Johannesburg, August 23, 2002 – Oil majors Shell, BP and ExxonMobil dominated today’s World Summit Greenwash Academy Awards, beating Biotech giants Monsanto, Novartis and Aventis in a glittering award ceremony in Jo’burg. Local South African underdog Sasol edged out Eskom for Best Picture.

Other winners were Enron for Best Makeup, Arthur Andersen for Best Documentary Destruction, and an unprecedented joint award to Total, Unocal and Premier Oil for Best Foreign Direct Investment. The ceremony was disrupted briefly by Ronald McDonald, who demanded an Award for McDonald’s partnership with UNICEF. The Academy spontaneously decided to give a special “Type II” McPartnership Award for the McUNICEF collaboration.

“Ten years ago in Rio, global business promised to deliver sustainable development. They have broken that promise, but they have delivered a motherlode of Greenwash,” said Oscar Green, the ceremony’s host. “Oil companies are presenting themselves as solar companies, and companies that promote giant agribusiness and oppose consumer  information are claiming to be the solution to world hunger,” said Craig Bennett of Friends of the Earth, a member of the Greenwash Academy. “We are delighted to recognize these companies for what they are: hypocrites.”

“These polluting companies are posing as friends of the environment and leaders in the struggle to eradicate poverty,” said Kenny Bruno of CorpWatch, another member of the Academy. “But often they spend more advertising their green projects than on the projects themselves.
That’s Greenwash!”

“With acting like this, it’s no wonder the UN is rushing to partner with corporations that do so much damage to our societies,” said Bobby Peek of groundWork, an Academy member. “But the rest of us are not fooled.”

The full list of Greenwash Academy Awards, or “Green Oscars”:
Award Category: The Winners: Runners Up:

  • Best Greenwash BP for their Beyond Petroleum rebranding campaign. Mining corporations (Newmont, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Anglo-American) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
  • Best Bluewash Nestlé for overcoming one of the worst corporate reputations out there and daring to show its face at the United Nations Novartis and Aventis for leaping at the chance to lead the UN Global Compact.
  • Best Supporting Government United States of America for representing corporate interests in environmental treaty negotiations.
  • Best Supporting UN Agency The Office of the Global Compact for allowing corporations to ally with the UN without committing to following its principles. UNEP for co-hosting – with the International Chamber of Commerce the World Summit Awards for Sustainable Partnerships in Joburg.
  • Best Documentary Destruction Arthur Anderson for excellence in shredding.
  • Best Foreign Direct Investment The Academy made a special joint award to Unocal, Total and Premier Oil for pipeline projects in Burma.
  • Best Make Up Enron for, well, you know… Asia Pacific Resources Limited (APRIL) for clearcutting Indonesian rainforest while making claims about sustainability
  • Best Picture Sasol for “putting as much into the community as they do into petrol”. Eskom for being a key member of Business Action for Sustainable Development while generating electricity from coal and nukes.
  • Best Director Lee Raymond of ExxonMobil for deep greenwash (lobbying and bullying behind the scenes while pretending to care for public interest).
  • Booby Prize Philip Morris and British American Tobacco for not convincing anybody despite spending hundreds of millions on PR.
  • Lifetime Achievement Shell for outstanding achievement over a decade. Monsanto for tireless promotion of Roundup Ready GM crops as a solution to world hunger.
  • Special McPartnership award UNICEF for its partnership with McDonalds.

The Academy’s definitions of Greenwash and Bluewash:
[1] Green*wash: (gren-wôsh) –washers, –washing, -washed
1) The phenomenon of socially and environmentally destructive corporations attempting to preserve and expand their markets by posing as friends of the environment and leaders in the struggle to eradicate poverty.
2) Environmental whitewash.
3) Hogwash.

[2] Blue*wash (n):
1. Allowing some of the largest and richest corporations to wrap themselves in the United Nations’ blue flag without requiring them to do anything new (New York Times).
2. Efforts by corporations to be perceived as part of the world humanitarian community through voluntary association with the United Nations, without provisions for accountability.

Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth (in Jo’burg) +27 72 406 4748
Linda Ambler, GroundWork South Africa + 27 83 750 7560
Matt Phillips, Friends of the Earth (in London) +44 (0)20 7566 1660
+44 (0) 7817 314706

The Greenwash Academy is supported by Friends of the Earth International, GroundWork South Africa and CorpWatch

A full pdf programme of the Greenwash Academy Awards is available here