Greenpeace activist (and International Executive Director) Gerd Leipold. Greenpeace shut down the Esso station in Wasserbillig, on the border of Luxembourg and Germany, as part of a nationwide protest.
Public Eye 2007 in Davos
Gerd Leipold, International Executive Director, Greenpeace
Over the next four days, we will hear amazing speeches in Davos,
and you might be tempted into thinking some sort of mass conversion
has taken place. Company after company, politician after politician
will lament climate change, express their deep concerns and claim
again to move away from business as usual.
In short: What might have been said at the World Social Forum a
few years ago, has now become the language of the World Economic
Forum. It seems like an astonishing step forward.
But let's not be naive. Climate change progressed whilst it was
being denied, and it continues to progress, now that is has been
acknowledged. While the chimneys keep blasting greenhouse gases
into the atmosphere, the hot air from conference rooms will not
make any difference to the real world, no matter how worried the
powerful of the world seem to be, no matter how many crocodile
tears they shed - here in Davos or in the pages of so-called
There is no doubt that the world is changing. And that's not
because the powerful acknowledge it, but because the exploitation
of planet Earth continues. We dredge fish out of the oceans faster
than they can reproduce, using destructive industrial fleets which
empty the waters where local fishermen once made their living
sustainably. We cut down ancient forests to grow soya and to
produce disposable wood and paper products such as toilet paper and
plywood. Our immense thirst for burning fossil fuels is saturating
the Earth's atmosphere with greenhouse gases causing glaciers to
melt, sea levels to rise and storms to become more destructive.
Wars are being fought to secure access to oil.
And make no mistake: Many of the people who indeed have changed
this planet in this way - and continue to do so - will meet and
talk here in Davos this week. But talking's not enough. They have
to take full corporate, political, and personal responsibility, and
act accordingly now.
What happens here at the WEF is no longer a private meeting. As
business leaders see themselves as the promoters of public debate
and decision maker, and as politicians from all over the world
participate, the WEF is no longer a private meeting. Agenda setting
at a private meeting is a predemocratic model. Therefore, we need
openness not just in a few public fora but for all forms of
creative protests of civil society here and elsewhere..
So, how can I justify my participation on behalf of Greenpeace
.in the World Economic Forum?
Simply because it is important that the agenda setting is not
left to the powerful. It is because those relatively few delegates
affect the lives of billions of people who are neither present nor
represented at the WEF. It is because someone needs to mention that
good intentions for the future do not replace the responsibility
for the past. It is because those corporations which make genuine
steps forward deserve acknowledgement and support - and those who
only want to do greenwashing, must hear on the spot that they will
not get away with it any longer. It is, because business dominates
so much of people's lives, that we cannot leave it to business
As the world experiences its biggest environmental crisis and
even the corporations slowly but surely become aware of it, we as
members of civil society face a huge task. It is up to us to create
the pressure that turns their words into actions. It is up to us,
to keep raising the demand for corporate accountability, it is up
to us to compare promises with actions, it us up to us to
distinguish real solutions from window dressing. We have to expose
exploitation and destruction and, by the same token, support
genuine change. We have to insist on and participate in the
democratic debate. We have to claim the space for those who are not
listened to and suffer the most from the environmental damage
caused by the actions, or inactions of those in corporate and
political spheres. In short: It is up to us to put rights over
power, care over money, peace over war.
This is what the Public Eye stands for. This is the message,
which it has spread for the last eight years very effectively.
Today this symbolic index finger right next to the world's biggest
business is more important than ever. I am more than happy to carry
this message over to the WEF.