Wednesday, 02 May 2012

  Dear friends,

The Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development is fast approaching. In June this year, governments of the world are expected to agree on a declaration that should address and propose solutions to the multiple crises the world is facing today, on issues such as energy, food, climate and finance.

However, what we see coming out of the preparatory negotiations, is not going in that direction at all. The draft agreement document for Rio+20 reinforces the role of business as a promoter of the so-called green economy, but it completely fails to address the role of business in creating the financial, climate, food and other crises. Instead of discussing measures that would serve the public interest, the UN and its member states are merely making proposals that benefit certain companies and business sectors and push for public policy reforms to put their profits before people's rights.

Friends of the Earth International, La Via Campesina, Jubilee South/Americas, The Transnational Institute, Third World Network, Corporate Europe Observatory, World March of Women, Polaris Institute, Peace and Justice in Latin America/SERPAJAL and The Council of Canadians wish to alert the public that this results, to a large extent, from the capture of the UN and many of its member states by the business sector. Corporate lobbying within UN negotiations has managed to block effective solutions for problems related to climate change, food production, the violation of human rights, water supply, health issues, poverty and deforestation. The enormous influence of corporate lobbyists and the related power imbalances in some negotiation spaces undermines democracy and all too frequently results in the postponement, weakening or blocking of urgently needed progress in international social and environmental justice issues.

Recent examples of this takeover in the context of Rio include a behind-closed doors industry conference in the Netherlands, which is supported by the UN and some member states and advertised as a "Business& Industry Consultation with Government and Civil Society", focusing on the 'green economy' agenda [1]. No need to ask who is in charge nowadays; governments no longer consult with business, business consults with governments.  Another example of corporate capture is the annual World Business and Development Awards[2] (to be presented the day before the opening of the Rio conference in June), organised by the UNDP in partnership with the International Chamber of Commerce (famous for lobbying against progressive measures that serve the public interest), thereby providing a massive and high-profile opportunity for greenwash.

We believe that it is time to end this corporate takeover. If you agree with the need to put an end to the corporate capture of the UN, please sign on to the joint civil society statement and join the campaign to 'recapture' the UN.

Thank you very much

Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International
On behalf of the initiators of this statement

Read the full statement
Sign onto the statement at