February 5, 2002 – Friends of the Earth International today called on members of the World Economic Forum (WEF) leaving the annual meeting in New York to urgently respond to the challenge of global business accountability – and meet their social and environmental responsibilities.

Despite five days of discussions on “Leadership in Fragile Times: A Vision for a Shared Future”, attended by government and business leaders, the meeting failed to tackle the key question of how business will adapt to meet the pressing need for corporate accountability and a sustainable development model.

Meanwhile more than 1500 people attended the alternative Public Eye on Davos (New York) conference – with a link to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Economists, NGOs, faith groups and human rights organisations called for limits on undemocratic corporate power.
And on the streets, more than 20,000 protesters sent a clear message through the police barriers to leaders inside the Waldorf Astoria that the behaviour of the WEF must change.

Friends of the Earth issued their challenge inside the WEF with a personal letter to every business participant to support global rules for corporations [1]. FoEI wants corporations to be held accountable for their impact on people and the environment and for this to be discussed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) in Johannesburg this August.

Tony Juniper, speaking for FoEI, said: “The ball is now firmly in the corporations’ court. The clearest message coming out of New York is that the corporate agenda is failing people and failing the planet. Members of the World Economic Forum cannot afford to ignore these issues. We have set them a challenge to account for their actions and to meet their responsibilities. We are now waiting and watching for their response”.

Craig Bennett + 1 213 216 0565
Miriam Behrens + 41 79 216 0206
Tony Juniper + 44 77 128 43207

[1] Friends of the Earth has asked company leaders to commit to the principle of global rules for business by May 1, 2002. The responses received will be published.