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Canadians Heading to Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable Development Demand World Leaders Make Good on Environment and Development Commitments

News Release

For Immediate Release: Tuesday August 20, 2002

Canadians Heading to Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable Development Demand World Leaders Make Good on Environment and Development Commitments

Ottawa--As world leaders meet in Johannesburg, South Africa for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), they will be faced with two options: Make good on the commitments made ten years ago at the United Nations 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, or seek the comfort of compromise with the lowest common position thereby missing out on a tremendous opportunity and pushing us further down the road to increased poverty and environmental degradation.

Ten years ago much faith was put into the Rio Summit. It was the largest gathering of world leaders in history and at the time the Summit and its process were viewed as successes. The action outcome know as "Agenda 21" and covering such areas as changing consumption patters, protecting sustainable agriculture and combating poverty, was agreed to by more than 178 governments. "Unfortunately" says Gerry Barr President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, "in the ten years since Rio, little progress has been made. And the cruelest irony is that the poor must bear the brunt of climate change while the United States and Canada, which emit 30% of all greenhouse gases, refuse to act."

However, with Prime Minister Jean Chrétien scheduled to attend the Summit, the WSSD can be an opportunity for Canada to begin to re-establish its reputation on environment and development issues. "After ten years of inaction, it would be refreshing if in Johannesburg, Prime Minister Chrétien showed that Canada cared. A good first step would be committing to adopt the Kyoto Protocol"says Peter Tabuns Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada.

"At the Rio Summit, Canada led the world on environmental issues, but a decade of inaction has left our environmental reputation in tatters. Canada can remedy this by implementing the commitments made ten years ago in Rio", says Laura Telford, Manager of the Canadian Nature Federation’s Endangered Species Program.

"It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on keeping our international commitments and promises…Johannesburg is a wonderful place to start," says Julie Larsen of the United Nations Association in Canada. But it is only a start. We must also ensure that the commitments made are in fact implemented. We call on the Canadian government to have the political will to turn words into action.

For more information contact:

Katia Gianneschi
Media Relations
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
(613) 241-7007 ext. 311
katiag@ccic.ca

 

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