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JUNE 29, 1999  1:12 PM
Rainforest Action Network
Mark Westlund, RAN --
Robin Denburg, APEX --
206-427-5128; 206-324-5675
World-Wide Campaign Launched To Combat WTO Assault On Last Remaining Forests
SEATTLE - 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 (UK).


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