed their commitment to the 0.7 per cent goal in Johannesburg. The Socialist International calls on its member parties in the developed states to promote significant steps towards this goal.

26. The deficiencies, disparities and even lack of access to technological and scientific progress, as well as to education, might lead to cultural divides and make more difficult the process of inter- (multi-) cultural dialogue and understanding. Cultural diversity should remain a source of creative wealth and not one of divergent or even conflictive developments. In this respect, one must develop a culture of communication. This aims to bring together the universal values of modern civilisation and cultural diversity as, among others, factors of sustainable development.

27. The Socialist International stresses that the advantages of globalisation have been up to now limited to some sectors of the world economy, mainly in the spheres of communication and finance, but the disadvantages have been present in the majority of developing countries. There is a need to have a round of trade negotiations allowing better market access for developing countries, especially for the least developed countries. This implies the dismantling of trade barriers in developed countries. The Socialist International furthermore stresses that an important prerequisite of sustainable development is that the financial markets are based on economic, social and ecological concerns. International social and environmental agreements and the WTO must be accorded equal importance and must operate in a mutually supportive way. The social, including the cultural and environmental perspective, must be strengthened during the forthcoming round of trade negotiations in the WTO-framework (GATT, GATS, TRIPS) and the WTO should play its part in that process, as must the trade unions. The Socialist International therefore welcomes the renewed commitment to the Doha Development Agenda within the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

28. The EU Everything but Arms initiative could serve as an example for the abolition of quotas and tariffs for the least developed states. The Socialist International supports the World Summit’s appeal to all developed countries to join this initiative. There is also a need for additional regional free trade organisations. Developing countries would gain much from better access to each others markets. Most international trade is regional and not global.

29. The responsibility for sustainable development lies with the states and the manifold civil society, which means the engagement of a variety of actors ranging from businesses to single issue movements. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation contains the decision to actively promote corporate responsibility and accountability, including through the full development and effective implementation of intergovernmental agreements and measures, international initiatives and public-private partnerships, and appropriate national regulations. The Socialist International welcomes this decision. It will observe the development of the issue of corporate responsibility especially regarding the risk of abuse. The non economic parts of civil society continue to have an important role in controlling the actions of governments as well as businesses.

30. The Socialist International underlines the need for more effective democratic and accountable international and multilateral institutions in order to achieve the goals of sustainable development. Implementation of the decisions of the WSSD requires an organised and effective follow-up process. The Socialist International appeals to its member parties, especially those currently in government, to commit themselves to the full and speedy implementation of the provisions adopted in Johannesburg so as to eradicate poverty, diminish the gap between developed and developing states, advance sustainable development and promote a fully inclusive and equitable globalisation.

- The SI stresses, in particular, the need for improvement in the functioning of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, the most important organisations of global governance and the G8 process. Their action must be aimed at achieving the growth of developing countries, within the context of a balanced economic growth and respect of human and social rights. Social objectives, problems of employment and a more generalised sustainable development, are sacrificed for the benefit of the financial and trade interests of the industrialised countries in particular.

- The SI considers that the reform of these institutions is an essential condition for achieving a more just and human globalisation. The objectives of such reform should be the following:

1. The interests and needs of the developing countries must be appropriately represented in the decision-making processes of these institutions so they can participate responsibly in the decisions that concern them.

2. The decision-making processes of the governmental organisations of these institutions must be carried out with the greatest transparency, so that the criteria used for reaching decisions are known.

3. These institutions should focus more on social objectives, problems of unemployment and a more generalised sustainable development process.

- The SI asks all its member parties, in all parliaments in the Interparliamentary Union, and in the governments of which they form part, to support these proposals of reform, using all possible political initiatives.

31. The Socialist International will continue to strengthen the importance and influence of democratic global policy. Representatives of the SI member parties will act in this direction - as members of the IPU or as civil servants of international institutions. At its next Congress the Socialist International will agree a Social Democratic Approach to Governance in a Global Society, an approach dedicated to equal opportunities and participation for women and men, poor and rich, developing, transnational and developed countries.

32. The Socialist International acknowledges the fact that two main challenges for the globalisation process are the cultural identity conflicts and migration in addition to the economic and social disparities. After 11 September this is more important than ever.

33. According to our social democratic vision, the right answer to these two new challenges can only be given on the basis of our active global solidarity.

34. In this respect, global security and global sustainable development could be promoted by inter-cultural dialogue and not through cultural isolation and discrimination. Therefore, the political respect for the free circulation of people and political strategies and the political order to guarantee everybody a decent future in his/her country are needed.

You are currently offline. Some pages or content may fail to load.