Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Mankind's biggest enemies receive hypocritical award in Davos

The World Forum in Davos hosted the Public Eye Awards, founded by the Association of the Berne Declaration and Greenpeace for corporations that were harmful to nature and violated human rights. This year's winners include oil giant Shell and investment bank Goldman Sachs. Shell has received the award for the second time.

It is assumed that the anti-award should scare potential clients and partners from winners, but what is the real effect of the "award?"

The Davos forum is not only discussion platforms and business briefings with politicians. A substantial part of events takes place outside official activities of the forum - at dinners, buffets, receptions, etc. It should be noted that not all of those meetings are as pleasing to their participants as buffets. The Public Eye Awards is one of such events. Greenpeace and the Association of the Berne Declaration have been conducting the event since 2000 for largest transnational corporations, "for most egregious crimes against nature and human rights."

This year's list of notorious winners is topped by Shell - for taking part "in most risky, controversial, and dirty oil projects", especially in the Arctic. Investment bankers from Goldman Sachs also stand on the pedestal of dubious honor "as a symbol of all problems in the modern economy." The list of winners has five other companies. Coal India was included on the list after there were 205 workers killed in its coal mines in 2012. Mining company Lonmin (South Africa) received the award for calling the police to shoot at striking workers. Security firm G4S, that had its reputation ruined during the preparation of the London Olympics, was listed for "numerous violations of human rights."

Company Repower (Switzerland) was awarded for its efforts to build a coal power plant in Italy, despite protests of the local population. Alstom (France) was in the "infamous list" for charges of "corruption scandals."

As you can see, the list of nominees and their sins is rather long: environment, corruption, human rights violations, etc. Such a wide range of crimes is due to professional interests of the founders of the award. Greenpeace does not need any introduction, but there are not many people who have heard of the Association of the Berne Declaration.

Founded in 1968, the organization has about twenty thousand members. Originally, it was an association of sociologists, economists and representatives of other social sciences. For quite a long time, members of the organization were trying to find ways to ensure more equitable and sustainable relations between the North and the South, which is a hard nut to crack for Switzerland. Nowadays, the organization is engaged in international trade and pharmaceutical industry, global finance, agriculture, and many others businesses.

The rich diversity and activity geography became the foundation for the anti-award ceremony to appear in Davos. The mechanism of the event is quite a  democratic one. The website of the award publishes the names of several nominees, from which the "winners" are picked. However, the democratic procedure, raises many questions with casual observers. Thus, it is unclear on what basis the candidates for the award are selected.

For example, after the oil disaster on Deepwater Horizon, it was not British Petroleum that appeared on the infamous list of irresponsible slobs, as one might think. The main enemy of ecology in 2010 was the Royal Bank of Canada - for  financing oil production from tar sands of Alberta. In 2006, the Walt Disney Company topped the list of "most heinous corporations" for refusing to reveal the location of its Chinese counterparts - so that human rights advocates could not check work conditions at those companies.

Organizers of the award, rather loudly proclaim their goal of "achieving justice for the victims of transnational corporations." They use anti-globalization rhetoric. However, this award ceremony is held annually in Davos, in prestigious halls, while all the other anti-globalists have to run away from riot police like rabbits.

Many experts are skeptical about the statements from the organizers of the  Public Eye Award that say that the award is meant to remind corporations of their social and environmental responsibilities. Moreover, it is doubtful that it can be a stain on the reputation that can scare away potential customers and partners. There is no bad publicity. The income of seven nominees for the year 2012 totals $43 billion."

Ilya Nikonov


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