World Council of Churches

Une communauté mondiale d'Églises, en quête d'unité, de témoignage commun et de service chrétien

Vous êtes ici : Accueil / Centre de presse / Nouvelles / "It's all about power": Ecumenical team at WSSD PrepCom underscores the need to regulate corporate power

"It's all about power": Ecumenical team at WSSD PrepCom underscores the need to regulate corporate power

29 mai 2002

"It's all about power": Ecumenical team at WSSD PrepCom underscores the need to regulate corporate power

cf WCC Press Release PR-02-04 of 29 January 2002

As the negotiations at the 4th Preparatory Committee to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (PrepCom4 WSSD) proceed, one issue takes centre stage: the consolidation and expansion of political and corporate power. "It is time to acknowledge this," says Wendy Flannery from the Sisters of Mercy.

An ecumenical team of more than 15 people from World Council of Churches (WCC) member churches and associated ecumenical organizations is attending the PrepCom taking place in Bali, Indonesia from 27 May to 7 June. The Summit itself will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August. Sr Flannery was speaking as a team member at a 29 May press conference jointly organized by the Government of Fiji, the WCC, the South African Council of Churches, Christian Aid and the ecumenical team.

The debt issue, as seen from an ecological perspective, is high on the team's agenda. Martin Robra from the WCC's "Justice, Peace and Creation" team, explains: "People and Jubilee movements call for the cancellation of foreign debt. But we should not only question the legitimacy of the foreign debt of indebted countries in the South. We should also recognize what the North owes the South after centuries of colonialism, slavery and exploitation of natural resources, as well as the resulting ecological debt - a debt that accumulated over the centuries and continues to do so at an ever-accelerating speed."

The ecumenical team recommends the identification and quantification of the historical, social and ecological debts owing to the peoples and countries of the South, not only in monetary terms, but in terms of the contamination and destruction of the affected communities' sources of life and sustenance.

Shanthi Sachithanandam from Christian Aid in the UK takes a critical look at the issue of energy: "Low-cost energy and cheap access to resources are seen as fuelling economic development. Highly industrialized countries gave those providing energy and other essential resources of industrial production special privileges and power. The lessons learned in the past about the dangers of global warming and climate change and measures taken, such as the Kyoto Protocol, are being taken off the agenda. They have been replaced by the naïve promise of "energy for all" without sufficient consideration for the need to move away from the carbon- and nuclear-based development path.

Regarding energy the ecumenical team recommends:

  • ensuring Indigenous Peoples' communities access to and control of their land and resources, including the repeal or reform of unjust mining policies and laws, and a moratorium on new applications for large-scale extraction activities and land acquisition in Indigenous Peoples' territories;

Looking ahead from Bali to the Summit in Johannesburg, Sipho Mtetwa of the South African Council of Churches asks: "While we are here negotiating text in Bali, the questions being asked back home in Africa are: Who is the World Summit going to benefit? Will it benefit the people of townships like Soweto and Alexandra outside Johannesburg?"

Communities in the global South have been and are continually being plundered through various forms of extraction and exploitation. Extractive systems, economies, social processes and methodologies from the North have grossly undermined these communities' sustainability, and that often in the name of sustainable development. Currently unequal power relations, the expansion of corporate power and corporate-driven globalization based on greed and profit motives have engendered abject poverty, social disintegration, economic fragmentation and environmental degradation.

More and more, the WSSD process is using the rhetoric of partnership, a concept that is of value within the lives of families and communities. True partnership is a relationship between equals. The first day of the multi-stakeholder dialogue in Bali saw the confrontation between those who promote privatization of services and social and public goods, such as water, and others opposing it. The latter point to exclusion and marginalization as detrimental consequences of privatization. And they oppose the expansion of corporate power into even more vital areas of life. Accountability to the public at large, and regulative frameworks for corporations are required before genuine partnerships can be formed.

Regarding corporate power the ecumenical team recommends:

  • a regulatory framework for transnational corporations, as proposed in the vice-chairman's implementation text, including mandatory compliance of transnational corporations with principles of corporate social and environmental responsibility, operational transparency, accountability, allowing access to information, and conformity with enforceable codes of conduct;

Regarding climate change the team recommends:

  • ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the time of the Johannesburg Summit and implemntation thereafter;

For further information contact:

Dr Martin Robra or Sister Wendy Flannery

At the Bali Gardenia Suites, Bali: Tel: +62 361-773 808; fax: +62 361-773 737

Mobile phone for Dr Robra: +62 812-367-9578

Email: baligardenia@bali-travelnet.com , marked "for attention" of either Robra or Flannery.

WCC Media Relations office (Geneva) : Rev Bob Scott : Tel: 41-22-791 6166 or 41-79-304 7612