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WEF protestors withdraw from ‘irrelevant’ Davos

Business as usual for multinationals at the forum in Davos? Keystone


This content was published on November 19, 2014 - 15:26
swissinfo.ch and agencies

“Davos Man” may sleep a little easier after next year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) flagship event, safe in the knowledge that his footsteps will no longer be shadowed by two pressure groups intent on publicly exposing corporate malpractice.

Berne Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland have jointly announced that they will deliver one final Public Eye award in January before exiting the fringes of the event for good. 

For the past ten years, the awards have been bestowed on multinational firms accused of environmental or human rights abuses.

Some of the world’s largest companies have been shortlisted for the ironically named Public Eye Lifetime Award to be announced on January 25 in Davos.

Chevron, Dow Chemical, Gazprom, Glencore, Goldman Sachs and Walmart are familiar names at Public Eye events, which run parallel to the WEF’s annual meeting. Each has appeared multiple times in the line-up of firms deemed to have the most harmful corporate practices.

The awards have featured guest speakers such as Bond villain actor Anatole Taubman and former US financial regulator-turned author William Black.

WEF ‘losing relevance’

The NGOs said they would end their Davos trips after 15 years because “the closed-door events of the WEF are losing their relevance as a venue where political demands are directed at democratically legitimised decision-makers”.

“Every year, for the last 12, I have put on a brave face and gone where I must – not where I like, but where the world’s most powerful people are: Davos and the World Economic Forum,” wrote Greenpeace executive director Kumi Naidoo just before the WEF annual meeting in 2013.

“The week of the forum often feels like the most challenging week in working life because of the ‘WEF spirit’ conveyed by people at the forum, who walk around as if they owned the world. The truly frustrating thing is that they actually do own most of it.”

Both Berne Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland stated that their time would in future be better utilised by joining forces with an alliance of other NGOs that have formed the Swiss Coalition for Corporate Justice, based in Bern.

The group is lobbying politicians to force companies to better observe human rights and environmental issues and in 2012 filed a popular initiative demanding the same principles.

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