Bernische Kraftwerke and Newmont Mining pilloried at Public Eye in Davos

Within view of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, the Bern Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland today denounced some particularly blatant violations of corporate ethics and sustainable corporate managment. The Public Eye Awards 2009 go to the US gold mining corporation Newmont Mining and the Swiss utility Bernische Kraftwerke (BKW). In an Internet-vote Newmont was also selected as the winner of the people’ shaming award. The „Public Eye Positive Award“ goes to two courageous Colombian trade unionists.

At the tenth Public Eye the Bern Declaration and its new Davos-partner Greenpeace Switzerland presented awards to two companies that exemplify all those WEF-members and large corporate enterprises, whose social and environmental offenses are but the flipside of a globalization for profit only. „A real economic order requires strong political rules“ the German CDU-politician Heiner Geissler said in his opening speech. And the social-democratic Swiss MP Susanne Leutenegger Oberholzer criticized the WEF as an „important fly-by-night lobby operation for the bankrupt neoliberal business model.“

Newmont Mining wins two awards at once: by presenting Newmont with the Global Award and the People’s Award respectively, the expert jury and the internet community appeared in complete agreement on the company’s wrongdoing. The world’s largest gold producer is being criticized for its scandalous gold mining project in Eastern Ghana. In his presentation speech Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, president of the WACAM organization of people affected by the project, spoke of the „cynical destruction of unique habitats“ , of „brutal forced relocations“ and „poisoned earth and rivers“.

Winner in the category „Swiss Award“ is the Bernese utility company BKW. The Bernische Kraftwerke are pushing for the construction of a 1.6 billion coal-fired power plant near Dörpen in Lower Saxony, Germany. Inge Stemmer of the local citizen’s initiative Clean Energy opposes the efforts of BKW, which to her is just another way to speed up climate change. In Davos she pointed out the „huge contradiction between BKW’s green Swiss advertising and black Döringer reality“ and urged BKW-CEO Kurt Rohrbach to „abandon this gigantic CO2-export project to a neighboring country.

For the first time in Public Eye history – the event ¬was presented this year by current Bond-villain Anatole Taubman – there was also an award for the most courageous employee of the year. This „Positive Award“ is shared by two Colombian union leaders, Jairo Quiroz Delgado and Freddy Lozano. Their union Sintracarbon has been fighting a tough and successful battle for the communities affected by the mining operations of the El Cerrejon coal mine. In Davos they expressed hope for a „quick end to the ruthless exploitation of resources in developing countries by transnational corporations“.

The Bern Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland have created the Public Eye Awards as a rallying point for a public that views the WEF with critical eyes. The two non-governmental organizations are calling for mandatory international corporate accountability rules.

For more information (People’s Award poll results and speeches) go to