Global Policy Forum

WSSD: A Little More Conversation, A Little Less Action

Corporate Europe Observatory
November 2002

By now, it is clear to most of those fighting for social and environmental justice, that Rio +10, the UN's mega-summit in Johannesburg, was a spectacular failure. Not that expectations were extraordinarily high to begin with, but it is still nonetheless a sad state of affairs when governments gathered together in one of the most high-profile events in recent memory, fail so miserably to make progress on key social and environmental issues. Instead, governments chose to award transnational corporations a central role in the implementation of 'sustainable development'. Corporate lobby groups, united under the banner of Business Action for Sustainable Development (BASD), were only too happy to assume this role. Their concerted efforts broke new ground in terms of greenwash and corporate co-optation of UN agencies and major NGOs. At one point the WBCSD, at the peak of their game, quoted Elvis Presley, calling upon leaders for, "a little less conversation, and a little more action." All in all, governments and the UN leadership achieved little other than cementing their relationship with the corporate elite and paving the way for many more years of 'partnership' hype and greenwash as key outcomes of the summit, rather than the substantial systemic changes needed to address the world's pressing environmental and social crises.

Over 65,000 delegates and observers from governments, international institutions, NGOs and business were part of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), which took place August 26 to September 4 in Johannesburg or eGoli (Zulu, for 'the city of gold'). Afterwards, most NGO's denounced the meagre outcomes, while governments and the UN leadership did their best to pretend that the summit results such as non-binding targets for reversing the degradation of biodiversity and for improving access to water and sanitation made it a success.[1] Governments and the UN also suggested that the slew of public-private partnership initiatives presented during the summit, was a major breakthrough in the implementation of 'sustainable development'. The glaring incongruity between governments' lofty 'sustainable development' rhetoric and their lack of political will to take effective action, made a mockery of the summit. Negotiations were primarily fixated on redefining 'sustainable development' to fit the trade and investment interests of Northern governments and 'their' corporations. Corporate-led neoliberal globalisation and specifically the WTO's Doha Round, were endorsed and presented as key contributors to 'sustainable development'. Symptomatic of the stage which the commercialisation of 'sustainable development' has reached, Mark Malloch-Brown of the UN Development Program (UNDP) described his positive impression of the summit as the, "world's biggest trade fair."[2]

The physical setting of the WSSD was surreal. The official negotiations took place in the Sandton Convention Centre, located in the most luxurious district of Johannesburg and surrounded by corporate headquarters. The excessive wealth of Sandton, protected by electric fences and hordes of armed security guards, stands in stark contrast with the deep poverty of neighboring townships, a potent symbol of the continued economic apartheid in South Africa. The official NGO gathering happened in a conference centre some 30 km from Sandton, while other venues were even more remote.


With over 100 CEOs and in total 700 business delegates from more than 200 different corporations attending the Johannesburg summit, the presence of industry was far bigger than at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Apart from this sizeable business delegation working to influence summit outcomes and coverage, the corporate presence was magnified by a sea of billboards in Johannesburg boasting of corporate achievements for 'sustainable development'. At all summit venues, thousands of glossy reports on self-proclaimed corporate social responsibility (CSR) drowned the more modest-looking leaflets of civil society groups. Government negotiators entering the Sandton convention center, first had to cross a massive shopping mall with a square in the middle where BMW had constructed a huge 'sustainability bubble', showcasing the hydrogen-powered vehicles it promises will be the future of mobility.

"If we weren't here we would be hammered," BASD chair Mark Moody- Stuart said to explain the massive presence of business at the WSSD.[3] Together with its two parent lobby groups the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the BASD had its headquarters in a fortressed Hilton hotel, just a short walk from the convention centre. The BASD lobbied intensively to influence the official negotiations, making use of its privileged access to negotiators to secure a 'seat at the table', with remarkable results. Days before the arrival of the heads of state, the Financial Times reported that "civil servants and corporate executives" were negotiating "to resolve differences on issues as diverse as energy policy, globalisation and good governance before their political masters begin arriving tomorrow."[4] To win the PR battle, the BASD organised a wide range of public events featuring its leading dynamic duo- corporate veterans Mark Moody Stuart and Lord Holme of Cheltenham. The BASD's PR machine made heavy use of the hundreds of voluntary partnerships involving transnational corporations which the BASD collected on its website in the run-up to Jo'burg.[5] Many of these projects were broadcast all day long through the Virtual Exhibit, the internet show co-sponsored by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).[6]

The International Chamber of Commerce had a particularly close cooperation with UNEP and other UN agencies during the Johannesburg summit. With UNEP, the ICC organised the World Summit Business Awards for Sustainable Development Partnerships.[7] The awards are part of the ICC's strategy of presenting isolated examples of 'best practice' as evidence that voluntary action 'works' and that binding rules are not necessary. This year's awards focused on projects that involved an NGO partner, suggesting that industry groups are focusing on the brand value of NGO endorsements and partnerships in order to improve their image and counter criticisms from groups with a more fundamental critique of corporate activity. The ICC also heavily promoted their joint venture with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), called the Investment Advisory Council. Launched earlier this year, the IAC promotes regulatory reforms in the world's poorest countries in order to make them more attractive for foreign investors.


The WBCSD's main spokespersons in Johannesburg were the group's founder Bjí¶rn Stigson, its current chair Phil Watts (chair of Shell) as well as Chad Holliday of DuPont. The WBCSD organised its own daily events during course of the WSSD, featuring projects such as the International Council on Metals and Mining which many critics consider a classic example of greenwash.[8] This and other controversial industry initiatives involving various degrees of partnership with NGOs were presented as proof of corporate enlightenment.[9] The WBCSD proudly presented a new book titled 'Walking the Talk - the business case for sustainable development', a collection of some 60 examples of 'best practice' by corporations like Shell, Aventis, Cargill, Suez Lyonnais des Eaux and TEPCO.

While there is nothing wrong with highlighting examples of 'best practice' per se, one needs to examine how these cases were used in context. In the run-up to the WSSD and in Johannesburg, these case studies were drawn upon by industry lobbyists as 'overwhelming' evidence that corporations are changing for the better and so do not need binding rules. The stories they failed to mention included Suez's record of failing to live up to promises of providing safe and affordable water following privatisation projects and TEPCO's attempts to cover up leaks from its Japanese nuclear power plants.[10] It is clear that isolated case studies prove nothing about the overall impact of transnational corporations, let alone about whether the process of corporate globalisation can be reconciled with 'sustainable development'. At the launch of 'Walking the Talk', DuPont's Chad Holliday explained that voluntary reporting was the ideal response to public pressure for government action in the wake of recent high-profile corporate accounting scandals. Voluntary reporting, said Holliday, was the way to "sidestep government intervention and regulation."[11]


The WBCSD also launched the new report "Water for the Poor", which it claims presents "a new strategy for the delivery of efficient water and sanitation services."[12] The 'new' strategy consists of accelerating public-private partnerships, facilitating private investment and ensuring that water service providers recover the full costs of providing the water. The only thing that was actually new was that representatives of business in Johannesburg not only avoided controversial words like 'privatisation', but explicitly stated that "industry does not support the privatisation of water assets. We believe that government should have the ownerships and control over water supply," the BASD explained.[13] Similar conciliatory messages were voiced by the numerous representatives of water giants like Vivendi, Suez and Thames Water which were active during the WSSD.[14] Days before the start of the WSSD Suez sponsored a special section in the International Herald Tribune promoting their new discourse on water.[15]

For these major water corporations, full-scale privatisation is no longer the preferred model for expanding into new water markets. This change is partly a result of increasing opposition to water privatisation around the world and growing realisation of the political risks of full ownership, for instance if the local population mobilises against increased water prices. Public-private partnerships are more attractive, as they facilitate access to government funding (including development aid) and sharing the risks with governments is beneficial to the company both in terms of sharing the blame as well as for instance if a privatisation does not lead to the expected profits. During the WSSD there were numerous protests encroachment of profit-seeking corporations over the water supply. Groups such as the South African Anti-Privatisation Network made this a key focus of their demonstrations in Johannesburg. Despite the opposition, the private water industry has broad support from Northern governments. European water corporations are likely to benefit most from the Water Initiative, which the EU launched in Johannesburg. This scheme rechannels euro 1.4 billion worth of EU development aid funds to support 'partnerships' for water infrastructure investments in the South.[16]


By far the most high-profile corporate event during the WSSD was the 'business day' dubbed Lekgotla- a Zulu word meaning 'dialogue of leaders'. At the lofty event, Rio Tinto veteran Lord Holme of Cheltenham, in a particularly messianic mood, presented the 'Johannesburg Business Pledge for Action' to the 800 participants in the Hilton hotel:

"Sustainability is the Opportunity, which we embrace. Responsibility is the Standard by which we should expect to be judged. Accountability is the Obligation, which we assume. Partnership is the Pathway, which we pursue."[17]

Throughout the day, a high-level retinue of government, UN and NGO leaders joined the choir claiming that (unregulated) business is (part of) the solution. The Danish Prime Minister and EU President Rasmussen, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan all heartily endorsed corporate globalisation and partnerships with business as the recipe for 'sustainable development'. Kofi Annan, for instance, stated that: "We realise that it is only by mobilising the corporate sector that we can make significant progress."[18]

"Ten years ago, at the Rio Earth Summit," Annan elaborated, "the role of business in 'sustainable development' was poorly understood." Annan's speech was yet another example of the far-reaching implications of the UN leadership's alliance with the corporate elite. The UN's traditionally arms-length dealings with corporations and its legacy of defending the rights of the poor and dispossesed has largely been subsumed by the corporate globalisation ethos, raising serious questions about its future role. Take for instance Annan's remarks at the end of his speech, where he advised business to move on with developing public-private partnerships. "If we don't, we are going to be under pressure," Annan warned the assembled business leaders, "and governments can then introduce the laws that are not necessary."[19]

While openly identifying with the corporate agenda, Annan seemed entirely unimpressed by the protest demonstration that had taken place the day before. At this first ever mass demonstration against a UN summit, an estimated 20,000 people marched from the poor township of Alexandra to the summit venue in the rich neighbourhood Sandton to protest against 'global economic apartheid'. The march was organised by, among others, the South African coalition Social Movements Indaba, which stated that "the United Nations has fallen into line in creating the conditions for the giant transnational corporations to increase their plunder and profit. It is now seen together with the World Bank, IMF and WTO as illegitimate."[20]


Among the NGO leaders speaking at the Business Day plenary were IUCN's Achim Steiner and WWF's Claude Martin. While other NGOs might have chosen to criticise the limitations of the BASD's 'voluntary action' approach or demand that business accept legally binding rules on their operations, Steiner and Martin kept it cosy. They fully endorsed the BASD's claims that transnational corporations are reliable allies in the pursuit of 'sustainable development'. The Business Day was therefore another worrying milestone in the on-going corporate efforts to blur the lines between business and NGOs. A few days before, Greenpeace took a huge and historic step in the same direction. In a much-publicised joint press conference on August 29th, Greenpeace and the WBCSD launched a public appeal for government action on climate change. Hoping to have an impact on governments that question the Kyoto Protocol, Greenpeace chose to ignore the WBCSD's key role in weakening the outcomes of the 1992 Earth Summit, as well as the lobby groups' well-documented record in undermining the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol.[21]

The WBCSD's joint event with Greenpeace proved to be an extremely valuable asset for the corporate campaigns to control summit outcomes and coverage. In the run-up to and during the first days of the WSSD, the omnipresence of corporations and their lobby groups had resulted in negative media coverage. NGO criticism of the partnership linking junk food giant McDonalds with UNICEF was widely covered by media around the world, as was the critique of the WSSD's excessive emphasis on public-private partnerships.[22] According to WBCSD's Director Claude Fussler, that all changed. "Beyond the substance of the call itself the event [with Greenpeace] turned the traditional dynamics of the summit upside-down," Fussler explains in his evaluation of the summit.[23] "NGOs usually push governments to act to police the corporate sector and when they do not get their way they protest to the media about business hijacking and derailing the negotiations.," he elaborated. The Greenpeace-WBCSD event, as well as other joint business-NGO activities, had a key role in boosting the image of the corporate presence in Johannesburg, and weakening the efforts of those groups fighting corporate power.


> It is a pleased Fussler who looks back at the summit and his satisfaction is shared by the rest of business. "The event will be remembered as a long-overdue recognition of the business community's indispensable role in sustainable development," writes the US Council for International Business, an ICC affiliate.[24] The European employers' confederation UNICE stressed that "this is new compared with the Rio Summit in 1992 and a clear result of the proactive and responsible approach of business during the preparations for the summit."[25] UNICE also warmly welcomed the summit's endorsement of the Monterrey and Doha agendas and the emphasis on economic growth, foreign direct investment, trade liberalisation and 'good governance' as pre-conditions for 'sustainable development'.[26] UNICE lobbied consistently to get the WSSD's seal of approval for the corporate globalisation ideology, and had two of its members on the official EU delegation, along with others from large European NGOs.[27]

"We are rolling up our sleeves for action," said the BASD referring to the summit's "recognition that partnerships involving business with other partners, from governments, civil society, NGOs and local communities is the way to create a multiplier for sustainable development."[28] The speech held by BASD boss Mark Moody-Stuart in the closing plenary revealed that the corporate enthusiasm for partnerships is not only motivated by concern about 'sustainable development'. According to Moody-Stuart, these international partnerships increasingly "define the standards in different sectors," and thereby have a major impact on the development of regulations influencing business, including on the national level.[29] To support his point, he mentioned projects such as the Global Mining Initiative and the Sustainable Forestry and Sustainable Fisheries Initiatives.[30] Widely criticised as corporate greenwash efforts, these projects came about through aggressive industry efforts to counter NGO criticism and to pre-empt government regulation of the sector. The WSSD's blanket endorsement of the voluntary agenda, empowers business to define its own standards, and closes off political space for strict regulation and enfocement measures brought about through more democratic means.


The core of the BASD's Rio+10 strategy was to convince governments, NGOs and the media that corporations are committed to partnerships and to 'sustainable development'. In the run-up to the Johannesburg summit, it had announced it would submit a large number of partnership projects to become official 'Type-II' summit outcomes.[31] Despite their claims of 'walking the talk', the BASD never officially submitted the projects to the WSSD secretariat, backtracking on its own promises just a few short days before. The WSSD's official 'List of partnership initiatives' includes only very few of the hundreds of projects that were so aggressively showcased by the BASD on its website, at public events and in numerous press releases during the course of the Johannesburg summit.[32] Monika Linn of the WSSD secretariat explains that the BASD decided not to submit the projects due to "concerns that cumbersome reporting requirements might be developed in the follow-up process."[33] The BASD, says Linn, "did not want be subjected to such requirements." The BASD's fears seem exaggerated as the follow-up process will fall under the UN's Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD), traditionally a rather toothless body in which business has an effective foot on the brakes.[34] JoAnne DiSano, Director of the UN's Division for Sustainable Development has stressed that the partnership projects "will be self-governing bodies with their own accountability mechanisms."[35]

The BASD, meanwhile, stresses that it is in the process of closing down (it was only intended as a vehicle for Rio+10 campaigning) and that it was up to other business groups to decide if they wanted to submit the projects or not.[36] Hiding behind the backs of the WBCSD and the ICC is however entirely unconvincing as the BASD was setup and run by the leadership of these two groupings. The double-dealing around the BASD's partnership initiatives exposes the deceptions of the BASD's self-proclaimed commitment to 'sustainable development' and 'corporate accountability'. The corporations behind the BASD are clearly not willing to accept even the slightest degree of independent monitoring. It confirms that the primary aim behind their involvement in the WSSD process was to prevent any mechanism through which they could be held accountable for their activities. In this context, it is strange that the UN website on the 'Partnerships for sustainable development' does refer to the fact that "the business community has presented numerous partnerships via the Business Action for 'sustainable development'" and makes a link to the BASD website's list of "Partnership Initiatives."[37] The BASD got a free ride.


"Governments recognised and encouraged the relevance of partnerships for 'sustainable development' by referring to them 46 times throughout the WSSD Programme of Implementation."[38]

In the run-up to the Johannesburg summit, numerous campaign groups warned against 'partnerships' between governments, business and NGOs being presented as official summit outcomes. They considered this a cover for the glaring absence of any firm government commitments to tackle pressing social and environmental issues. Save the Children, warned that the proposed public private partnerships (PPP) "may end up undermining the WSSD."[39] These PPPs, Save the Children points out, are likely to lead to "conflict of interest between private companies driven by the pursuit of profit and public bodies oriented towards social and environmental policy goals." A serious problem is the institutional and regulatory 'capture' of UN agencies. As they enter partnerships with corporations, it becomes "increasingly difficult to criticise their 'partners' and fulfil their own regulatory role."

Also within some governments, there was growing unease. Norwegian Minister of International Development, Hilde F. Johnson, asked her colleagues at a preparatory conference: "Why are we here if the only tangible results from the Johannesburg process will be Type-II partnership initiatives, financed from existing ODA flows, with no additionality, putting 'green paint' on old projects, or launching new ones primarily directed towards show-offs and flags for donor governments, undermining national ownership and coordination in the poor countries?"[40] In Johannesburg, a European government official concluded that it was "a mistake to have involved the private sector in the initiative in the first place," as corporations were more interested in pursuing their own interests than the officials aims of the partnerships.[41]

Over 220 voluntary partnership initiatives launched during the summit were posted on the UN's WSSD website as 'Partnerships for Sustainable Development', which implicitly makes them summit outcomes.[42] The projects are said to "adhere to the Guiding Principles," a rather vague set of criteria.[43] Most of the projects seem to be government- government or government-NGO projects. The UN website only provides very superficial information about the projects, for instance only the "leading partner" is mentioned. This makes it impossible, at this stage, to judge the merits and the degree of involvement of corporations in these partnerships.

Many projects are undoubtedly entirely benign, while others are less likely to be so. For example, how would one characterise the Italian government's 'Sustainable Biotechnology and Agriculture in Africa' project, presented as "a strategic plan for the development of biotechnologies and their use in agriculture?" Does the Japanese government's 'WTO Capacity-building Initiative' deserve the label 'partnership for sustainable development'? One public-private partnership project endorsed by the WSSD has already run into major public opposition. The 'WASH' project, run by the World Bank, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, WHO and a range of major soap producing TNCs, aims to improve hygiene in order to reduce diarrhoea-related disease and mortality. The involvement of Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Colgate Palmolive as well as the choice to run a pilot project in the Indian state Kerala has caused a wave of protests. Indian health campaigners point out that the hygiene and health situation in Kerala is comparable to some Western countries and that corporate soap advertisements have nothing to do with sustainable development. Their criticism has made the Kerala government shelve the launch of the ad campaign, which was planned for October 2nd.[44]


Throughout the WSSD, corporate lobby groups under the banner of the BASD lobbied hard against the NGO proposal to launch UN negotiations on a convention with binding international rules on corporate activities and sanctions to enforce these. Friends of the Earth International, Christian Aid, Third World Network and others were the main proponents of a corporate accountability convention, but the proposal was supported widely among civil society.[45] After the summit, both sides claim victory and the battle continues over the interpretation of the wording on corporate accountability in the WSSD's Plan of Implementation.

In the final text, governments agreed to "Actively promote corporate responsibility and accountability, based on Rio principles, including through the full development and effective implementation of intergovernmental agreements and measures, international initiatives and public-private partnerships, appropriate national regulations, and continuous improvement in corporate practices in all countries."[46] According to Martin Khor of Third World Network, these words are a significant victory for those wanting the UN to regulate corporations. "The next step forward is for the NGOs, the governments and the UN to follow up on the paragraph, and to begin as soon as possible to take steps to internationally regulate the corporations so as to make them accountable," says Khor.[47] The BASD has a diametrically opposite interpretation of the same text. The group claims that the paragraph on corporate accountability "refers to existing agreements and is not a call for a new international regime."[48] The BASD welcomes the "thrust to enhance mechanisms for corporate responsibility and social contributions," and mentions the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), activities within UNEP and the OECD guidelines on multinational enterprises as examples of existing (voluntary) mechanisms. The BASD interpretation is shared by the US government, while the NGOs have a few Northern and Southern governments sharing their take on it, including Norway and Ethiopia.

Apart from behind the scenes lobbying against the proposed corporate accountability convention, the BASD's strategy was to engineer the debate on corporate accountability by co-opting the term and redefining its meaning. In Johannesburg, BASD spokespersons used the term 'corporate accountability' just as often as NGO campaigners did, but with a very different interpretation. In the BASD's view, 'corporate accountability' is whatever corporations want to do voluntarily, such as participating in the Global Reporting Initiative, the UN's Global Compact or supporting the OECD guidelines. Also the term 'regulation' was actively redefined to mean corporate-friendly regulation, such as legal structures to facilitate market-based 'solutions'. In Johannesburg, business leaders spoke ad nauseum about the need for 'sensible regulation' and asked governments to establish the 'right frameworks' for the market. This discourse was used actively by BASD leaders like Mark Moody Stuart and Lord Holme who in the months before and during the WSSD actively sought confrontation in the media with the NGO's campaigning for binding UN regulations..


The campaigns for corporate accountability managed to bring important messages about the role of corporations in the global economy across through to the media. Many of these groups find hope in the wording of the WSSD Plan of Implementation, claiming that it shows the door has not been closed on a UN mechanism for enforceable corporate accountability. However, it is also clear that very few governments are committed to imposing binding rules on corporations. Moreover, the way the UN leadership and key agencies have embraced the corporate agenda make it increasingly difficult to imagine the UN developing legal instruments on corporate accountability. As Kenny Bruno from CorpWatch accurately puts it: "Meaningful corporate accountability in the UN seems a long shot, because those who would be held accountable are the UN's primary partners."[49] The corporate co-optation of the UN has continued apace and there is little sign of a sea change in the near future. Severing the ties between corporations and UN agencies should be a key priority for those who still hope that the UN can become a more democratic and progressive alternative to the neoliberal global governance of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO.[50]

Political action to hold corporations accountable inevitably will only happen if grassroots movements, rooted in societies and communities around the world, mobilise the necessary strength. It is hardly surprising that neoliberal governments whose economic development model is based on creating optimal conditions for transnational corporations do not suddenly embark on drafting an effective set of international rules forcing these corporations to behave responsibly. To open the way for genuine corporate accountability and more radical transformations, corporate power and neoliberal governance needs to be more directly challenged.

One of the more positive events in Johannesburg was the gathering of hundreds of campaigners from around the world at the Corporate Accountability Week, organised by South African environmental justice group groundWork. In the statement 'People's Action for Corporate Accountability' some 65 groups, ranging from international campaign coalitions to groups representing impacted communities fighting corporate abuse, pledged to work together for environmental justice and people-centered development. [51]


"" [52]

For background information on corporate campaigns towards Rio +10 see Corporate Europe Observer issues 10 (Rio+10 and the Privatisation of Sustainable Development) and 11 (Countdown to Rio+10, Sustainable Development and the Public-Private Pantomime):


WBCSD director Claude Fussler in his evaluation of Rio+10 ridicules those that are not content with the summit outcomes. "Too many greens went to the summit thinking it was 'their' ten-year career high point," says Fussler.[53] After having had a heavy hand in steering the WSSD outcomes to be more or less limited to voluntary partnerships, Fussler now claims to have had "reservations about an effort that could be rather cosmetic." Fussler states that he would have liked "a robust Plan of Implementation that must be the framework that aligns all forms of partnerships to shared goals." He continues to call the WSSD the "last mega-summit" and advocates an "issue-centered process to deal with progress on the various chunks in the implementation." Indeed, sectoral follow-up processes on water, energy, agriculture and so on is an attractive format for corporations wanting to control the outcomes, as it weakens those calling for holistic solutions. In fact the WBCSD has since it was founded worked consistently to redefine the global ecological crisis as a series of separate environmental challenges which corporations can deal with if they are left free from government regulation. This redefinition obscures the deep connections between ecological and social problems and their systemic nature. It directs the attention away from the fact that these separate crises are fundamentally caused by an unsustainable and unjust economic system, which is being expanded and accelerated in the form of corporate globalisation.


1: "Key Outcomes of the Summit", utcomes

2: Quoted in "A long way to go for little success", by James Lamont and John Mason, Financial Times, 4 September 2002

> 3: Quoted in "Ecology opens for business", by James Lemont and John Mason, Financial Times, August 31 2002.

4: "Bid to break Earth summit logjam", Financial Times, August 24 2002, 2002


6: Virtual Exhibit

7: The awards fit seamlessly in the piece-meal approach of presenting isolated examples of 'best practice' to argue the effectiveness of voluntary action. The award recipients were a mix of small partnership projects between local governments, NGOs and medium-sized unknown business and projects lead by major corporations such as Shell, BMW, De Beers and Procter & Gamble. The ICC uses its cooperation with UNEP to promote other corporate projects that have been the targets of campaigners in the run up to the WSSD, such as the Global Mining Initiative and the chemical industry's 'Responsible Care' program. The list of awards can be found at:

8: The International Mining and Metals Council is the latest stage of the previous WBCSD mining initiatives, the Global Mining Initiative (GMI) and the Mining, Metals and Sustainable Development (MMSD). Despite hearty attempts by the WBCSD to gain NGO support for the promotion of those projects, the NGO mining caucus decided to boycott the WSSD process because of the UN embrace of both the GMI and the MMSD, which campaigners and communities impacted by mining activities regard as totally insufficient and as an attempt by industry to depict mining as sustainable. For more information see "Countdown to Rio+10: Public Private Pantomime", Corporate Europe Observer issue 12.

9: For an overview of WBCSD events at the World Summit in Johannesburg, see:

10: For a critique of the Suez, see for instance: "Water multinationals 2002 - financial and other problems", PSIRU (August 2002) For an overview of recent irresponsible behavior by TEPCO, see for instance "Whistleblowing turns into tornado: TEPCO's falsification of safety records plunges Japanese nuclear industry into deep crisis", WISE-Paris, 6 September 2002, http://www.wise- 11: Notes from the launch of "Walking the Talk" 12. WBCSD Website: 13: BASD paper "Key Business Messages" 14: CEOs and other high-level representatives of Vivendi, Suez and Thames Water were part of the official delegations of respectively the UK, France and the EU during the WSSD. Also Severn Trent, Northhumbrian Water and numerous other major water corporations were present at the WSSD. 15: Sponsored section IHT, August 31 - September 1 2002: 16: BASD press release, World Summit: Business reacts, 3 September 2002 17: "Business pledge for action", BASD press release:, johannesburg, 1 september 2002 18: "Johannesburg summit: Big business gets green light from Kofi Annan", The Earth Times 2 September 2002 19: Notes from the BASD's "Business Day" 20: Statement by the Global Movement Indaba and La Via Campesina, 4 September 2002. 21: The WBCSD, together with other business groups, has played a major role in blocking effective climate policies both at national and UN level. The corruption of the Kyoto Protocol pushing for corporate-friendly pseudo-solutions like emissions trading is also to a large extent the result of corporate lobbying efforts. For more, see Greenhouse Market Mania: UN Climate Talks Corrupted by Corporate Psuedo-Solutions, Corporate Europe Observatory, CEO Issue Briefing, November 2000.

22: See for instance "Business chiefs on defensive at summit" and "Business presence fuels summit tempers"

23: WBCSD Summit Focus, No. 4 September 2002.

24: "Johannesburg Summit's Outcome Seen as Largely Positive", USCIB e- newsletter, October 2002 (Volume XXIV ISSUE 7)

25: "Johannesburg Summit and 'sustainable development': European Business is Part of the Solution",

26: When OECD governments talk about 'good governance' they refer to problematic practices by Southern governments, while ignoring for instance the increasingly flawed environmental and social governance practised by right wing governments in Europa and the US. 27: Representatives from Friends of the Earth, WWF, EEB and Greenpeace were also on the delegation.

28: "World Summit: Business reacts", BASD press release, 3 September 2002.

29: "One of the successes of this summit is in demonstrating the power of partnerships. in business we see the development of global partnerships with others to define standards in different sectors of industry - such as the global mining initiative, responsible care in the chemical industry, the sustainable forest initiative, sustainable fisheries, partnerships on agriculture and health or on biodiversity. such partnerships, together with initiative such as the global reporting initiative, create the standards against which international business will be judged. The outcomes will also inform national legislative processes." "Power of partnerships", Statement on behalf of Business and Industry by Mark Moody-Stuart, Chairman of Business Action for Sustainable Development', at the WSSD Plenary on 4th September, 2002.

30: See Corporate Europe Observer Issue 12, August 2002.

31: "Countdown to Rio+10", Corporate Europe Observer Issue 12, August 2002.

32: websites BASd and UN partnership http://www.basd-

33: Email from Monika Linn, October 7 2002.

34: In March 2000 the ICC withdrew from the CSD's Multistakeholder Review of Voluntary Initiatives, an evaluation process created in 1998 by the CSD's sixth session (UNCSD6). Aware that a review of the effectiveness of voluntary action would reveal dubious practices of numerous ICC member corporations, the ICC had lobbied hard to ensure that the mandate was no more than an "exploration" of the elements of a "potential" review. Still, the ICC felt it was safer to step out, before the review had even started. "Any effort to police or monitor voluntary initiatives on an adversarial basis which assumes lack of commitment by industry," the ICC letter stated, "ought not to be supported by us." See also "High Time for UN to Break 'Partnership' with the ICC", CEO briefing (July 2001)

35: Frequently Asked Questions about the Johannesburg Summit - "Type 2" partnership initiatives. DiSano adds "that although the partnerships are voluntary, and while there are fewer rules to choke creativity or incentive, there will be a measure of accountability." DiSano describes those criticizing the dominance of Type-II outcomes as "cynics". DiSano wants the partnerships to "report to the Commission periodically and, if they wanted to showcase themselves, they would have to demonstrate tangible results." "What we have to do is look at exactly what each partnership said they will do, and link the outputs of the partnerships to the work programme of the Commission on 'sustainable development'. We have to serve as the repository for the partnerships and track them. And we have to examine their bona fides." "UN Taking First Steps Toward Implementing Johannesburg Outcome", UN press release, September 23 2002.

36: "BASD Conclusion", October 10 2002.

37: kground.html checked October 9th 2002.

38: Frequently Asked Questions about the Johannesburg Summit - "Type 2" partnership initiatives,> ml#partnership3

39: "Public Private 'Partnerships': the Unresolved Problem of Johannesburg", Save the Children fact sheet, September 4 2002. The EcoEquity Coalition, bringing together WWF, Greenpeace, Oxfam and other major international NGOs, warned against the "unprecedented emphasis on Type 2 partnerships" and insisted on "a strong follow-up mechanism", including monitoring, reporting, accountability and external evaluation". "Critical considerations about Type 2 partnerships", Eco-Equity Coalition (Consumers International, the Danish 92 Group, Greenpeace international, ANPED, OXFAM International, WWF International

40: Speech by: HE Ms. Hilde F. Johnson, Norwegian Minister of International Development Intervention at WSSD, Prep.Com. IV, Denpasar, Indonesia, 6 June 2002.

41: Quoted in "Public Private 'Partnerships': the Unresolved Problem of Johannesburg", Save the Children fact sheet, September 4 2002.

42: "UN Taking First Steps Toward Implementing Johannesburg Outcome",> UN press release, September 23 2002.

43: "Guiding Principles for Partnerships for 'sustainable development'" uments/annex_partnership.pdf

44: "Kerala Washes it hands of project", The Hindustan Times, October 8 2002

45: See for instance "Big Business Rules? Corporate accountability and the Johannesburg Summit", and "A World Summit for Business Development? The need for corporate accountability in the World Summit for Sustainable Development agenda",

46: Paragraph 45 of the Summit's "Plan of Implementation".

47: "The battle for WSSD's endorsement of the need for corporate accountability, by Martin Khor, September 2002, TWN.

48: Key Business Messages, BASD website) The USCIB writes that "one area to watch is corporate responsibility, where the summit's conclusions called for voluntary approaches and the strengthening of national rules, while also raising the possibility of new international initiatives.">

49: "Sustainable development: R.I.P. - The Earth Summit's Deathblow to Sustainable Development", Dispatch By Kenny Bruno, CorpWatch, September 4, 2002

50: For more on the Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN, see

51: see People's Action for Corporate Accountability, groundWork website:

52: " The Corporate Takeover of Sustainable Development", Kenny Bruno and Joshua Karliner. Published by the Institute for Food and Development Policy and CorpWatch. Order from

53: Editorial Column by Claude Fussler, Summit Focus, WBCSD, September 2002

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