Low expectations for johannesburg

Even before the start of the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, environmental organizations are calling for a boycott of the summit. Criticism of business influence

The follow-up summit to the legendary Rio Conference of 1992 begins today (Monday) in Johannesburg, Sud Africa. But what is being negotiated? If German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder is to be believed, a "Environmental Summit", Non-governmental organizations, however, speak more of "Development". In fact, the concepts of development and environmental protection are integrated into the UN summit on sustainable development. Until the 4. September the balance of Rio is to be drawn. According to the announcement, the central question is how the countries of the so-called Third World can catch up economically without repeating the mistakes of the industrialized countries in dealing with their natural resources.

60.000 delegates from 180 countries will meet for consultations in the next week and a half. However, the most important ones are missing. US President George W. Bush stays away from the summit, Gerhard Schroder will arrive only two days before the end of the summit. It seems that not only the Western governments have long since given up the belief in a success of the meeting. While the U.S. has completely withdrawn, the countries of the EU are struggling to find common positions, and even the developing countries in the Group of 77 cannot find a common denominator.

Thus the Rio+10 summit in Johannesburg threatens to become a sad balance sheet meeting of the world summit of Rio de Janeiro, which was concluded with rough hopes. The noble goals set at that time have been almost completely missed. The U.S. has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions, which was negotiated as a direct result of the Rio conference. The goals of development aid are also clearly underachieved. Aimed at increasing development aid in industrialized nations to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product in Rio 1992. Currently, Germany is at 0.32 percent. German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, speaking to the online edition of the news magazine "Der Spiegel" unlangst as a success.

While Johannesburg is trying to repair what can hardly be repaired, experts are calling for a boycott of the meeting. In an appeal to nongovernmental organizations council the "Federal Coordination Internationalism" The absence from the summit. A look at the development since Rio allows only one conclusion, it says:

The Rio trial has failed!

But how could it come to this? The main complaint from development groups is the reinterpretation of the progressive Rio criteria. The Darmstadt political scientist Klaus Dieter Wolf explains the concept: Sustainable development, i.e., future-oriented development, was once a

The concept of sustainable development was taken up in the first report of the Club of Rome with a new guiding category, which might have been a trend-setting approach for North-South research on development theory and strategy.

This was suitable, as a counter concept to the prevailing industrial-capitalist model of civilization, to resume the paradigm dispute in the debate on development theory on a new level, which had become obsolete (after the elimination of system competition). The first report of the Club of Rome with the title "Sustainable Development" was taken up "The limits to growth" (1972), without going so far as to set goals such as the establishment of an ecological world government.

There is no more talk of limits to development in Johannesburg. On the contrary, the debate about "sustainable development" in the meantime fully embedded in a market economy futeral. While the unlimited expansion of the market was still a problem in Rio, it is presented in Johannesburg as the solution to all ills.

In international environment and development policy, technocratic problem management has become established, and a new vision of social development is no longer in sight,

he authors of the book Christoph Gorg and Ulrich Brandt (Myths of Global Environmental Management. "Rio+10" and the dead ends "sustainable development", Verlag Westfalisches Dampfboot, 2002). While the wasteful use of resources in the northern industrialized countries is played down, poverty in the South is presented as a real problem in the draft text to be negotiated in Johannesburg. However, the historical relationship between the North and the South, which underlies this state of affairs, is ignored. Instead, the so-called Third World is being called upon to modernize, technologize and industrialize. The World Trade Organization, under whose aegis development is to be promoted, is leading the way.

The thesis that this so-called economization of the sustainability debate can hardly be reversed anymore finds more and more followers. The reservations at the beginning of the summit are therefore rough. While Greenpeace activists took to the grounds of a nuclear power plant in the north of Cape Town on Saturday in a spectacular action to unfurl protest banners, numerous representatives of discourse-determining institutions will stay away from the summit.

Economic globalization and the WTO regime will not be threatened by the sustainability debate.

Shalmali Guttal of the Bangkok-based institute Focus on the Global South sums up the concerns: "Because the consensus among the delegates is that there is nothing more to be said.

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