23-27 JUNE, 1997


Hear No Good.     See No Good.    Speak No Good.

Five years after the Rio Earth Summit, world leaders and diplomats met at a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly to review what progress had been made on the agenda set in Rio.

To say the results were not good is an understatement. The meeting ended in deadlock, symbolised by its failure to agree to a Political Statement*.

The President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia, freely admitted to an expectant world that governments had failed to deliver on their promises and that it was now up to non-governmental organisations and grassroots movements to intensify their own efforts and to increase pressure on governments to act for positive change.

On the bright side...

What the meeting DID achieve was to bring together the global community of environmental and developmental groups who showed great vitality in their workshops, discussions, networking and campaign planning.

This renewed vitality must be harnessed to a
in the years ahead if we are to stop the slide, let alone see any improvement in the world environment.

Dismantlement on the Internet is one such movement.

*The failure to agree on a common Political Statement is a reflection of the fact that the political gap between North and South has widened, not narrowed, since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.

The world expected action after Rio, and the Political Statement was meant to reassure the public that the shortfalls of the past five years would be made up by concerted, unified action. After three attempts at drafting a statement which both the developed North and the developing South could agree to, the exercise was abandoned.

What we can learn from the
New York Earth Summit, and more
recently from the Kyoto Conference,
is that no government is ever going to deliver
a better world. It's up to us as individuals to put the
screws on and to dismantle what needs dismantling ourselves.


"It's an abdication of responsibility and a tremendously squandered opportunity"

Clifton Curtis, Greenpeace

* * * * *

"The Rio agreements were rightly hailed as a major success,
but the promises made there have been betrayed in New York this week."

Gordon Shepherd, World Wildlife Fund

* * * * *

"What we have witnessed in the five years after Rio has been a nearly complete halt
to international dialogue on environment and sustainable development."

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe

* * * * *

"For the first time, we have recognised the limitations of our promises.
The bane of international cooperation is that governments cannot maintain commitments
- not just on resources, but on doing things over the long haul."

Razali Ismail, President of the General Assembly

* * * * *

More about Rio from an informed visitor to the site

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