January 25, 2001 – On the opening day of the World Economic Forum annual meeting at the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, Friends of the Earth International said that there should be a halt to further measures to liberalise the world economy. The World Economic Forum is a private organisation for business leaders that has been at the forefront of proposals to promote economic globalisation. Campaigners today said that more globalisation would threaten the environment and mainly benefit the already wealthy.

The global environmental federation said that reforms to free trade rules, the introduction of tight standards to govern the activities of transnational corporations and a reversal to financial liberalisation, must all precede further discussions about stimulating growth through economic deregulation.

Friends of the Earth said that climate change, destruction of biological diversity, the decline of natural resources like fisheries and the widening gap between rich and poor were all linked to policies to promote international competitiveness, increase short term growth in GDP and foreign direct investment.

Campaigners particularly criticised the secretive nature of the World Economic Forum and demanded more openess in discussions that will repercussions for citizens world wide.

Tony Juniper, Vice Chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: “It is not right that 2000 company chief executives and the politicians and public officials that they have invited here should discuss the direction of the world economy in secret. The ramifications of proposals that come from Davos meetings have in the past been profound and probably will be in the future too. Protection of the environment and socially just development are not on the agenda and won’t be until ordinary citizens have a real voice. We are here to make sure that the real issues are debated before it is too late”.

Tony Juniper Friends of the Earth International +44 7712 843 207
Miriam Behrens Friends of the Earth Switzerland +41 79 216 02 06