|'There is evidence of a compelling desire and demand among people
everywhere for action to address the social, economic and environmental
concerns affecting many regions of the world.'
Some of these exchanges take place in formal government arenas. Others,
partly prompted by pressures from shareholders, employees and customers,
are happening in industry, both within and among firms. Similarly, NGOs
(including many that have a multinational presence) are reflecting upon
their roles and missions. There are also fresh attempts to collaborate
across the governmental, industrial and NGO sectors. In total, however,
these efforts pale by comparison with the myriad dialogues between individuals
and small groups of interested citizens within and across regions.
Much of this desire for remedial action is expressed in and around the
lobbies of international activities, including the WSSD and other United
Nations conferences, meetings of the G7/G8 group of nations, at the negotiations
of the WTO and multilateral environmental agreements, and at meetings
on specific social and environmental issues, such as climate change and
At times, the formal events are overshadowed by parallel gatherings.
For the most part, the mood of these gatherings is peaceable, akin to
that of the Global Forum linked to the 1992 Earth Summit. Less in evidence
are the anti-globalization protests seen at the meetings of the WTO in
Seattle in 1999 and the G8 in Genoa in 2001. Their goal is to highlight
the advances that are being made and to shape the agenda of the governmental
meetings. There is greater emphasis on presenting the positive aspects
of a societal transformation rather than the negative consequences of
inaction. Over time, increasing numbers of representatives from industry
and governments participate in these encounters, making them more successful
in achieving this goal.