G8 meeting communiqué leaked to Council of Canadians
OTTAWA -- In another breach of G8 confidentiality, a draft of the communiqué to be released after this weekend's meeting of the Group of Eight environment ministers in Banff was leaked to the Council of Canadians yesterday.
The 1,694-word communiqué, called the Banff Ministerial Statement on the World Summit on Sustainable Development, spells out what principles should govern a major United Nations environment meeting in South Africa this August.
Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians, which opposes globalization, said the communique's wording suggests that G8 environment ministers have already decided that the crucial Johannesburg summit on the environment and development -- a follow-up to the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit -- will put corporate interests first.
"There's no plan of action. They are submerging environmental concerns and making it take a subordinate role to a larger agenda, the corporate and private-sector agenda," Ms. Barlow said.
The leak of the communiqué came one day after revelations that security details about the main G8 leaders' meeting, to be held this June in Kananaskis, Alta., were publicly available on the Internet.
Kelly Morgan, a spokeswoman for Environment Minister David Anderson, did not dispute the validity of the communiqué obtained by the Council of Canadians but played down its significance. She said a draft is circulated to G8 ministers for comment in advance of the meeting.
"The draft communiqué is just that: a draft," Ms. Morgan said. "This will be tweaked and pulled apart and discussed."
She said the final communiqué will reflect the views of diverse groups. She said Mr. Anderson and other G8 representatives are consulting with development and environmental organizations today before the official meeting begins. "The minister and others are going to be listening to their views, and . . . they will no doubt become part of their discussion in negotiating the communiqué."
The Council of Canadians is releasing the communiqué publicly today in order to elicit more commitments from G8 environment ministers meeting this weekend.
Ms. Barlow said she believes the communiqué, which calls for partnerships on water management, a "critical role" for the private sector in protecting the environment and "convergence" with trade and investment deals, is full of phrases and buzzwords that envision a major role for the private sector in environmental protection.
"For environment ministers to capitulate to this agenda entirely and subordinate an environmental agenda to trade and investment . . . will make Johannesburg a love-in for corporations," she said.
"Mark my words, the big water companies, the big food companies . . . they are going to be all over Johannesburg."
She noted the communiqué doesn't mention the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
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