January 30, 2002 – For the third year running, the NGO coalition “The Public Eye on Davos” has organized an international conference as a direct counterpoint and challenge to the WEF.

This year’s Public Eye conference will be bigger than ever before. It will give representatives from the Global North and the Global South a platform from which to articulate their critique of one-sided economic globalization, and to discuss alternative paths to a fair and sustainable world economy. In contrast to the WEF, the Public Eye conference is open to the public. It will be held from January 31 till February 3, 2002 in the United Nations Church Center, a few blocks away from the luxury hotel Waldorf Astoria where the WEF annual meeting takes place.

Criticizing the WEF, Matthias Herfeldt of the Berne Declaration Switzerland (the coordinator of the Public Eye on Davos campaign) said that “it is overwhelmingly the industrialized countries and their corporations that have profited from the economic globalization promoted by the WEF and its members, while the world’s poor continue to suffer.” Herfeldt added that rhetoric and voluntary commitments from large corporations are not sufficient to tackle the impacts of globalization.

The organizers of the Public Eye believe that socially and ecologically sound economic development will require binding global rules for multinational corporations. “If the WEF’s members are really committed to improving the state of the world, they will support our call for governments to negotiate global rules so that responsible economic activity can be enforced worldwide,” said Friends of the Earth US’s Carol Welch.

Having been invited by the WEF in 2000 and 2001, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz from the Tebtebba Foundation in the Philippines said that “the main purpose of the meeting is to test new ideas and to further strengthen the dominant economic paradigm of neo-liberal globalization.” In order to fulfill this role, the Public Eye conference ensures that the experiences of the people who are marginalized by the globalization process are addressed.

The WEF is a private club for the world’s “foremost corporations,” in the institution’s own words. It aims to increase the influence of business on international policy-making, and promotes economic liberalization and globalization. The guests of the WEF annual meeting therefore include not only businessmen but also high ranking politicians. In this private space away from the public eye, they discuss issues with wide-ranging political relevance and concur on crucial political and economic strategies.

Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth UK, cell phone: +1 213 216 05 65, craigbennett7[at]hotmail.com
Carol Welch, Friends of the Earth US, cell phone: +1 202 491 31 97, cwelch[at]foe.org
Matthias Herfeldt, Berne Declaration, Switzerland, cell phone: +1 646 373 50 09, publiceye[at]evb.ch
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Tebtebba Foundation, The Philippines, cell phone: 646 250 4263, vickytcorpuz[at]hotmail.com
Marcelo Lucca, Porto Alegre/Brazil, messenger from the World Social Forum, vickytcorpuz[at]hotmail.com