Green Cross International position:
Proposals for the WSSD


Access to water:
Inadequate sanitation, permanent degradation of the quality of water, and non-access to water lifeblood of all human and natural systems_ diminish the quality of human life and contribute to human insecurity. Water scarcity and unsafe water have direct repercussions on populations, exacerbating poverty, wrecking havoc on health, and even causing conflicts as people may be forced to fight over this precious resource, or move to another region or country thus exerting pressure on bordering nations. Transboundary water should lead to co-operation between affected countries rather than tensions in their relations. Funds should be mobilized to guarantee the realisation of the human right of access to safe drinking water for all people.

The World Summit should launch the negotiation process for a new global code of ethics to guide human behaviour and decision making related to sustainable development issues and to inspire a positive vision for the new Millenium. To this end, the Earth Charter is a document that embodies fundamental values and principles and should be considered as an efficient tool to diffuse ethical considerations to people and throughout Nations. Efforts should converge on the essential task of linking globalisation, sustainable development and ethics. Global environmental issues need to be clearly reframed in the context of a new Global Deal, in order to consider related questions of justice, poverty, exclusion, democracy, peace, security, values and human rights and in order to adopt a truly integrated approach to sustainable development. In this context, good governance consists of an essential step to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication. - Visit the Earth Dialogues website.

Environmental education elements should be included in education programmes during school years, as well as at higher levels of education. Development of learning programmes on sustainable development is absolutely essential, but environmental principles should not be taught separately from the other disciplines; they must be fully integrated in education systems to be an effective tool to sensitise and mobilise future generations. Values and principles should spread through education because today's youth is the thinking force of tomorrow and have the possibility to construct a sustainable future.

Environmental Legacy of Wars and Conflicts, and Relief Operations:
Special attention should be given to the environmental legacy of wars, the clean-up of military bases, and the destruction of chemical and nuclear weapons in accordance with international conventions. The Chemical Weapons Convention has met great difficulties in implementation and has so far failed to eliminate much of the chemical weapons threat; the Summit should call for the full destruction of such weapons as a necessary prerequisite for global security. The continued presence of the nuclear, chemical and conventional remnants of wars, including the Cold War, in the soil and water in many regions plagues health and development for years, even generations, after the conflict has ended.

In the case of armed conflict, environmental rehabilitation should be carried-out under the framework of humanitarian assistance. Following a war or conflict, direct human impacts rightly receive the most immediate attention from the international community; it must be stressed that environmental consequences, especially contamination, can be the cause of both long and short-term suffering of local populations. How to construct a sustainable future on contaminated land? International humanitarian relief operations should therefore include both the human and the environmental dimension.

Deforestation is one of the most acute environmental problems for Africa. African economic resources, essentially agricultural, are based on the exploitation of natural resources and land. Heavy trade in wood products, the population explosion and the debt crisis allow African countries no hope for rational management of forests and biodiversity. Conservation, rehabilitation and protection of forests need the commitment of development partners and of the international community. It is not the desert that is expanding in Africa, but rather the forest that is disappearing.

Debt relief:
Issues such as degradation of tropical forests, desertification or poor garbage management in big African cities cripple African populations. In spite of their political willingness, African states lack resources to face up to these big environmental challenges. More than half the resources of Africa are devoted to the repayment of external debts. The international community should give a chance to African populations by cancelling debts in favor of environmental management solutions.

Climate Change and Energy
The phenomenon of climate change threatens the health and future of society. We need binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions and other GHGs immediately. We must encourage developed societies to create an economy no longer based on fossil fuels and move toward a renewable energy based economy to power our buildings, transportation, and industry; furthermore, energy conservation and efficiency must be encouraged in all sectors. Developing countries should receive significant financial and technical assistance to use cleaner sources of energy through conservation, efficiency, and renewables. Without adequate strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and prevent future emissions, we will be doomed to tremendous disruptions in terms of migration, access to water, desertification and other drastic results of climate change that also destabilize sovereign nations and allow fundamentalism to prosper.

Built Environment:
We must recognize that 40% of the world's energy and resources are used to construct and maintain our buildings and homes. In order to promote sustainable development, all future construction and rehabilitation of buildings should adhere to standards that promote "green building" so as to create healthier, higher performance structures that are also lower in cost to operate and maintain. Doing so will allow us to ensure more efficient use of natural resources (e.g., wood, water, etc.), improve public health (e.g., lower toxicity in homes and workplaces), improve productivity (e.g., workers, students, etc.), reduce energy use (e.g., efficiency, conservation, renewable energy), and lessen the impact upon the impoverished (e.g., reduce destruction of indigenous communities where resources are extracted, lower energy bills for low-income families in developed nations, etc.).

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