The Public Eye Awards: In Prosperous Times More Relevant Than Ever

Zurich and Basel, 11.01.2007 - On Opening Day of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Berne Declaration and Pro Natura will confer for the third year their Public Eye Awards for particularly irresponsible corporate behavior. Nine Swiss and international firms – among them Ikea, Novartis and Ruag – have been chosen from a record submission of over 40 nominations in three categories. One of them is the Public Eye Positive Award which will for the first time go to a corporation. Entertainer Patrick Frey will host the prominently-attended awards ceremony on January 24th in Davos.

The Public Eye, held annually since 2000 as simultaneous and critical alternative to the WEF, has long been the counter venue in Davos. This year’s awards ceremony will be opened by Jörg Sambeth, a former technical director in the chemical industry, implicated in the 1976 dioxin disaster in Seveso, Italy, who has shed new light on the incident in a recent documentary entitled “Gambit.” Other speakers include Gerd Leipold, Executive Director of Greenpeace, and Tony Juniper, Vice President of the environmental protection network Friends of the Earth International. Provocative overtones are provided by Swiss rapper Greis.
“Our anti-Oscars show WEF members and other firms that a critical general public is keeping a close eye on them,” says Oliver Classen from the Berne Declaration. “Because even during the prevailing economic boom, the plundering of poor countries and peoples remains a part of the business fundamentals of far too many corporations.” And Sonja Ribi from Pro Natura adds, “the Public Eye organizers have long called for legally-binding standards for international corporate responsibility. The social and ecological crimes committed by the nominated firms demonstrate that these standards are necessary now more than ever.”
Non-governmental organizations from around the world have nominated over 40 (!) candidates for this year’s Public Eye Awards, from which three short-lists were assembled. The nominees in the category Global Award are the Holland-based raw materials trader Trafigura, the Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone, and the pseudo-Swedish furniture multinational Ikea. Corporations based in Switzerland, aspiring to the Swiss Award, are the Swiss government’s own armaments firm RUAG, the Zug-based raw materials group Xstrata, and the pharmaceutical multinational Novartis.
The three hopefuls for the Positive Award, conferred this year for the first time on a company, demonstrate that there are also bright spots when it comes to the fashionable topic of corporate responsibility. The candidates nominated for their pioneering corporate initiatives are the Swiss retail giant Coop, the Dutch organic produce chain Eosta, and the British retailer Marks & Spencer.• Awards program, short-list nominations, and publicity video clip are available at