Johannesburg, September 1, 2002 – A giant installation of sculpture and sound called “hear our voice” was unveiled today to illustrate the need for governments to introduce binding rules for multinationals. Friends of the Earth International installed this “art action” only few meters away from the main entrance of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. [1]

The installation consists of 6,000 biodegradable statues representing the diverse voices of people struggling to defend their lives, their communities and their environment and a ‘soundscape’ representing the voice of the people. [2] The statues face one giant metal statue symbolising the unbridled power of the big corporations with logos from multinationals such as Exxon and Monsanto.

“This installation reflects how the corporations are becoming the rulers of the world, with the complicity of governments,” said today Salvadorean Friends of the Earth International chair Ricardo Navarro.

Friends of the Earth has been collecting thousands of messages in a global three-month campaign under the slogan “don t let big business rule the world” and the statues represent these demands by civil society worldwide. [3]

” Despite big companies’ green public relations efforts, for many companies sustainable development means business as usual. Without global rules to check this behaviour, the environment is not going to figure on the corporate bottom line – and it would be naïve to expect otherwise,” said Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth International Vice-Chair.

Launched as world leaders gather for the Earth Summit, the art installation illustrates how even some of the top international companies who claim to be developing sustainable policies, are still causing major damage to the planet.

Friends of the Earth International is calling for world leaders meeting Johannesburg to introduce global rules for business, to protect people and the environment. “We demand that governments listen to the voice of the ordinary people of Africa and the rest of the world,” said Bobby Peek of Friends of the Earth South Africa / GroundWork.

Daniel Mittler, Earth Summit coordinator for Friends of the Earth International today revealed that a leading transnational corporation with a poor social and environmental record (and one of the world’s largest mining companies) Anglo-American Plc, is a major funder of the Johannesburg Earth Summit. [4]

[1] The UN World Summit on Sustainable Development takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26th August to 4th September 2002.

[2] The statues were produced by local deprived communities. For more information contact Donald Pols at +27 72-2966 740. Pictures in printable quality and details of the installation available.

[3] Messages were collected via actions in 15 countries via the internet.

[4] Friends of the Earth today published a briefing which reveals that the company is planning an extensive new copper mine in Peru against the wishes of much of local community who fear will leave them without water and damage their local economy and agricultural resources – despite the claims of the mining industry to have cleaned up its act. Anglo’s record in Zambia and South Africa has been heavily criticised. The company is presently facing a case under the OECD guidelines on multinational enterprises over its Zambian operations. Yet executives from the company have managed to secure close influence with governments – one is on the official UK Johannesburg delegation.

Contacts in Johannesburg:
Ricardo Navarro, Friends of the Earth International(FoEI) Chair +27 72 4015392
Tony Juniper, FoEI Vice-Chair +27 72 40115393
Bobby Peek, GroundWork +27 82 4641383
Daniel Mittler, FoEI Earth Summit coordinator +27 72 4015394

Media officers:
Ian Willmore +27 72 4015386
Eugene Van Haaren +27 72 4015389