Each of the 15 companies that took part in the project, Statoil included, put 50,000 USD into it. The aim was to get the poorest two billion people in the world into the market economy by the year 2020. This development, the project said, was to be carried out in a sustainable way. At the same time, the companies would gain access to the UN agency's international network of offices and contacts inside governments around the world, and would be able to benefit from the agency's good reputation.
The American Transnational Resource & Action Centre (TRAC) led a campaign against the project, mainly because participation in the GDSF would give the companies an image they had not deserved. Mark Malloch Brown has not offered any public explanation why the GSDF project was shelved, but Kenny Bruno of TRAC suggests three reasons: that the project faced broad opposition, that it had clear deficiencies, and that Brown himself had no ties to the project, which was initiated by his forerunner in the UNDP, Gus Speth.
Among the 15 companies taking part in the initiative were mining giant Rio Tinto, chemicals producer Dow Chemicals, the Novartis biotech company and the Swedish/Swiss energy company ABB. To the organisations who signed the appeal against the GSDF, published on March 16 last year, the reputation of the UN was an important concern. They believed that the organisation's reputation as an independent and credible authority could be harmed if multinational corporations with poor environment and development practices could flatter themselves with the organisation's logo in return for 50,000 US dollars.
(All the documents can be found at www.corpwatch.org/un)
Norwatch Newsletter 8/00