February 1, 2002 – 12:30 PM: Visibility and press conference.

In a major challenge to the global corporate sector, Friends of the Earth will today go into the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in New York to deliver 1,200 personally addressed letters – one for each corporate participant – inviting them to support binding global rules for business.

The letters, part of Friends of the Earth’s international campaign to make corporations accountable, requests a response on each company’s attitude to regulations by May 1st 2002, when the responses will be made public.

Delivered by Tony Juniper, Director Designate of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Martin Boesch, President of Pro Natura – Friends of the Earth Switzerland, the letters put forward the case for a legally binding international agreement which would apply to publicly traded companies.

Such an agreement should include:direct challenge to corporations from inside the wef

  • legal rights for citizens and communities affected by corporate activities which damage the environment and people’s livelihoods
  • duties on corporations regarding social and environmental matters, including disclosure of impacts rules to ensure high standards of behavior wherever corporations operate.

The letters will be taken by hand from the press conference at the YWCA (53rd and Lexington) to the WEF meeting at the Waldorf Astoria – where Tony Juniper and Martin Boesch have been invited as token representatives of the environmental movement.

Tony Juniper said: “The World Economic Forum claims to be ‘Committed to improving the state of the world’. But how many of its members still see good social, environmental and human rights performance as an optional extra? Our challenge will expose which corporations feel secure about these issues, and which have something to hide”.

Martin Boesch said: “The reason the WEF moved to New York is because of the massive controversy it provoked in Switzerland. And yet they have done nothing to change the fact that it is predominantly large corporations deciding on the future of the world. In the current spirit of global cooperation, surely it is time for this to change?”

Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth US, said: “Corporations have enjoyed unprecedented rights to invest and trade around the world, including the right to sue governments. It is long overdue that these privileges be balanced by strong and enforceable responsibilities.”

David Waskow, Friends of the Earth US 202-258-1348
Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
213-216-0565 Miriam Behrens, Pro Natura – Friends of the Earth
Switzerland 646-373-5009