Leading international environmental organisations unite to take action for corporate accountability

25 August 2002 - Community activists and non-governmental organizations from around the globe today on the eve of the opening of the World Summit on Sustainable Development announced in Johannesburg the creation of a united worldwide movement to hold corporations accountable for environmental and social abuses.

Under the banner "People's Action for Corporate Accountability," the groups concluded a week-long conference on the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development by calling for governments to take action for citizens' rights and binding controls on corporations.

Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork, a South African organization that hosted the conference, said "Communities and NGOs are uniting to take on the abuses of corporations globally."

After hearing the stories and experiences of communities around the globe that have been harmed by corporate activities, the activists and organizations announced plans to address their message to the governments gathered in Johannesburg for the World Summit.

"If this global summit fails to address corporate accountability seriously, it will have failed to protect communities and the environment, and it will not put us on the path toward sustainable development," Peek said.

"Our experience since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 is that corporate claims of voluntary responsibility have proven hollow. Until they are held legally liable, they won't change their behavior."

The conference's final resolution calls for governments to put in place national and international rights for citizens and binding rules for corporations, including legal liability for the impacts of their activities.

The conference was attended by people from more than 30 countries and 78 organizations, ranging from local South African community based organisations to international groups. Conference participants heard about industrial pollution, toxic waste dumping, incineration, and destructive fossil fuel production and mining activities carried out by major corporations in local communities around the world.

The conference was co-sponsored by groundWork and local national organisations Environmental Monitoring Group and Earthlife Africa, as international groups Friends of the Earth International, Greenpeace, Third World Network, Corporate Europe Observatory, CorpWatch and the South African Exchange Programme on Environmental Justice.

Bobby Peek, groundWork, 082 464 1383
Marcelo Furtado, Greenpeace, 072 312 3496
David Waskow, Friends of the Earth, 082 858 8586
Yin Shao Loong, Third World Network, 072 545 4765
Kenny Bruno, CorpWatch, 082 370 0579
Belen Balanya, Corporate Europe Observatory, 083 296 2112