Shaping global equity on environmental terms



10 Points for Sustainable Development

The World Summit on Sustainable Development is due to take place in late August 2002 in Johannesburg. This summit, to be held ten years after the Rio Earth Summit, aims to take stock of developments and initiate action-focused decisions.
In the run-up to Johannesburg, a broad alliance of German non-governmental organizations has joined forces to launch the campaign 'Global equity on environmental terms'. Our common goal is to ensure that the policy realm and the society of our country assume more responsibility for environmentally and socially sustainable development.
There has been enough lip service, and there have been enough non-binding declarations of intent. The Johannesburg conference must do more to make things happen. There is a need for massive political pressure and broad social mobilization for the insights and findings of Rio to become reality at last.

The Rio conference already determined that:
The industrialized countries' model of prosperity is not sustainable.
The industrialized North has accepted the principal responsibility for the global environmental crisis and has pledged new financial resources and technology transfer for the developing countries to promote their eco-social development.
The right to develop on a level playing field was affirmed as a principle. The developing countries, for their part, have recognized that maintaining the natural resource base which sustains our lives is a national responsibility.

Ten years later, we find that:
The industrialized world is going to Johannesburg with a huge credibility deficit. Though technologically feasible, only marginal use is being made of the enormous efficiency potentials in resource consumption, from water to energy. Climate change is accelerating, the loss of biological diversity is continuing unabated, vital resources such as potable water are becoming scarce and social and ecological inequity is mounting with the result that the gap between the poor and the rich is widening rather than narrowing.
Nor are the governments of developing and transition countries blameless for the highly inadequate implementation of the Rio decisions. The great majority of the industrial and political elites of the North, South and East alike have not really accepted the message about the ecological limits to resources and environmental carrying capacity.
This critical state of affairs prompts us to raise our voice in support of comprehensive reforms and social policy initiatives.
Even today, the scarcity of vital resources such as potable water and soils, the social and cultural dislocation caused by misguided economic policies and the destructive exploitation of the natural environment are key causes of conflict and forced migration in many countries. Since the attacks in New York and Washington, the structural causes of terrorism such as social injustice and cultural levelling have moved more to the forefront of attention. Peace is more than the absence of war and terror. Overcoming social injustice, respecting human rights, ensuring equitable and sustainable use of natural life-support systems and bringing about fundamental changes in transnational trade and financial policies are key contributions to striking a global balance between North and South.

We have an expectation that the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg will
give clear signals of a change of course in the political and economic realms, to exploit the full potential for efficient resource conservation and to remove environmentally nonsensical subsidies;
launch concrete initiatives to structure the globalization process on socially equitable and environmentally acceptable terms;
trigger new social policy initiatives for sustainable lifestyles and more democratic participation in political decision-making processes at the local, regional and national as well as international levels.

We have an expectation that the German government will engage in specific political initiatives to promote in Germany, the European Union and at global level the requisite social and political processes of change in the 10 following areas of action.

We call upon the citizens of our country and upon German industry to take the contribution they can potentially make towards meeting global social and ecological obligations as a precept for action.

1. Addressing poverty and delivering equity
The number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide will soon reach one billion. Poverty is an expression of social inequity. Over the past years, in the wake of globalization, the gap between the poor and the rich has continued to widen worldwide, but also within Germany. For there to be globally sustainable development, it is essential to overcome poverty, particularly in the countries of the South. This implies a consistent change of course in international economic, trade and financial policies.
The primary input of development cooperation must be to make a targeted contribution to structural poverty reduction in the villages and urban slums of developing countries. In doing so, it must support self-help initiatives and social movements whose efforts seek to create social equity and are oriented to sustainability principles and to implementing Agenda 21.
Moreover, the rich countries have an obligation to provide additional financial resources for development cooperation. We therefore demand that the commitment of industrialized nations to provide 0.7% of their gross national product for development assistance, which was reaffirmed in Rio, is honoured in a binding fashion by the year 2010. The proportion of financial resources allocated to direct poverty reduction needs to be increased significantly. All available means need to be brought to bear in order to achieve the internationally agreed development objectives, which include halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, achieving universal primary education and further implementing national strategies for sustainable development.
The German government has announced its intention to make a specific German contribution to halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty worldwide, in the shape of its 2015 Programme of Action. We call upon the German government to follow up this announcement with concrete actions.

2. Protecting the world's climate by redirecting energy and transport policies
Greenhouse gas emissions need to be curbed drastically in order to prevent climate change and the associated severe consequences. Since industrialized countries produce significantly higher per-capita emissions, they must make the first moves. The Kyoto Protocol must be ratified as soon as possible and needs to enter into force in time for Johannesburg.
To prevent dangerous climate change, concrete climate protection measures need to be set in train swiftly in the industrialized countries, so that a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved by the year 2020, and even 80% by 2050. To achieve this, it is essential not only to put in place consistent climate protection policies, but also to exploit actively the diverse options for action available to each individual.
Primary energy consumption and the use of fossil fuels, notably coal, need to be reduced swiftly. To this end, it is essential in Germany to abandon current plans for developing further lignite mining areas and to terminate the subsidization of hard coal mining without delay. The process of ecological tax reform needs to be continued and regulations adopted for its expansion to the European level. Its numerous exemptions must be removed.
The proportion of renewable energy sources in primary energy consumption must be raised to a national and worldwide share of well over 10% within the next 10 years. It is similarly essential to reverse the trend in the unabated growth of emissions from the transport sector. This necessitates refraining from any further expansion of automobile and aviation infrastructure, expanding instead public local and long-distance transport services so that these can become a competitive alternative.

3. Steering globalization onto a socially and environmentally acceptable path
Globalization is a highly contradictory process, creating immense wealth and an abundance of goods, while at the same time generating impoverishment and sharp inequality. The associated upheavals affect the international financial system, world trade and production systems in equal measure. They also impact upon culture, ways of life and the value-orientations of people on all continents. Guided by efficiency and profit maximization, markets and states seek to externalize environmental and social costs. Even the most important areas of public welfare provision - education, health, old age provision and drinking water supply - are subjected to the logic of efficiency if they are considered profitable.
Johannesburg must initiate concrete initiatives steering globalization onto a socially and environmentally acceptable path. This requires deep-seated reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as the international financial system and its organizations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
A sustainable world trade system must prioritize environmental protection and resource conservation, poverty alleviation and socially and environmentally sustainable production standards ahead of trade liberalization. Environmental and human rights agreements must have primacy over WTO law.
The international financial system needs to be restructured such that currency and debt crises no longer have the potential to throw entire national economies off-balance and jeopardize their natural resources. Substantial debt remission and the introduction of an international, fair and transparent arbitration procedure are key preconditions for sustainable development, as is a departure from structural adjustment programmes that rely almost exclusively upon export orientation, privatization and deregulation. To rein in the momentum of financial markets, there is a need to introduce appropriate measures such as a currency transaction tax.
It is high time for the debate on international taxes and charges upon resource-consuming and polluting systems of production and transport (aviation and ocean shipping, fisheries etc.) to be placed firmly on the international agenda. A greater proportion of international taxes and charges should be deployed to finance environmentally and socially sustainable development.
The key environmental principles - the precautionary principle and polluter-pays principle - need to be established in German foreign trade and payments policy too. This applies particularly to the award criteria for public sector-backed export credit guarantees and investment guarantees; these continue to be awarded without applying clear and binding environmental and social standards and corresponding review procedures.
Not only must environmental and social limits be set on economic globalization, but the process also needs to be integrated within a democratically controllable system of political rules for sustainable development. Germany, in its capacity as a prominent industrial and exporting nation, has a particular responsibility here. The international credibility of the German government depends crucially upon its national and international initiatives to structure the globalization process.

4. Providing food security through a global reconversion of agriculture
Although enough food is produced worldwide for more than six billion people, about 800 million suffer hunger. According to the figures of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the majority of these are small farmers and rural workers. At the same time, agriculture faces, and itself frequently contributes to, diverse environmental problems ranging from soil erosion to the contamination and exhaustion of potable water resources. The outbreaks of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease in Europe have underscored once more that the industrialization of agriculture cannot solve the global problems of food security and environmental protection. What is rather called for is a reconversion of agriculture, towards systems adapted to regional ecological cycles and the needs of smaller producers. However, corresponding policies can only succeed if consumers use their purchasing behaviour to influence market realities to a far greater extent than they have done in the past.
In the industrialized countries, the main need is to restructure radically the system of subsidies. Production incentives, guaranteed prices and export subsidies, which destroy the environment at home and agricultural markets abroad, must be abolished and the resources channelled into programmes that promote sustainable regional development and provide targeted rewards for the environmental protection, nature conservation and landscape management services provided by agriculture; one recipient of such resources will be organic farming.
Hand in hand with this, it is essential that the EU abandons its agricultural protectionism, thus further opening its markets for products from developing countries. At the same time, there is a need for diverse measures to support developing countries on the path towards agricultural systems that are sustainable and do not place export interests above the food security of the local population. These measures include comprehensive land reform securing access for women, above all, to productive resources. Small-scale producers, especially of staple foods, need to be supported particularly by national-level agricultural policies, promoted by development assistance activities. This includes protecting markets against subsidized imports. Such policies must be permissible without restriction under the WTO regime.
Recognition needs to be given to the services provided by farmers in breeding and preserving valuable crop plant varieties. The patenting of seeds, living organisms and traditional knowledge consequently needs to be prohibited.

5. Promoting the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and forests
The biological diversity of the world is declining daily. Since Rio, its conservation and sustainable use and the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from its use are key themes of the international debate on sustainable resource use. The Convention on Biological Diversity has not yet succeeded in reversing the negative trajectory. The continuing degradation of natural forests, overexploitation of almost all marine fish stocks and unabated biopiracy are examples of the effects of misguided policies and patterns of consumption.
We therefore call for the consistent political implementation and further expansion of existing legal instruments and agreements. The Biosafety Protocol, which regulates the handling of genetically modified organisms, must be ratified and implemented swiftly. Internationally binding legal instruments that prevent biopiracy and give people in developing countries an equitable share in the use of their biological resources must be further developed and implemented. Finally, far greater efforts need to be made, notably by the industrialized countries, to finance the conservation of global biological diversity.
Development cooperation activities, too, must in future promote more strongly the sustained conservation of natural resources as well as structural local poverty reduction.
In view of the demand for timber, especially in the industrialized countries, international forest policy is a particularly striking example of the opposite of sustainability; for years, it has been at a complete standstill. A forest protocol with which the causes of advancing forest degradation can be combated should therefore be agreed within the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
In Germany, a two-pronged strategy needs to be pursued within the context of a long overdue national biodiversity strategy: Measures for broad-scale ecosystem conservation must be implemented (e.g. through consistent implementation of the EU Habitats Directive, and promotion of ecologically sound forest use, such as envisaged within the international certification scheme operated by the Forest Stewardship Council) and active measures need to be taken to prevent the destructive global-level impacts on the natural environment generated by the national economy and national-level consumption.

6. Protecting soils and combating desertification
Besides air and water, soils are the fundamental environmental systems: They provide the life-support basis for humanity and for plants and animals; it is only through them that biodiversity, genetic resources and raw materials can be created at all; they serve food production, and are water reservoirs, pollutant filters and regulators of global biogeochemical cycles. It is essential to raise awareness among the general public and among politicians of the importance and protection of soils.
Worldwide, 15% of the ice-free land surface is affected by soil degradation. About 1.2 billion people, or every sixth inhabitant of the Earth, are endangered just by desertification and drought. In developing countries, soils are often a basis for generating a large proportion of national income. The greater part of the population of these countries (up to 80%) is made up of small farmers, whose income and food security depend essentially upon soil productivity. Rapidly advancing land degradation (desertification) impairs the social and economic development of almost one billion people worldwide.
It is essential to minimize the factors causing soil degradation, such as erosion, compaction and surface sealing, or nutrient loss, salinization, contamination and acidification and the underlying causes. While the factors causing soil degradation in the North are wealth-induced, in the developing countries they are poverty-induced. Greater political consideration needs to be given to the linkages between soil degradation and other global environmental problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss through industrial agriculture and expansion of land use as well as the sealing (paving) of land; an international soils policy needs to be crafted.
To preserve natural soil functions for food production and for global food security, it is necessary to engage in multifunctional, site-appropriate land use and the environmentally sound design of the framework conditions for agricultural markets. It is also essential to support a more balanced distribution of land ownership and to intensify the transfer of technologies and knowledge relating to integrated systems.
Intensifying urbanization worldwide must be counteracted by promoting integrated sustainable settlements development in order to reduce land consumption. In the North, effective measures in this connection include 'unpaving' cities, cleaning up contaminated sites and internalizing soil protection within real estate prices. In the developing countries, German development policy should promote urban potentials for the sustainable use of natural resources such as wood and water, and should militate for equitable trade relations between rural and urban areas.
In Germany, too, we are still far removed from a sustainable use of soils. Although a Federal Soil Protection Act entered into force in March 1999 and further statutory ordinances and planning processes shall contribute to protecting soils, the paving-over of land is continuing unabated in Germany: Some 130 ha are consumed daily for transport routes and settlement areas. Consequently, it is necessary to reduce the additional land take for settlement and transport purposes to zero by the year 2010. Instances of new land use must be compensated for in full by 'unpaving' elsewhere.

7. Making good the right to water and utilizing water resources sustainably
Access to water is a precondition to a healthy life and to economic development, and is crucial to food security. However, in many regions water is becoming increasingly scarce. The causes of this include mounting demand, pollution and wastage, above all by industry and industrial agriculture. This particularly affects poorer countries and population groups. In many instances large dams have done more harm than good to sustainable water management and have often been associated with severe human rights violations.
If efforts to conserve and sustainably use water resources should fail, there is a risk of heightening social, regional and inter-state tensions and North-South conflict. Struggles over water could become one of the most volatile areas of political conflict in the 21st century.
The equal right of access to water needs to be enshrined as a human right, and honouring this right must remain the task and responsibility of states. National and international programmes to contain the water crisis must be expanded and strengthened. More financial resources need to be made available for global water policy.
The World Commission on Dams (WCD) has elaborated recommendations for a comprehensive water management approach with wide-ranging participation of civil society and affected groups. These recommendations now need to be recognized and implemented by governments and international development organizations.
In Germany, too, resources are subject to high utilization pressure, caused particularly by agriculture. Further improvements in water resources quality are advancing only slowly. In the field of groundwater protection, no reversal of the trend is in sight. It is essential to engage in political reforms in order to ensure active precautionary policies and improved environmental protection; above all, incentives to use water sustainably need to be strengthened. A privatization of water supply would stand in the way of this goal. The basic structure of the system of localized water supply as the responsibility of municipalities, which is well proven in Germany, must not be changed or even abolished.

8. Structuring consumption patterns and lifestyles sustainably
Sustainable development and global equity also require a redirection of our lifestyles in the industrialized countries. Even today, four planets would be required if all people were to share the lifestyles of the industrialized nations. For our well-being, we do not need very many goods, but rather goods that are durable and do not impair the environment. We do not have to personally own everything that we need. Consuming more and more and commercializing ever more areas of our life will not enhance our joy in living. Sustainability means reversing this trend. To achieve more sustainable lifestyles, the policy realm must create supportive framework conditions; however, we must also change our behaviour as consumers.
There are many opportunities to adapt everyday behaviour so as to save resources and energy. Examples include shopping for fair-trade produce; buying regionally produced or organically labelled foods; or, to protect the climate, reducing traffic by using public transport, exploiting energy savings potentials in buildings, or procuring electricity from renewable energy sources - the list is lengthy.
Environment and development policy education and awareness-raising efforts help to enable the general public to rethink everyday behaviour in terms of sustainability. State support is essential in order for NGOs to work professionally.
Environmental education and 'global learning' about North-South inequities must be integrated within the curricula of schools and adult education institutions, as well as in teacher training, in order to create an understanding of the inter-linkages with sustainable development.

9. Sustainability needs gender equity
Sustainable development is inconceivable without the participation of women. This requires removing inequities and strengthening the role of women. As yet, neither environmental policy nor development policy has seriously implemented this message of Agenda 21. There is a trend towards feminizing both social responsibility - from the education of children through to care for the elderly and for people suffering AIDS - and environmental responsibility - from waste separation in industrialized countries through to tree-planting activities in developing countries - by shifting it to private households or local communities and there, in turn, mainly to women. Though fundamental to the establishment of sustainability, the unpaid welfare provision and poorly paid service functions which largely remain women's work are not valued by society as a factor in overall productivity. Now as ever, there is a 'glass ceiling' for women in the individual sectors: At the day-to-day, grassroots level they are active, but the more technological, scientific or political the level of action becomes, the more it is dominated by men. Gender equity - in the sense of an equitable distribution of access to and ownership of resources and equitable allocation of burdens and obligations in environmental protection and livelihood maintenance, as well as opportunities to actively structure environment and development policy - remains to be realized. The German government needs to engage actively in gender mainstreaming, i.e. the integration of a gender perspective within all political departments. In accordance with the precautionary principle, sustainability policy should be oriented more strongly to everyday public welfare provision and collective rights to natural common resources. For the management of survival in poverty, just as in the realm of environmental protection, burdens need to be shared between men and women. At the same time, gender democracy needs to be instituted, in the sense of sharing political decision-making powers from the Local Agenda level through to the level of UN negotiations.

10. Strengthening Local Agenda 21 processes and participation at all levels
In the follow-up to the Rio Conference, numerous Local Agenda 21 processes were launched in Germany. These have developed participatory initiatives for sustainable municipal policy at the local level. At the same time, however, public participation rights have been rolled back in recent years, e.g. through legislation to expedite planning procedures. The success of sustainable development depends crucially upon the breadth of social support. This is why participation needs to be expanded significantly at all levels of policy. Free access to information is a precondition to this.
The right of access to information and social participation in environmental policy have been stipulated in binding form under international law for the first time in the Europe-wide Aarhus Convention, which entered into force in 2001. We call upon the German government to ratify the Aarhus Convention swiftly. In Johannesburg, a process should be initiated to establish the provisions of this convention at the global level, too.
Elements of direct democracy need to be strengthened or introduced. Procedures for true public participation must be understood as a communicative process and not as a formal act. This involves new forms of participation which make it possible to strike a balance between diverging interests, give better representation to interests that previously had insufficient involvement, develop creativity and competence, involve special target groups and make participation as representative as possible.
In future, the national strategy for sustainable development must be elaborated with the widest possible social participation. This requires greater awareness-raising efforts and an expanded range of opportunities to join in.
The more than two thousand Local Agenda 21 processes in Germany need to be supported and stabilized. The outcomes of these processes - guiding visions, targets, indicators and measures for the sustainable development of municipalities, as well as the sensitization of stakeholders for environment and development issues - represent key contributions to sustainable development.

Contact: German NGO Forum on Environment & Development · Am Michaelshof 8-10 · D-53177 Bonn
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