By Sérgio de Mello
Critics of massive corporate influence on the United Nations feel vindicated as they cast a close look at the deal on the table at the Rio+20 conference. The Rio+20 draft declaration does not address the environmental and social crises that the world is facing, says Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) and avers that “it simply allows multinational corporations to continue exploiting people and the planet without restraint.”
“Politicians are spinning this outrageous deal as a victory but in fact it is nothing less than a disaster for the planet. This is a hollow deal and a gift to corporate polluters that hold UN decision-making hostage to further their economic interests,” said FoEI chair Nnimmo Bassey.
Multinational corporations allegedly made massive lobbying efforts in the past twenty years to ensure that the UN serves their own interests rather than promoting solutions that benefit the people, such as economic justice, climate justice and food sovereignty.
Lucia Ortiz, Economic Justice International Program Coordinator for FoEI, said: “The Rio+20 Summit obviously ignored the demands of the 50,000 people marching today from the alternative Peoples’ Summit in Rio. Corporate interests prevailed. The deal even allows countries to sell out nature to multinational corporations while it does not include any measures to hold corporations accountable for their negative impacts.”
“Fortunately the so called ‘Green Economy’ does not have such a prominent role that corporations would have wished to see in the declaration, and this is a victory for all those opposed to the destructive Green Economy agenda promoted by industrialised countries and multinational corporations,” added Ortiz.
On June 22 Friends of the Earth International chair Nnimmo Bassey will meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and deliver a civil society statement denouncing the corporate domination of the United Nations.
More than 400 civil society organizations representing millions of people from around the world signed the statement – initiated by Friends of the Earth International and nine other organisations – which will be delivered in the sidelines of the UN Rio+20 Earth Summit.
Nnimmo Bassey will meet Ban Ki-moon in a meeting with the organisers of the alternative Peoples Summit in Rio, which includes Friends of the Earth International.
The statement is part of a Friends of the Earth International campaign ‘Reclaim the UN’ which included the launch on June 19 of a report exposing the increasing influence of major corporations and business lobby groups within the UN.
The report ‘Reclaim the UN from Corporate Capture’ presents a number of cases that clearly expose how UN policies and agencies are excessively influenced by the corporate sector, for instance oil company Shell, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, the Coca Cola company, and the Chinese oil giant PetroChina.
A recent example of how the UN is unduly influenced by corporations is the ‘World Business and Development Award’ that the UNDP awarded on June 19 to food giant Nestlé. Nestlé has been accused of failing to act on child labour and slavery in its cocoa supply chain and of exploiting farmers in the dairy and coffee sectors for many years.
The UN Global Compact never properly investigated these violations and took no steps to stop the alleged abuses by Nestlé. The Award praises Nestlé, enabling it to further greenwash its operations, the FoEI says.
“The many examples of corporate capture are detrimental to the good work being done by many UN agencies and officials worldwide for the protection and empowerment of people. Allowing this to happen is putting both the UN’s and its member states’ credibility and integrity at risk. In fact this threatens to undermine the mission of the entire UN system and must be stopped,” said Paul de Clerck, FoEI Corporates Campaign Coordinator at Friends of the Earth International.
Some of the important case studies:
- The Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative is being decided by an unaccountable, handpicked group, dominated by representatives of multinational corporations and fossil fuel interests, virtually without any involvement from or consultation with global civil society. In its current form, SE4All will spectacularly fail in its goal of tackling climate change and poverty.
- Support for agriculture and food policy appears to be compromised by corporate links at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). It is promoting technologies that endanger peoples’ rights and access to food.
- The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is increasingly driven by corporate actors interested in the financialization of nature and not by the need to conserve biodiversity.
- Private sector interests are increasingly seeking ways to treat water as a tradable commodity while depriving people of their universal right to water and endangering access to water and sanitation for millions of people worldwide.
- The UN Global Compact allows companies to boost their image by (mis-)using the UN flag for their own benefit, yet fails to deliver real improvements in business behaviour.
- The UN has been working very closely with big business in developing and promoting the concept of ‘Green Economy’ which is selling out nature and people, and greenwashing a broken and unfair economic system at the expense of sustainable development.