The Guardian August 28, 2002

Letter to Bush

Dear President Bush,

We write to thank you and express our support for the positions you have 
taken on the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development in 
Johannesburg. We applaud your decision not to attend the summit in person. 
Although so-called environmental groups may in the next few weeks pressure 
you to attend, we believe there are good reasons not to give in to this 

Even more than the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, the Johannesburg Summit 
will provide a global media stage for many of the most irresponsible and 
destructive elements involved in critical international economic and 
environmental issues.

Your presence would only help to publicise and make more credible their 
various anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalisation, and anti-Western 

We support your insistence, conveyed in the preparatory discussions leading 
up to the summit by Under Secretary Dobriansky, that one of the key 
conditions for sustainable development is good national governance.

The sad fact is that many of the poorest "developing" nations are not 
developing at all.

Their people are mired in poverty and environmental degradation largely 
because of oppressive and incompetent government.

The World Summit may be considered successful if it follows your lead and 
proposes ways to encourage building government institutions based on the 
rule of law and that respect people's civil rights, including the right to 

In this regard, your proposal to base new foreign aid on the recipient 
nation's progress in improving its own governance is most welcome, and we 
hope it will be adopted by other donor nations.

Most foreign aid over the past five decades has been wasted by incompetent 
and corrupt governments, and much of it has been counter-productive because 
it has been used to prop up brutal, rapacious regimes.

We also strongly support your opposition to signing new international 
environmental treaties or creating new international environmental 
organisations at the Johannesburg Summit.

In our view, the worst possible outcome at Johannesburg would be taking any 
steps towards creating a World Environmental Organisation, as the European 
Union has suggested.

As Under Secretary Dobriansky and Assistant Secretary Turner have argued, 
signing more treaties and creating more international bureaucracies does 
not address the shortcomings of existing treaties and organisations.

World Bank studies have concluded that there is a direct correlation 
between national prosperity and environmental quality and that 
environmental conditions improve rapidly as poor nations become wealthier.

What will therefore create the conditions necessary for sustainable 
development is implementing policies that lead to economic growth. This is 
not what entrenched international environmental interests want to hear, and 
so we congratulate you for your courage in making the case for global 
economic growth.

Of the specific environmental issues on the Johannesburg agenda, you have 
correctly identified the lack of clean drinking water as the greatest 
environmental obstacle for hundreds of millions of people around the world 
to achieving sustainable development.

Any progress that can be made on addressing this critical issue at the 
summit will be most welcome.

Conversely, the least important global environmental issue is potential 
global warming, and we hope that your negotiators at Johannesburg can keep 
it off the table and out of the spotlight.

We understand that there will be determined opposition at Johannesburg from 
the international status quo to adopting the enlightened and progressive 
policies you have proposed.

We want you to know that you can count on our support for the determined 
efforts you and your administration are making to change direction on these 
critical global issues.


Signed by 31 groups and individuals  for full list of signatories visit:

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