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Friday, January 24, 2003

Friends of the Earth today issued a challenge to world leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) to deliver real measures to ensure corporate accountability for the people they represent. Tony Juniper, Director of Friends of the Earth in England, Wales + Northern Ireland, and Silva Semadeni, President of Friends of the Earth Switzerland, called on politicians at the Forum to look beyond the greenwash put out by business at the World Economic Forum and deliver on their commitment to global rules for business, made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, just five months ago.

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January 2002, Friends of the Earth challenged chief executives to comment on whether they favoured global rules for multinationals or not. A personal letter was passed to named individuals and an easy-to-use fax-back form provided.

The WEF in 2002 saw more commentary about the importance of dialogue. Warmed by the spirit of dialogue, 17 CEOs took the time to respond to the question. 1,170 were not warmed by the spirit of dialogue and did not bother.

Of the 17 who responded, 10 took the opportunity did not actually respond to the question but to provide instead glossy documents on their claimed social and environmental performance.

Of the 7 who actually did answer the question, 2 were in favour of binding global rules for corporations, 2 against + 3 three interested in hearing more.

Tony Juniper said today...
So much for dialogue. We conclude business leaders only want to be involved in a discussion when they decide the questions. This reminds us too much of the experience of those communities struggling to protect their livelihoods and local environments confronted by meaningless ‘stakeholder dialogues’. The business agenda is clear – voluntarism instead of binding rules, but we’re not going to admit we think so.”