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Friday, January 17, 2003

Friends of the Earth has issued a press release highlighting the risk of next week's World Economic Forum "greenwashing" the activities of corporations that have already demonstrated their unwillingness to embrace sustainability if it gets in the way of more profits... despite high profile social + environmental responsibility pledges made at last year's WEF in New York.

See here for FoE's examples, such as: (a) German bank Westdeutsche Landesbank's activities in the Ecuadorian Mindo-Nambillo cloudforest, (b) Alfa Group [includes Tyumen Oil + Crown Resources] (the oil that spilt off the Galician coast was from an ageing tanker chartered by wholly-owned subsidiary Crown Resources) + (c) Petronas who took over Premier Oil’s entire Burmese operation when the company was split up even though the Burmese Democracy Movement had called on multinationals to stop operating in Burma because they fear resulting profits help keep the country's military in power, as well as lending the regime credibility.

While the WEF guests (mostly senior business + government leaders) hold private discussions, representatives from non-governmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth International, and representatives from developing + developed countries have decided to present an alternative vision at a public forum called the Public Eye on Davos, just a few blocks away...

As an indication of the thrust of this alternative vision Tony Juniper, vice chair of Friends of the Earth International has said:

“The World Economic Forum's slogan this year is ‘Building Trust’ yet many of its participants are chief executives of the companies responsible for the very worst ravages of corporate globalisation. It is a bitter irony that many people cannot swallow. How can Galician fisherfolk trust the corporations which participate in the WEF that have damaged their environment + livelihoods?

“If politicians at the World Economic Forum are serious about improving the state of the world, they should accept Friends of the Earth International's challenge and support a global regime to curb corporate power, with guaranteed rights for citizens + communities, and protection for the environment where we all live. We will also ask politicians to call the bluff on corporate greenwash.”

The World Economic Forum takes place from Thursday 23rd January until Tuesday 28th while the Public Eye on Davos International Conference takes place from Thursday 23rd January until Monday 27th.

I'll obviously do my best to keep abreast of developments at both meetings...