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[GreenYes] Fwd:Corporate highjacking of Rio+10 Summit

>From: Bryan  Ashe <>
>Date: Tue, 7 May 2002 08:20:29 +0200
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Jamie Kneen []
>Sent: Monday, May 06, 2002 8:41 PM
>The following article in the Corporate Europe Observer (CEO) sets out how 
>the corporative bodies are gearing up with the UN to establish Type
>II <partnerships> as the chief outcome of the World Summit on
>Sustainable Development.
>Corporate Europe Observer - Issue 11
><>home >
><>observer11 >
>Rio +10 and the Privatisation of Sustainable Development
>As the preparations for the Johannesburg summit advance, a corporate
>dream scenario is about to unfold. Instead of effective political
>action to solve the world's most pressing social and ecological
>problems, such as rules to control corporations, the summit is likely
>to focus on promoting 'public-private partnerships'. These projects,
>for instance between governments, NGOs and corporations, will be
>included in the Johannesburg declaration, thus becoming official
>outcomes of the summit. Industry expects a long list of greenwash
>projects to get the ultimate seal of approval in Johannesburg,
>including controversial initiatives like the Mining, Minerals and
>Sustainable Development (MMSD).
>Privatising Implementation
>The upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in
>Johannesburg will mark the 10 year anniversary of the original Earth
>Summit. Rather than renegotiating the original Rio agreements,
>governments will gather in South Africa with both little to show and
>little to offer in terms of progress on key environmental and social
>objectives. "There is undoubtedly a gap in implementation," remarked
>UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his report on implementation of
>Agenda 21 - the main action plan to emerge from Rio, "Šin some
>respects conditions are actually worse than they were 10 years
>But while growing consensus that not much has been achieved is cause
>for concern in its own right, the emerging 'solutions' to the
>implementation crisis are even more disturbing. Most notable among
>these are what are being referred to in the UN jargon as 'Type-II
>outcomes'. These are UN-branded voluntary projects carried out in
>partnership between different 'stakeholders' such as governments,
>NGOs and business. The idea is that since government action has been
>so inadequate, encouraging voluntary partnership initiatives might
>bring new impetus to the implementation of the various commitments.
>Business in particular is being singled out as a prime source of
>'innovative financing' for such projects. Through 'Type-II'
>partnerships, the UN leadership is also keen to promote, "productive
>relationships between NGOs and business."[2]
>While some of these projects - particularly those involving only
>non-for-profit actors - may have a positive impact, the real danger
>of the Type-II approach is that such projects will likely be seen as
>an alternative to enforceable outcomes negotiated by governments.
>Sadly, the strength with which these partnerships are emerging
>reflects a deep neoliberal bias and a lack of political will to
>effectively tackle the social and environmental crises of the age. It
>also reflects the success of corporate campaigns that have long been
>championing the voluntary approach as opposed to government
>regulation. The 'Type-II' approach is essentially the privatisation
>of implementation. The job of ensuring 'sustainable development' will
>be outsourced to various NGO and corporate actors, while governments
>look on approvingly and compare verbiage.
>Major corporate lobby group campaigns for Rio +10 have been
>aggressively marketing such partnerships as part of their core
>strategy to avoid any legally binding outcomes which may impact their
>business (see Observers 9 and 10). For the last few years, the
>International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Business
>Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) have been highlighting
>case studies of environmental, human rights or social initiatives
>conducted by member corporations and promoting them as proof of their
>good 'corporate citizenship'. In the last year, both groups and their
>latest offspring, Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD),
>have concentrated on showcasing projects done in partnership with
>others such as with national and local governments, UN agencies,
>international institutions such as the World Bank and some NGOs.
>The politics of partnership
>The partnership approach has infected much of the discourse in the
>United Nations of late. Hardly a piece of text or speech goes by
>which doesn't extol the virtues of partnerships. They build upon the
>concept of 'multistakeholder dialogues' which have become a fixture
>in modern governance processes. This seemingly benign concept of
>various 'stakeholders' getting together around a table and hashing
>out issues has been championed by official summit, nor will they be
>at the summit itself. Project approvals will be left to the 10 member
>Bureau of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the
>WSSD Secretariat to decide, with only a few months to go through all
>the proposals. As such, it is unlikely that the project proposals
>will receive serious scrutiny. The lack of stringent criteria,
>coupled with the overall neoliberal bias of the UN leadership, is a
>recipe for disaster.
>The news that partnerships will be adopted as a Summit outcome has
>raised numerous concerns among civil society groups. Some of these
>groups tried to make their voices heard at the last PrepCom (III) of
>the WSSD, held in New York at the end of March. Third World Network
>warned of the risks of partnerships undermining the intergovernmental
>implementation programme and the fact that business, with a much
>stronger economic power than other groups, drives the
>Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue processes.[5] The Women's Caucus strongly
>rejected UN-business partnerships, such as the Global Compact and
>refused to be in any partnership with transnational corporations.
>They challenged the partnerships concept, saying that it, was not
>clear, contained no criteria, and did not consider the impacts of the
>initiatives. "How can we be partners on an equal footing?"[6]
>Corporate groups on the other hand are very receptive to the emphasis
>on partnerships. The ICC welcomed the move, strongly supporting,
>"actions that deliver results rather than procedures." [7] Former
>Shell boss and now leading the BASD, Sir Mark Moody Stuart, confirmed
>that his group's main contribution will be to present partnerships to
>the WSSD.[8] The BASD is busy compiling flagship partnerships which
>are showcased on their website.[9] Moody Stuart said that the BASD
>will submit a few of them for formal consideration including the
>Energy and Biodiversity Initiative, the Global Mining Initiative, the
>Marine Stewardship Council and the chemical's industry Responsible
>Care program. Some of these initiatives are not new, so in order to
>qualify, the corporations involved have made minor changes or brought
>new partners on board. The projects are largely an attempt to improve
>the corporate members' tarnished images. They are also a reaction to
>pressure by campaign and community groups or as a move to pre-empt
>binding regulation. For example, the Responsible Care program, long
>criticised as greenwash by campaign groups and academics, was
>established by the chemical industry after the Bhopal disaster where
>a Union Carbide plant leaked poisonous gas killing 4,000 people and
>injuring hundreds of thousands in the community. The move effectively
>killed efforts to toughen regulation that would have forced industry
>to comply with safer and cleaner standards.[10]
>Sustainable Mining?
>Another project strongly opposed by affected communities and
>campaigners is the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development
>(MMSD) initiative. The MMSD is a partnership project between the
>WBCSD, the Institute for International Environment and Development,
>the Global Mining Initiative (GMI), and sponsored by some 30 mining
>companies (among them notorious environmental and human rights
>abusers such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Freeport McMoran, Newmont
>and Mitsubishi). The project is described as, "an independent process
>of participatory analysis aimed at identifying how mining and
>minerals can best contribute to the global transition to sustainable
>development." All the 'measurable results' and 'expected milestones'
>announced on the BASD website, so far have been confined to one
>report and some working papers.[11]
>There is a danger that projects such as the MMSD, which has one of
>the most visible corporate lobby campaigns in the run-up to
>Johannesburg, will be considered 'official outcomes' of the WSSD. If
>this were to happen, it would leave the impression that the mining
>industry has nothing to change; that its production patterns are
>sustainable; that its activities do not violate human rights; or
>displaces indigenous people or create massive environmental
>destruction. Danny Kennedy of Project Underground and Vicky Tauli,
>long-time experienced campaigners against the destructive practices
>of the mining industry say about the MMSD: "No process is independent
>that relies on US$5 million or more from the very companies whose
>activities it is trying to analyse."[12]
>WSSD: The Ultimate Seal of Approval for the Greenwash of Business
>The most vocal supporters of the partnership approach are generally
>corporations from some of the most environmental and socially dubious
>industries - namely oil, gas, chemicals and mining. For them,
>'Type-II' outcomes represent an ideal marketing opportunity for their
>maligned industries. By committing to a few select projects in
>partnership with 'pragmatic' NGOs and UN agencies, these corporations
>are now being held up as shining examples of corporate social
>responsibility. Official endorsement of what are, at best, tokenistic
>contributions by business, is the ultimate seal of approval for the
>greenwashing efforts of business.
>A dangerous trend is emerging in the area of social and environmental
>international 'governance'. Governments are increasingly dodging
>their responsibilities and hiding their impotence behind a faŤade of
>partnerships and noble rhetoric to avoid taking steps to bring about
>real systemic change. Corporations are more than happy to step in and
>occupy the political space granted them by governments in the
>increasingly deregulated environs of the global economy. The
>neoliberal transformation of society continues at a rapid pace as the
>scope and powers of institutions such as the World Trade Organisation
>are expanded, while those dealing with social and environmental goals
>are either co-opted to legitimise the corporate globalisation agenda,
>or are relegated to the scrap heap of history. All the while,
>ordinary people are left to wonder what possible avenues there are
>left to pursue meaningful change.
>The Doha Distortion Agenda
>Much has been made of the so-called 'Doha Development Agenda' in the
>run-up to Johannesburg. Speeches by Secretary-General Kofi Annan,
>Under Secretary-General Nitin Desai, and UNEP's Klaus Tšpfer, have
>all praised the new round in the WTO recently launched in Doha,
>Qatar. The UN leadership is keen to give the impression that the new
>round is a sustainable development agenda and are likely to refer to
>it is a official outcome of the WSSD ('Type I' if you will). A key
>driving force behind this has been the state.[13]
>Co-opting Corporate Accountability
>'Type-II' outcomes have another perverse effect. By reinforcing the
>business-led ideology that corporate voluntary action is the way to
>go, they will inevitably weaken efforts to impose binding rules on
>corporate activity. 'Corporate accountability' has long been on the
>agenda of campaign groups, going back decades.[14] However, recently
>the campaign has won new strength and has surfaced as one the major
>demands by civil society groups in the run-up to Rio +10. One of the
>concrete proposals, spearheaded by Friends of the Earth
>International, is to launch international negotiations for a set of
>legally enforceable rules on transnational corporations at
>Political response to the call for binding regulations at PrepCom II
>and III was at best lukewarm. The US, Japan, Canada and New Zealand
>were clearly opposed to the idea, while the European Union, in its
>usual placating manner, considered it unrealistic. The G-77 was also
>reportedly uninterested, preferring to limit any such discussions to
>corporate financial accountability. The corporate response has been
>notably silent, although a number of government delegations at
>PrepCom II reported 'fierce lobbying' by business to get
>'accountability', as spelled-out by the coalition of civil society
>groups, off the agenda.
>Rio Tinto's Lord Holme of Cheltenham, veteran of both the ICC and the
>WBCSD and now second-in-command after Moody Stuart at the BASD, has
>been so far the only voice of business openly reacting to the call
>for binding regulations. In a speech delivered at the Business in
>Environment (BiE) conference, Cheltenham gave an outline of the way
>the BASD intends to deal with the demand for corporate
>accountability. According to him, there is no need for a choice
>between regulation and, "so-called 'voluntary initiatives'." As long
>as regulation is decided by governments and not by NGOs, "do not
>stifle initiative and enterprise." He went on to say that business
>supports regulations if done in consultation with business, but
>never, "at the expense or in competition to the infinitely more
>powerful force of voluntary action and initiative."[16]
>To illustrate the superiority of the voluntary approach espoused by
>the BASD, Cheltenham cited the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as a
>case in point. Initiated in 1997 by the Coalitions for
>Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) - a network of
>Corporate Social Responsibility groups and foundations - together
>with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the GRI is aimed at
>developing voluntary guidelines for reporting on economic, social and
>environmental performance. The GRI has been readily endorsed by major
>business groups, due to its voluntary nature and non-controversial
>emphasis on reporting rather than action.
>Environmental and social reporting is the new buzz in the Corporate
>Social Responsibility (CSR) sector. Greenwash gurus such as Shell and
>BP have been using reporting as part of a sophisticated PR drive to
>improve their battered images, with great effect. Shell's 'People,
>Planet, and Profits' report and is often heralded as
>'ground-breaking' and 'pioneering' by many in the CSR sector.[17]
>Shell's clever positioning on climate change for example, has earned
>it green approval ratings from groups like Families Against Bush,
>based solely on its rhetoric.[18] Partially due to the success Shell
>has had through its successful image makeover, other companies are
>seeking to emulate that success by adopting reporting guidelines such
>as those of the GRI. They are also getting more directly involved in
>guiding the development of those standards. The WBCSD and General
>Motors, for example, are now on the steering committee of GRI,
>together with the World Resources Institute, UNEP and SustainAbility
>among others. The WBCSD has openly admitted the convenience of
>supporting voluntary initiatives like the GRI, as it will grant
>business "increased credibility," while not requiring it to
>fundamentally change core business practices.[19]
>Voluntary guidelines for reporting on corporate performance are a far
>cry from effective legally binding regulations, nonetheless,
>reporting is at the core of industry's response to calls for
>corporate accountability. According to Tomorrow magazine, "the
>guidelines, thanks to GRI's massive commitment to inclusiveness, have
>fast become the leading way for companies to respond to the growing
>global demand for corporate accountability."[20] But the BASD is
>quick to brandish anyone calling for binding rules on TNCs as
>heretics. According to Lord Cheltenham, "it needs to be understood
>that this call in itself is a compromise between a fundamentalist
>minority whether of a neo-Marxist type who see all capitalism as evil
>and whose aim is to find out what large companies are doing and make
>them stop it, whatever it may be, or of a deep green 'trade is
>harmful, lets all stay in Hobbiton variety' and on the other hand, a
>much larger majority group who see that job and wealth creation are
>essential but who want to ensure it is done more responsibly and
>equitably."[21] Similar attempts to dismiss groups who articulate a
>solid critique of corporate power are a constant feature of
>business's divide-and-rule strategy. Cheltenham added, "I believe
>that is right for business to work in a constructive way with this
>concerned majority for better and more accountable governanceŠ. even
>if it's difficult to see how common ground can be achieved with the
>minority of fundamentalists."[22]
>Another way in which the BASD is trying to divert attention from the
>need for effective societal control over corporations is by calling
>for 'better governance' in the South. BASD chairman Mark
>Moody-Stuart, speaking at the Globe 2002 conference, argued that good
>governance is needed to help develop "regulatory frameworks within
>which the market can operate."[23] The former Shell boss admitted
>that corporations "have a real sensitivity about regulationŠI am not
>talking about the regulation that binds us hand and foot and buries
>us in forms, but frameworks which make delivery of a reasonable
>outcome through market forces more likely."[24] The BASD chairman
>blamed the lack of effective governance structures for creating world
>poverty. Arguing that if it weren't for 'corruption' in Southern
>governments and the lack of business opportunities in some sectors,
>society would have the resources to eliminate poverty. According to
>Moody-Stuart, business can play a key role in helping to build good
>national governance. The role of states would then be not to control
>corporate excesses, but to create the 'enabling environments' whereby
>business can operate freely. The BASD vision was backed by Canadian
>environment Minister David Anderson, who endorsed the business mantra
>saying that, "the traditional environmental approach - where
>government sets the targets, makes the rules, and points the way -
>won't get us there."[25]
>It is clear that corporate campaigns for Rio +10 will eventually
>engage directly in the debate around corporate accountability, and
>strive to control the outcomes of any such debate. In line with the
>"don't worry, be happy!" approach taken by the BASD, business will
>not plainly oppose the call for binding regulations, but instead seek
>to control the definition of the term corporate accountability to the
>most narrow of meanings. As it has happened with other terms such as
>'sustainable development', industry will embrace the term and thereby
>render it meaningless. The then Business Council on Sustainable
>Development (now the WBCSD) was already using the language of
>'corporate accountability' back in 1992 as part of its campaign to
>promote voluntary solutions.[26] There is also a danger that business
>groups will seek to engage with its critics, in an effort to improve
>their image and split the opposition, as well as to ensure that they
>can water down proposals and engineer certain outcomes favourable to
>business. The ICC recently demonstrated this with great effect, when
>they manoeuvred themselves into co-drafting and signing a joint
>statement with NGOs, including groups calling for binding
>regulations, at a UNEP conference in Cartagena, Colombia. The
>statement calls for, among other things, corporate accountability to
>be promoted through initiatives such as the GRI and regulation, where
>Need to Change Course
>It is up to campaign groups to take these factors into account in
>their own strategic planning, so as to be better able to respond to
>industry efforts to undermine their call for binding regulations. It
>is not enough to score points by getting the language of corporate
>accountability into the official WSSD process, as we've already seen
>where that road leads. Rather, groups should make clear what they are
>calling for, both in substance and in form, in such a way that it
>would be more difficult for corporations to co-opt and counter.
>Perhaps it is time to employ new language in the ideological jargon
>wars, reflecting also a more profound vision of what is to be done
>with transnational corporations.
>Sadly, the corporate agenda dominates the political process of the
>WSSD to an extent unseen before. Nitin Desai, Secretary-General of
>the Johannesburg summit has whole-heartily embraced the world's most
>powerful corporate lobby groups such as the ICC and the WBCSD. He has
>truly followed the lead of former Secretary-General of the original
>Rio summit, Maurice Strong, in making business his closest ally. A
>recent open letter to Desai sent by social and environmental justice
>groups and members of the European Parliament, criticised his
>uncritical praise for the role these obstructive groups play.[See
>The letter was sent as a reaction to Desai's speech at the last World
>Economic Forum (WEF) that took place in January in New York during
>the same time as the PrepCom II, where he endorsed the ICC, WBCSD and
>BASD as 'enlightened businesses' and prayed them for their commitment
>to sustainable development.
>The UN, traditionally a staunch ally of the poor and dispossessed of
>the world, has over the years taken a dramatic turn in favour of the
>world's wealthy elite. The irresponsible blanket endorsements given
>to business by the UN leadership, be it through 'Type-II' outcomes or
>through Kofi Annan's Global Compact, are a poor response to some of
>the world's most notorious human rights and environmental abusers.
>Such attitudes by the UN leadership gives the impression that there
>is no need to take action and that business is well on the way to
>resolve unsustainable patterns of production and consumption that
>they promote on their own terms.
>World governments and the UN need to address the fundamental gap
>between corporations' self-proclaimed commitment to sustainable
>development and the reality of their lobbying to block and weaken
>effective policies to combat the global environmental and social
>crises afflicting us today. The world's leaders need to start
>listening to the demands by civil society groups and ordinary people,
>that business can not be allowed to continue as usual. Unless a
>dramatic U-turn in policy and approach is made soon, Johannesburg
>risks becoming little more than a propaganda circus.
>1. Commission on Sustainable Development acting as the preparatory
>committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Second
>session, 28 January-8 February 2002 "Implementing Agenda 21 - Report
>of the Secretary-General*" Economic and Social Council Distr.:
>General, 19 December 2001. Page 4.
>2. Ibid. Page 43.
>3. The Major Groups are: Women, Youth and Children, Indigenous
>People, NGOs, Local Authorities, Workers and Trade Unions, Scientific
>and Technological Community, Farmers, and Business and Industry.
>4. Statement of the Asia-Pacific People's Forum on Sustainable
>Development. 25-26 November 2001, Phnom Penh.
>5. 'Bali Next Stop for Johannesburg Summit Preparations'
>, WSSD, April 5, 2002.
>6. 'Enthusiasm and Some Concerns Voiced Over Partnership Proposals'
>, WSSD, April 2, 2002.
>7. Ibid.
>8. "Globalisation in the 21st Century", Mark Moody Stuart speaking at
>the Globe 2002 Plenary, March 13 2002.
>9. By April 18th 2002, the BASD website featured 14 partnerships
>initiatives, some examples include:
>The Energy and Biodiversity Initiative with BP, Chevron Texaco,
>Statoil, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature
>(IUCN) and other mainstream conservancy groups;
>A project to develop the gas market in West Africa by the World Bank,
>governments of the area and the World LP Gas Association;
>The Indonesia & Micro-credit Programme with Local Communities project
>run by TotalFinaElf;
>Yemen Technology Transfer & Community Assistance, run by the Canadian
>Nexen Petroleum Corp;
>And the Elf-in-Rural-Life Project - TotalFinaElf together with
>communities, focusing on agricultural 'modernisation' and development.
>For more details, see:
>10. Joshua Karliner, The Corporate Planet. Ecology and Politics in
>the Age of Globalisation, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1997.
>Union Carbide (now owned by Dow) continues to argue that regulations
>aren't needed claiming it has learned from the disaster, "The legacy
>of those killed and injured is a chemical industry that adheres
>voluntarily to strict safety and environmental standards - working
>diligently to see that an incident of this nature never occurs
>again." accessed on April 18, 2002.
>11. BASD Website:
>12. "Native Reluctance to Join Mining Industry Initiatives: Activist
>perspectives." By Vicky Tauli Corpuz and Danny Kennedy.
>13. Kofi Annan, heads of state of 6 African countries and senior
>government ministers of 10 other African countries met in Monterrey
>with the Investment Advisory Council (IAC), a joint partnership
>between the ICC and UNCTAD (the UN Conference on Trade and
>Development). The focus of the meeting was the way in which business,
>governments and the UN can increase FDI in Africa to help implement
>the goals of NEPAD. The New Partnership for Africa Development
>(NEPAD) is an action plan much criticised by African civil society
>groups who feel it subordinates the development aspirations of Africa
>to the corporate-led neoliberal agenda.
>14. For an excellent overview of the history of regulation of
>corporations, specifically within the UN system, read, "Holding
>Corporations Accountable: Corporate Conduct, International Codes and
>Citizen Action" by Judith Richter, Zed Books, 2002. See also, The
>Corner House briefing, "Codes in Context: TNC Regulation in an Era of
>Dialogues and Partnerships", also by Judith Richter, The Corner
>House, 2002.
>15. You can find an outline of the proposal and an overview of the campaign
>16. Lord Richard Holme of Cheltenham, speaking at the Business in
>Environment Conference, 26 February 2002.
>17. "In a way - and particularly with the expert external groups -
>Shell has moved from being perceived as a laggard in corporate
>accountability and the Sustainable Development agenda to something of
>a leader and a benchmark company not only in the oil industry but
>more generally." - SustainAbility Ltd., "SustainAbility assessment of
>effectiveness of relationship with Shell against Rules of
>19. WBCSD-GRI position paper, WBCSD website,
>20. "On balance, the GRI guidelines are a huge achievement. So huge
>that few firms, big or small, can ignore them. The guidelines, thanks
>to GRI's massive commitment to inclusiveness, have fast become the
>leading way for companies to respond to the growing global demand for
>corporate accountability." Bill Birchard, Tomorrow Magazine,
>November/December 2000.
>21. Richard Holme of Cheltenham, speaking at the Business in
>Environment Conference, 26 February 2002.
>22. Ibid.
>23. "Globalisation in the 21st Century", Mark Moody-Stuart, speech at
>the Globe 2002 plenary, 13 March 2002.
>24. Ibid.
>25. "Regulatory Frameworks Needed to Boost Sustainable Growth in
>Developing World," International Environmental Reporter, volume 25, n
>7, 27 March 2002, Globe 2002.
>26. See "Fading to Grey: The Use and Abuse of Corporate Executives
>'Representative Power'" Nick Mayhew, as appears in "Hijacking
>Environmentalism: Corporate Responses to Sustainable Development,"
>ed. Richard Welford, Earthscan, 1997.
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><>Paulus Potterstraat 20
>1071 DA Amsterdam  Netherlands
>tel/fax: +31-20-612-7023  e-mail:
>Jamie Kneen
>Communications Coordinator
>MiningWatch Canada
>880 Wellington St., Suite 508
>Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  K1R 6K7
>ofc. (613) 569-3439
>fax: (613) 569-5138
>cell: (613) 761-2273

Gary Liss
Fax: 916-652-0485

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