WRM Declaration to the World Summit on Sustainable Development
The WSSD and Forests
Ten years after the Earth Summit, governments will be meeting again in
Johannesburg, in an apparent effort to find and implement solutions to
address the increasing social and environmental problems which are
affecting the planet and its peoples.
Contrary to what happened ten years ago, there is a generalised feeling of
despair among forest activists regarding the outcome of this summit. The
reason is simple: during these past years both the social and
environmental situation have worsened as a result of governments -- North
and South -- failing to address the issue. On the contrary, they have
worked hand in hand -- willingly or unwillingly -- with multilateral
institutions to ensure the opening up of the world's resources to
increased corporate exploitation and control.
This is particularly true of tropical forests. The result of governments
agreeing to facilitate -- and even beg for -- transnational investments in
order to ensure external debt repayment has been poverty generation and
environmental destruction. 
Infrastructure developments such as roads, hydroelectric dams, gas and oil
pipelines have been high on the government-corporate agenda, in many cases
imposed and at the same time facilitated by multilateral institutions such
as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Latin
American, African and Asian multilateral banks.
The beneficiaries have been industrial logging, mining, oil and gas
exploitation, large-scale commercial agriculture, cattle-raising, timber,
pulpwood and oil palm plantations and shrimp farming. These industries
then themselves constitute a second wave of attack against forests and
forest peoples.
Governments know that. Multilateral and bilateral institutions, too. Even
corporations know it. The causes of tropical deforestation are well-known
to all the parties involved. Yet the  causes of forest loss are not only
not addressed. Those responsible are given even more support. 
The world has reached a point where governments, multilateral institutions
and corporate declarations and commitments have become impossible to
believe in any more. Things continue to go in precisely the wrong
direction. A few examples:
- IMF structural adjustment programmes --acknowledged as an underlying
cause of deforestation-- continue to be implemented.
- A new World Bank forest policy is now set to increase logging in the
- The World Trade Organization now imposes its rules over multilateral
environmental agreements, which will result in further forest destruction.
- Corporate investment in logging, mining, oil and gas exploitation is
increasing, resulting in deforestation and widespread forest degradation.
- Northern governments show little willingness to find equitable solutions
to issues such as unfair terms of trade and external debt, forcing
Southern governments to exploit natural resources unsustainably.
- Northern governments prove themselves equally unwilling to address the
issue of climate change -- which itself will impact heavily on forest
biodiversity -- through the reduction of fossil fuel emissions, instead
promoting the spread of "carbon sink" tree plantations that will result in
further replacement of forests. 
- Southern governments show themselves unwilling to acknowledge in law the
territorial rights of indigenous and other forest-dependent peoples, which
could be a first step in curbing forest loss.
- Southern governments decline to implement land reform in agricultural
areas as a solution to landless peasant migration to forest areas.
Even worse, the WSSD process appears to have been highjacked by
corporations, which have been able to present themselves as part of the
solution in spite of the fact that they constitute a major part of the
problem. Instead of being controlled by governments, they are now
apparently to become "partners" in sustainable development. 
From a forest perspective, it is sufficient to see which are the
corporations that are willing to establish "partnerships" to know the end
of the story. The corporate leaders in the WSSD process include: Rio Tinto
(destructive mining in forest areas), Shell (destructive drilling in
forest areas), Aracruz Celulose (monoculture "green deserts" in rainforest
areas in Brazil at the expense of indigenous peoples' lands), and
UPM-Kymmene (forest destruction in Indonesia linked to pulp production).
The World Rainforest Movement therefore declares that for governments and
relevant international institutions to become credible regarding their
commitment to forest conservation, they should at least provide some
evidence of political will to change track by publicly stating the need
- Recognition of indigenous and other forest peoples's territorial rights.
- Agricultural land reform.
- A moratorium on external debt repayment.
- A legal international instrument for corporate control.
- Equitable North-South trade relations.
- Decreasing overconsumption in the North.
- Profound reform of multilateral institutions (IMF, World Bank, regional
banks) to put them at the service of people and the environment.
- Moratorium on oil, gas and mining activities in tropical forest areas.
If some of the above were taken up by the WSSD, forest activists would be
given new hope and flock to its support. The failure to adopt such
measures, on the other hand, will mean the UN system has accepted
corporate over democratic rule. 
World Rainforest Movement, August 2002
International Secretariat
Maldonado 1858; Montevideo, Uruguay
E-Mail: wrm@wrm.org.uy
Web page: http://www.wrm.org.uy
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