PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL / DAVOS, SWITZERLAND, 15 January , 2003 – Policy-makers world- wide have a real opportunity to start building a sustainable world by shifting the spotlight from corporate interests highlighted at the World Economic Forum (1) in Davos, Switzerland, (January 23-28) to the priorities emphasized by civil society representatives meeting here during the same days for the third World Social Forum (2), according to Friends of the Earth International.

The World Economic Forum paved the way for the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – both of which have been severely criticized for contributing to global inequality through their damaging impacts on poor communities and the environment.

Friends of the Earth International is the largest international grassroots environmental network participating in the third World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, from January 23 to 28, with some 50 delegates from every continent (main contact details below).

World Social Forum organisers announced that 30,000 delegates from some 5,000 organizations from 121 countries are registered to participate in WSF panels, seminars and workshops, and on the January 27th march against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Friends of the Earth participates in the World Social Forum because such’movement building’ is vital to formulate alternatives to neo-liberal economic globalization policies and to review ways to minimize the negative impact of a corporate-led globalization process.

The real challenge for humankind is to provide a decent quality of life for a predicted population of 10 billion people in the year 2050, whilst reducing environmental impacts to sustainable levels. Neo-liberal economic globalization is increasing the scale of that challenge. It is failing people in many different ways. Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) strongly disagrees with the line that ‘there is no alternative’ to business as usual under the neo-liberal economic globalization. (3)

In Davos, Friends of the Earth delegates take part in ‘The Public Eye on Davos’ counter-conference which has been organised with groups critical of the World Economic Forum. (4)

“Multinational companies involved in the World Economic Forum are abusing their economic power and political influence when they meet with politicians and government officials behind closed doors during the annual meeting in Davos,” said Friends of the Earth International Chair Ricardo Navarro today.

Existing national and international controls over the activities and lobbying of multinational corporations are inadequate to protect the environment or to meet the needs of societies around the world, according to Friends of the Earth International. FoEI believes that government and intergovernmental officials should agree not to participate in these closed Davos meetings.


please contact in Porto Alegre (January 23-28):

FoEI Chair, Ricardo Navarro: +55-51-92138163
FoEI Trade campaign coordinator, Ronnie Hall: +55-51-92138133
FoEI Biodiversity project coordinator, Simone Lovera: +55-51-92138130
FoEI Climate campaign coordinator, Kate Hampton: +55-51-92137596
FoEI Financial Institutions campaign coordinator, Johan Frijns: +55-51-92137597
Friends of the Earth Colombia, Tatiana Roa: +55-51-92138132
Friends of the Earth Uruguay, Karen Nansen: +55-51-92137595
Friends of the Earth Brazil, Lucia Schild Ortiz: +55-51-91150334

Press officers:
Niccolo Sarno (English, French, Spanish, Italian): +55-51-92138116
Elisangela Paim (Portuguese, Spanish): +55-51-98339181

In Davos please contact:
Miriam Behrens, Friends of the Earth Switzerland: +41 79 216 02 06
Matt Phillips, Friends of the Earth Corporates campaigner: +44 781 7314706

Friends of the Earth International is a federation of 68 non-governmental organizations that make up the world’s largest grassroots environmental network campaigning to protect the environment and to create sustainable societies. More information at www.foei.org

(1) In Davos the invited “community of top decision makers” – including
senior business leaders from corporations such as Nestle; Shell, Vivendi
Universal, British American Tobacco, BP, Nike and Tyumen Oil – will
benefit from “a unique club atmosphere” to talk to world leaders about the
way forward for the world, according to the World Economic Forum on-line –

(2) www.worldsocialforum.org

(3) more information in the FoEI publication ‘Towards Sustainable
Economies’ available at www.foei.org/publications/trade

(4) www.publiceyeondavos.ch