NGOs challenge the World Economic Forum

Private institutions like the World Economic Forum have no legitimate role to play in setting the agenda of global public affairs. Under the motto, "the Public Eye on Davos", an international NGO coalition organizes an independent conference to challenge the Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos.

From 25-30 January, the World Economic Forum meets in Davos/Switzerland. Under the motto, "Bridging the Divides: Creating a Roadmap for the Global Future", the Forum says it "seeks to move from its traditional role as a facilitator to a more active role as a catalyst for the global agenda".

An international NGO coalition, "the Public Eye on Davos", will carry out an independent conference to challenge the agenda-setting role of the World Economic Forum in Davos. "Davos is the essence of a privatized public agenda", says Peter Bosshard of the Swiss advocacy group, the Berne Declaration. "NGOs will no longer accept a private body which is funded by 2000 large corporations to draw up roadmaps for the global future", Bosshard said at a media conference of the "Public Eye" in Davos.

The Forum claims to have addressed the social and environmental impacts of globalization for many years. Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth International argues that rhetorics and voluntary commitments are not sufficient to tackle the impacts of economic globalization. At the "Public Eye" media conference, Juniper called for binding environmental and human rights standards to be integrated into international trade, financial and investment policies and agreements. A platform putting forward specific proposals was endorsed by 138 NGOs from 34 countries.

Having been invited to the Forum in 2000 and 2001, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz from the Tebtebba Foundation in the Philippines says that the main purpose of the meeting is "to test new ideas and to further strengthen the dominant economic paradigm of globalization". In order to challenge this role, the "Public Eye" conference must ensure that the experiences of the people who are marginalized by the globalization processes are addressed, Tauli-Corpuz suggested.

The "Public Eye" conference will take place in Davos on 25-28 January. It will feature 20 NGO experts and academics, and will address global trade and financial policies, global governance issues and the role of transnational corporations. "The Public Eye on Davos" is a joint project of the Berne Declaration (coordination), Friends of the Earth/International, the Asociación Latinoamericana de Organizaciones de Promoción, Focus on the Global South, Genetic Resource Action International, Women in Development Europe, the Tebtebba Foundation, and the World Development Movement.