Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU


The third UN Summit on Sustainable Development takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012, twenty years after the original meeting. Ahead of the meeting, corporate groups, powerful government and country blocks such as the EU have been promoting the concept of the green economy as a solution to the severe environmental and social problems we face. Although this might sound like a good thing, the proposals on the table are being used to legitimise a resource grab by the rich, threatening access to land, water and natural resources for the world's poor.

CEO is following the Rio talks and has been monitoring the build-up to the talks, focusing particularly on the corporate lobby groups that have become important players at these international summits.

We've also looked at the reality of the "green economy" that is being promoted and discovered beneath the promising label, the reality is a frightening agenda to privatise nature, seeking out greater profits and using markets and offsets in the name of environmental protection.

As has been seen with previous attempts to introduce markets for environmental benefit, such proposals are likely to benefit the few at the expense of the many - while failing to address the current model of consumption and production, which lies at the heart of the problem.

Malcolm Preston of business consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers was enthusiastic about the outcomes too, arguing that “during the summit United Nations leaders effectively passed the baton

The BMW cars are a classic example of greenwash. Electric cars are of course greener than conventional cars, but the BMW exhibition gives a misleading positive image of the company, whose main business continues to be selling petrol-guzzling luxury cars.

Encouraged by the recognition of the role of the private sector in the Rio+20 summit declaration, business lobbies feel the time has come to claim a stronger more formal role in the UN system.

The march stopped in front of the office of the Brazilian mining and dam construction multinational Vale. Demonstrators threw dozens of bags with red paint against the façade of the building, symbolizing the suffering caused by the company.

Corporate Europe Forum