Successful «Public Eye on Davos» 2003

Davos, 28.01.2003 - This years Public Eye on Davos conference was the most successful to date with strong international and local Swiss participation. This success is part of an ever-growing world movement that is a progression from Rio, Seattle, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and the World Social Forum (WSF).

The WEF has attempted to respond to this world movement by creating the Open Forum and by changing the programme inside the WEF. But despite opening some WEF debates to the broader public, the WEF has defined very narrowly how global issues will be addressed. «Issues are not dealt with in a meaningful way in here. The bottom line for WEF is that it is really only the bottom line that counts, environmental issues and questions of global justice are at best secondary considerations», said Tony Juniper, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who is an invited participant in the meeting.

Representatives of civil society globally raise concern about governments' participation in the World Economic Forum (WEF) and its commitment to foster improved governance, transparency and fair dialogue. «Our governments must stop legitimising the destruction of our world by large corporations and must re-consider their participation next year», said Matthias Herfeldt, from the Berne Declaration and coordinator of the Public Eye on Davos conference.

This year's theme for the WEF was «Building Trust». The pillars of trust however - transparency, open dialogue and commitment - are not present at the WEF. The Public Eye on Davos, in the spirit of transparency and open dialogue invited Phil Knight, CEO of Nike, and Lord Browne, CEO of BP, to share their views with civil society within the Public Eye. Both corporations have representatives attending the WEF, but they failed to attend the Public Eye. «This is not building trust», said Miriam Behrens from Friends of the Earth in Switzerland, «it proves that corporations are not here to learn from dialogue with other stakeholders, but to continue to do business as usual.»

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, world leaders and corporations committed themselves to sustainable development. However, not four months later these commitments are the furthest from concerns from the WEF participants' discussions. There has been very little dialogue as to how to commit big business and governments to these commitments.

«The real agenda here in Davos in 2003 is about war, and how war will secure future revenue for oil companies and security for the continual growing energy demands in the North,» comments Andreas Missbach from the Berne Declaration disappointingly. «The WEF is sadly about the financial bottom line.»