The Jo'Burg Memo

The Memo suggests an agenda for equity and ecology for the next decade. Key points come under headings: Rio in Retrospect appraises the 10 years since the Rio Conference, which launched a number of successful institutional processes, but without result. Economic globalisation has largely washed away gains made on the micro level, spreading an ex-ploitative economy and exposing natural resources in the South, and in Russia, to the pull of the world market.

The Johannesburg Agenda identifies four themes which should run through all the debates at the Summit. The critical question is this: what does fairness mean within a finite environmental space? Fairness calls for increasing the rights of the poor to their habitats, and cutting back the claims of the rich to resources.

Livelihood Rights counters the conventional wisdom that poverty eradication is at odds with environmental care. On the contrary, livelihoods cannot be maintained unless access to land, seeds, forests, grasslands, fishing grounds, and water is secured. Moreover, pollution of air, soils, water, and food chronically undermines the physical health of the poor, especially in cities. Thus environmental protection is the condition of poverty elimination.

Fair Wealth: the global environ-mental space is unequally divided; obtaining more resource rights for the low consumers in the world implies reducing the resource claims of excessive consumers in North and South. This is a matter of justice as much as ecology. Governance for Ecology & Equity proposes changes in institutional frameworks at the international level for strengthening environmental stewardship and livelihood rights.

A framework convention on the resource rights of local communities would consolidate the rights of the inhabitants of areas whose livelihoods are threatened by mining oil, logging, and other extractive industries. Environmental rights ñ including the right to full information, consumer rights, and the precautionary principles of prevention and polluter pays ñ must be enshrined into law. Market prices must reflect environmental costs. Full cost accounting requires the removal of environmentally perverse subsidies as well as tax reform, where taxes are shifted from labour to resource consumption, pollution, and waste. Full cost accounting also requires user fees for the global commons, in particular the atmosphere, the sky and the seas. Full cost pricing will ensure that economic decisions are made with minimal environmental impacts. International trade rÈgimes must foster sustainability and fairness. WTO-style market liberalisation threatens social coherence and ecosystems, and undermines food security. Free trade must be subservient to the larger causes of human rights and sustainability, giving nations opportunities to regulate trade for the public good. Environmental treaties must have priority over trade agreements. A framework of socially accountable production is called for, whose principles apply to all commercial activities. The global financial system should be over-hauled with a speculative currency exchange tax, debt relief and expanded electronic cross-border barter trade.

Institutional Innovations. A new historical agenda must be embedded in new institutions. UNEP must be upgraded into a World Environment Organisation. A decentralised Inter-national Renewable Energy Agency must be established. Finally, the Memorandum argues in favour of an International Court of Arbitration.
FURTHER INFORMATION : For full Jo’burg Memo Contact: Heinrich Boll Foundation, Hackeschehofe, Rosenthaler Str. 40/41, 10178 Berlin. Tel: 0049 302 85340 Fax: 0049 302 34109
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