DAVOS, SWITZERLAND – Friends of the Earth today issued a challenge to world leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) to deliver real measures to ensure corporate accountability for the people they represent. Tony Juniper, Director of Friends of the Earth in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Silva Semadeni, President of Friends of the Earth Switzerland, called on politicians at the Forum to look beyond the greenwash put out by business at the World Economic Forum and deliver on their commitment to global rules for business, made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, just five months ago.

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January 2002, Friends of the Earth challenged chief executives to comment on whether they favoured global rules for multinationals or not. A personal letter was passed to named individuals and an easy-to-use fax-back form provided.

The WEF in 2002 saw more commentary about the importance of dialogue. Warmed by the spirit of dialogue, 17 CEOs took the time to respond to the question. 1,170 were not warmed by the spirit of dialogue and did not bother.

Of the 17 who responded, 10 took the opportunity not to actually respond to the question but to provide instead glossy documents on their claimed social and environmental performance.

Of the seven who actually did answer the question, two were in favour of binding global rules for corporations, two against and three interested in hearing more.

The 2003 World Economic Forum Accountability Challenge 170 politicians at the WEF, 60,000 multinationals worldwide

Today Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland Director Tony Juniper and Pro Natura – Friends of the Earth Switzerland President Silva Semadeni delivered a challenge to the politicians attending the World Economic Forum. They asked them to recognise the reality of business impacts in the world, including continued human rights abuse and environmental and social degradation, and to act to bring about global rules for business and rights for citizens. Personalised letters were delivered to the WEF by the two directors. Friends of the Earth will report back on the challenge to politicians at next year’s World Economic Forum.

Friends of the Earth (EWNI) Director Tony Juniper said:
“So much for dialogue. We conclude business leaders only want to be involved in a discussion when they decide the questions. This reminds us too much of the experience of those communities struggling to protect their livelihoods and local environments confronted by meaningless ‘stakeholder dialogues’. The business agenda is clear – voluntarism instead of binding rules, but we’re not going to admit we think so.”

Pro Natura President Silva Semadeni said:
“Trust is not built by words – it must be must be earned by real action. Multinationals are not delivering change. This is why meaningful rules that deliver real rights to citizens to protect their environment and livelihoods are needed. At this year’s World Economic Forum we will therefore speak to the politicians.”


Pro Natura – Friends of the Earth Switzerland:
Miriam Behrens: 079 2160206
Silva Semadeni: 079 385 5357

Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland:
Craig Bennett +44 7810 558250
Matt Phillips +44 7817 314706
Tony Juniper +44 7712 843207