Business lobbies hijack the third Earth Summit

Brussels/Rio, 19 June - Business lobbies have been accused of hijacking the third UN Summit on Sustainable Development which opens tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, pushing solutions designed to boost profits and guarantee business as usual, avoiding much needed tougher rules on corporate power.

An article published by the Brussels-based research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) argues that the UN's proliferation of partnerships with business has given corporate lobbyists unparalleled access to the Summit, allowing them to push business-friendly solutions and block tighter regulation [1].

Business groups use "greenwashing", citing exceptional examples of so-called good practice to claim that they can provide the solution and deliver "sustainable development" - while continuing with business as usual in most areas where they operate.

The article cites an example used by the World Business Council on Sustainable Development which showcases the activities of the German chemicals giant, BASF - which claims to be preserving ecosystems through a tree-planting scheme in Brazil, yet promotes and supports intensive soy production throughout Latin America, through the manufacture of pesticides, destroying soil fertility and polluting water resources.

BASF was also recently accused of misleading the public and European Parliamentarians when it was found to be behind a recent Parliamentary event on bees and biodiversity, which included a  bee-friendly garden set up as a publicity stunt outside the European Parliament. Some pesticides have been linked to the current decline of bee populations in Europe [2].

Olivier Hoedeman, who is in Rio for the talks for CEO, said:
"Our investigations have discovered an alarming level of corporate capture within the UN process. Rather than looking at how to stop business aggravating the environmental and social crisis, the UN agencies appear to have been persuaded by some of the dirtiest industry players that they have the solutions and that they should be trusted with the future of the planet. The agenda has been hijacked and as a result, politicians in Rio are unlikely to come up with any real solutions to tackle the pressing  challenges we face."

Hoedeman will be speaking on Thursday 21 June at 15.00pm in a side-event on corporate capture at the UN Rio+20 Summit [3].

[1] Rio+20 summit under siege by corporate lobbyists, Corporate Europe Observatory, June 2012
[2] A Trojan Bee? Corporate Europe Observatory, June 2012
[3]See: Corporate Power, Time for a Turnaround, Thursday 21 June, Room T-10,