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Frames No Frame




Joan Veon



The cover of the newest TIME magazine which features a frog says it all, “How to Preserve the Planet and Make This a Green Century.”Here at the World Summit for Social Development, thirteen thousand delegates from 190 countries and representatives from nine major groups such as the G77, European Union, OPEC, Contact Group on Water and Sanitation, Caribbean Community, etc. are meeting to discuss and hammer out strategy for the 21st Century.


The very modern and well-equipped Convention Center here in Johannesburg has ample space for three plenary rooms where the delegates to the conference, representatives from the major Groups and non-governmental organizations are meeting.In addition, there are numerous smaller rooms for all kinds of meetings and workshops from all kinds of groups and organizations.


The flurry of activity makes one think it is finals week at a major university.Everyone who is anyone in the world with regard to the United Nations, its vast infrastructure of agencies and committees as well empowered governmental advisers; CEO’s from major interested multinational corporations and close to 700 non-governmental organizations are here.


The tone is decidedly “communistic” as President Thabo Mbeki and World Summit for Social Development Secretary-General Nitsin Desai invoked words like “solidarity” and“transfer of wealth.”Another well worn phrase is a “reinvigoration of international solidarity and partnership.”Meanwhile the attitude of many non-governmental organizations is blatantly militaristic.


Major side and parallel meetings include: The Global People’s Forum which brings together the 700 NGO’s to discuss the same points in the document as the delegates and the Science Forum which is a partnership between the South African Department of Science and Technology along with the International Council for Science and the World Federation of Engineering organizations.


Duly elected congressmen and senators from all over the world meet to discuss key global issues at the Parliamentarians for Global Action-PGA.The fact that they meet in plenary fashion comprises, in essence, a “global parliament” of their own.These key individuals push though global issues in their own countries that support the United Nations and its agenda.In the U.S. while Congresswoman Constance Morella and Congressman James Leach have been extremely active, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, George Miller, James Greenwood and Earl Blumenauer along former governor of California Jerry Brown who is now mayor of Oakland, will participate.Here in Johannesburg, PGA will concentrate on Clean Air and Clean Water that will bring together members of parliaments from over 100 countries with leading environmental experts, NGOs and business leaders.


Another major meeting is The World Business Council for Sustainable Development begun in 1991 to get businesses involved in the Rio Earth Summit.CEO’s of General Motors, Cargill, Dow Chemical, DaimlerChrysler, Shell, Conoco and Sony are just some of the 160 corporations that are incorporating sustainable development into all of their manufacturing processes and corporate philosophies.Some of the projects which they are involved in include:market-driven mechanisms for countering global warming and reducing dependence on carbon fuels and how to cut water wastage and urge greater acceptance of public-private partnerships in supply water and natural resources to the general public. They feel that the only hope for sustainability is to change forms of consumption.To do so, they say, “we must innovate” through dialogues with NGOs and new partnerships.


Then there is IUCN that has over 75 countries as members, 100 governmental agencies and over 800 non-governmental organizations.The Union is a web of partnerships to manage and restore ecosystems and threatened species.Their objective is to emphasize the role of the environment, sustainable resource management and biodiversity conservation in sustainable development.They are sponsoring a weeklong conference called “Futures Dialogue”.On Tuesday, there was a formal presentation at the IUCN of the Earth Charter proclaiming the “architecture of the New International Order” which refers to man’s relationship to nature and Mother Earth and a pagan centered value system often referred to by Mikhail Gorbachev as a “new set of Commandments” to replace those given to Moses by God.


Lastly, I am told the word “shrek” as in the movie means “terror.”I wonder if there is a connection?