Abstract

This article provides a first-hand account of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and an analysis of how to advance environmentalist concerns in the post-Jo'burg era. It reviews some of the achievements and disappointments of the Summit and describes significant changes in global environmental affairs that the WSSD was unable fully to appreciate and which, therefore, must be addressed in the post-Jo'burg world. One change is a switch in emphasis in the North and South in terms of sustainable development. For too long we've been told that the North is concerned with the environment while the South is focused on development. At the WSSD it became clear, however, that this is no longer the case. Many in the North now claim a development focus although, to be sure, through the more fundamental goal of economic globalization. Concomitantly, many in the South voice a commitment to environmental sustainability as a way to reduce poverty. A second change has to do with the power of environmentalism. After enjoying much strength, concern for the environment is flagging throughout much of the world as key states find themselves distracted by geo-political concerns in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. Both changes indicate the need to rethink environmentalist strategies in a post-Jo'burg era. The article offers several suggestions including abandoning sustainable development as a policy objective (although keeping it as a conceptual framework) and resuscitating the older, more narrow and arguably less complicated goals of environmental protection.

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