Environment rises up investment treaty agenda

NGOs boycott consultation meeting for OECD treaty, challenge industry lobby

Environmental issues are gaining increased prominence in talks to draw up a treaty on investment due to be adopted in April by ministers from the OECD - the Paris-based club of developed countries. Following a meeting last week, the chairman of the negotiations said environmental and labour issues had taken up half its time. It is still far from clear what environmental provisions will be included in the treaty and several issues are to be put to a high-level meeting in February. NGOs, which last year vowed to undermine political support for the treaty (ENDS Daily 29 October 1997), are still unhappy. They boycotted a scheduled consultation meeting with treaty negotiators saying that none of their previous demands had been taken on board. Meanwhile, an industry coalition including the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has called on negotiators not to accept "new proposals for more specific language on the environment" in the treaty. The WorldWide Fund for Nature responded that the WBCSD's participation in the statement would be viewed as a "litmus test" for its commitment to sustainable development.

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