author: Linda Kaucher - 01.09.2002 20:11
At the Rio + 10 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the WTO agenda and particularly the Doha 'development round' have become incorporated in the Rio +10 text, and program. For instance the services needed by the developing world will be offered as privatised services, under the General Agreement in Trade in Services (GATS) and environmental protection for sustainability is being translated into business opportunities for multinationals.
The Rio + 10 workshop, with presentations from ASEED and Corporate Watch Observatory explored how the 'sustainable development' concept was taken over , 'greenwash' - how corporations use public relations to 'green ' their image, including having eg a (very small) sustainable energy division , and 'bluewash', i.e.s corporations associating themselves with, through 'partnerships', and thus prostituting, the UN.
Corporations are providing the money that the UN itself doesn't have, particularly in view of the US non-payment of its dues.
'Consultations' with NGO's are used by corporations to deflect criticism, and there is an issue of whether NGO's should be allowing themselves to be used like this, for the sake of any difference they may be able to make, or if, like the mining NGO caucus has with the WSSD, they should boycott any such involvement. There is also the question of how we react to NGO's that appear to go along with these processes in Johannesburg, Greenpeace has made an agreement with 60 corporations to pressure Bush in regard to the Kyoto Protocol.
The WSSD is supposed to review countries' progress since the Rio conference. The direction that the process has taken is that 'type 1' - government commitments - haven't worked , so now leave it to 'type 2' -partnerships with corporations. Though there is some resistance to this within some UN agencies, this is the view that is being promoted by the UN leadership.
The workshop discussed whether the UN could ever work effectively , and whether its up to people to reclaim it. The civil society Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue process at the WSSD is worse than useless. What is said is ignored, but it serves to legitimise what's going on
Personal decisions to live in an environmentally sustainable way are not, in themselves likely to counteract of the corporate takeover of the world. Changes that will make a difference with sustainability e.g. transport planning, are political decisions.
Corporations may not be averse to switches to other fuel sources, and may be forced to, but want to be in control of how and when the changes occur so that their profit flows are not interrupted.
Some ways forward: