WBCSD - General commentary
Here by way of food for thought is an extract from a long piece by Ian St. John commenting on the first report in this series written some two year ago. I bring it to you attention once again not to slam the WBCSD team, but rather to provide you all with further background on the kind of tight corner they find themselves in. What perhaps we can hope to achieve this time around is to take a positive step in fashioning and a new and much deeper working relationship between these companies, their industrial network (to give the WBCSD a name), and civil society. Again, it is hard for any of us to change our ways. And not least when we feel under attack. Proof of our success will be that we and they find some ways to move ahead together to advance the New Mobility Agenda in the way which the present urgent circumstances provide.
Date: 2002-10-11 22:50:31 PST
The WBCSD's 'Sustainable Mobility' project, focusing on the transport
sector, released its first report in March 2001.28 The working group is run
by major automobile and energy corporations, including BP, DaimlerChrysler,
General Motors, Michelin, Norsk Hydro, Renault, Shell and Toyota. The
project claims to develop a long-term vision of future mobility, but fails
to tackle the inherent unsustainability of continued growth in global
A characteristic feature of WBCSD projects is their attitude to civil
society groups with a moderate critique. This kind of 'constructive
criticism' is often included in project reports or on websites. The
'Sustainable Mobility' website, for instance, features an article describing
some NGO critique to the project's report, while highlighting that the
critics "acknowledged the report was not unduly biased towards the interests
of the auto and oil industries."29 This approach contributes to an open,
transparent and consensus-seeking image.
Meanwhile, those with a more fundamental critique are not offered any such space.
The 'Sustainable Mobility' website for instance is silent about Prague-based campaign
Group Carbusters, which has strongly criticized the project's corporate vision.
Carbusters slammed the project for merely promoting technological fixes and
the privatisation of public transport systems, while refusing to consider
the option of reduced mobility. After attending one of the project's
stakeholder dialogues, Carbusters concluded that "It all boils down to
another advertising campaign for their wonderful 'green' cars."30
The 'Sustainable Mobility' website provides information about the stakeholder
dialogue held in Prague, but is silent about the protest action held outside
the event.31 On seeing the activists, the project director's first reaction
was to ask: "Do any journalists know about this?"32
28.. The report was produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Charles River Associates
29.. WBCSD mobility report attracts fire from NGOs, 12 April 2002.
30.. They Say: People Desire Mobility, by Ivana Jakubkova, Carbusters.
31.. Participants entering the stakeholder dialogue were given copies of the Ultimate Greenwash Award which the WBCSD has received from Corpwatch.
32.. They Say: People Desire Mobility, by Ivana Jakubkova, Carbusters.