Campaign Launched To Combat WTO Assault On Last Remaining Forests
- June 29 - International forest protection leaders today announced a global campaign
to derail World Trade Organization (WTO) plans to write trade agreements that
will threaten the world's forests at the upcoming WTO Ministerial here this November.
"The WTO is a threat to forests around the world, and forest protection activists
around the world will work to stop it," said former US Congressman Jim Jontz,
now Executive Director of American Lands Alliance.
The campaign announcement followed a forest protection summit held outside Seattle
that included forty activists from fourteen countries. Representatives came from
forest products-exporting nations Indonesia, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand,
Canada, and Russia, where the bulk of the Earth's remaining old growth forests
are located, and from heavy forest products-using countries Japan, the United
States and the European Union. A wide range of Seattle-based forest protection
organizations also participated.
"With such diversity and depth of experience, we are confident of ending WTO measures
that will increase consumption of forest products without any regard for the well-being
of the environment," said conference organizer Victor Menotti of International
Forum on Globalization.
The organizations outlined regional problems in which proposed WTO trade initiatives
would exacerbate forest destruction, and developed strategies to preempt decisions
at the Seattle Ministerial. Each group will bring pressure to bear on the WTO,
from lobbying governments to demonstrations in the streets of Seattle.
"Seattle is a hotbed of forestry activism," said Paige Fischer of Pacific Environment
and Resources Center. "The WTO is coming here to sign deals that will fast-track
the destruction of the world's forests, so they can expect significant opposition."
A meeting of the gathered organizations developed the following position statement:
The WTO is bad for forests. Measures to expedite trade in forest products will
increase consumption without concurrently implementing conservation measures.
In the WTO, trade provisions are supreme over the laws of nations, taking power
away from local communities and governments and giving it to corporations. This
makes it a direct threat not only to the world's remaining forests, but also to
basic individual and states' rights. The WTO is fundamentally flawed because it
develops far-reaching policies without public participation. These policies are
prioritized only by their benefit to trade, without consideration for local economies,
the environment, labor and human rights. Before the WTO takes on any new powers,
or enacts any new provisions, each member government must step back and look at
how the WTO has helped or hurt its citizens and the world environment.
Organizations at the summit - from the USA unless otherwise indicated - included:
A SEED (UK), American Lands Alliance, Bureau for Regional Public Campaigning (Russia/Siberia),
Citizens Committee of Puerto Mott (Chile), Earth Justice Law Center, Forum on
the Environment (Indonesia), Friends of the Earth, GATT Watchdog (New Zealand),
International Forum on Globalization, Institute for Socio-Economic Analysis (Brazil),
Otway Foundation (Chile), Pacific Environment and Resources Center, Raincoast
Conservation Society (Canada), Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, Tropical
Forest Kyoto (Japan), Valhalla Wilderness Society (Canada), World Forest Movement
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