Arrested development at World Summit

 The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg has concluded with a lame agreement that contains only modest gains for the poor and our planet, CAFOD said last night. The agency's Head of Policy George Gelber said: "The Johannesburg Summit is a major disappointment. Key texts on renewable energy were eviscerated by a combination of oil consumers and producers with the US taking a leading role. Commitments without tangible goals or deadlines are virtually meaningless. How are we to judge whether, as the new text says, a sense of urgency has been brought to bear in increasing the share of renewable energy resources? "Agreements on fisheries and sanitation saved the Summit from being a complete tragedy but it remains deeply unconvincing. Only those who feared the worst can now describe it as a step in the right direction." In a statement CAFOD said the Johannesburg meeting adds little to the two key global meetings of the last 12 months - the World Trade Organisation Summit in Doha, which set the world trade agenda for the next three years and the Financing for Development meeting in Monterrey which squeezed promises of an additional $12 billion a year in aid from the EU and the US. Gelber said: "It is far from clear that vague and conditional commitments of Doha to "phase out" agricultural subsidies - crucial for developing countries - will be acted upon or that the additional aid will materialise. Depressing as it may seem, the task of activists and developing country governments will be to ensure that the modest commitments of Doha and Monterrey are met. "The achievements of Johannesburg are a dim reflection of all the high-flown rhetoric of world leaders and the Summit's own ambitions. The United States, with its two cars per family, has principally blocked agreement on the difficult steps that are needed to achieve the 2015 Millennium Target of halving the world's poor - and of doing this in a world that relies less on fossil fuels." CAFOD is also disappointed that there was neither a reflection in Summit texts that adjustment to globalisation has enormous costs for the very poor, nor was there agreement on the part of the richest nations, which benefit most from globalisation, that they should make more resources available, in aid and debt relief, to reduce poverty.

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