Public Eye 'Awards' Companies That Go Against the Grain of Sustainability and Social Responsibility

Jan 19, 2012 4:32 PM ET
Campaign: CSR Blogs

Posted by Antonio Pasolini

The Public Eye Awards, a Berne Declaration and Greenpeace Switzerland initiative to shame the worst cases of contempt for the environment and social responsibility, is on again. The event is scheduled to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Darvos, Switzerland, later in the month. It will take place on January 27 (noon at Hotel Montana) when the recipients of the Global Award (jury selected) and the People's Award (selected by the public) will be "honored."

The six nominees in 2012 are: Barclays (UK), Freeport McMoRan (US), Samsung (KOR), Tepco (J), Vale (BRA) and the Swiss corporation Syngenta. Online voting for the 2012 People's Award has already started. The short list presents the six most scandalous cases, selected by an expert panel out of a total of over 40 cases nominated by NGOs. Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics, will speak in Davos at the awards ceremony press conference about the global crisis.

The British banking giant Barclays, the world's fourth-largest bank, has been listed because of its food speculation activities. The organizers of the award say it has been driving up global food prices at the expense of the poorest. In just the second half of 2010, 44 million people worldwide were driven into extreme poverty due to rising food prices, affecting mainly women in the Global South.

Another contender is U.S. mining corporation Freeport McMoRan. It has been operating Grasberg Mine, the world's largest gold and copper mine, in West Papua for 45 years "without regard for nature or people." The mine produces 230,000 tons of tailings contaminated with heavy metals every day, resulting in a blanket of waste rock with a radius of up to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and up to 15 meters (50 feet) deep that kills everything in its path and threatens a World Heritage site. Greenpeace says Freeports activities lead to "frequent and blatant" human rights violations, including the torture of mine opponents.

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Antonio Pasolini is a Corporate Social Responsibility writer for Justmeans. A media graduate with a specialization in film and TV, Antonio Pasolini is the editor of, a top web destination for alternative energy products, news and commentary. With more than a decade's experience in journalism, Antonio has written on a wide range of topics, from technological breakthroughs by the brains at MIT to a trip to sustainable projects in the Amazon. One of his new projects involves an eco print magazine to be distributed from a selection of London shops.