If I bump into Professor Klaus Schwab, who started and still runs the World Economic Forum here in Davos, I will challenge him on the purpose of the event. Schwab has described the WEF as “a platform for collaborative thinking and searching for solutions, not for making decisions”.
The Davos meeting may not be a bastion of democratic or transparent democracy and participation, but it is a place where solutions should be discussed and plans made to tackle the cacophony of crises that our planet in faces. But important decisions can also be taken here, decisions by corporations, politicians or CEOs.
The time has come for this gathering of powerful people to address the escalating public frustration over growing inequity both between and within countries. It is time they explained how we will shift from primary resource consumption to protection; how we will shift to production processes free of toxic materials rather than being dumped into the environment at the end. It is also time for the privileged to explain how they will put an end to the corruption of our environment and shared global space for private profit.
I have first hand experience of how the seeds of good decisions and steps in the right direction can be made here in Davos. Last year, Facebook’s Marketing Director, Randi Zuckerberg heard Greenpeace demands to Facebook to “unfriend” coal and support clean energy. Randi listened and took our call – and t-shirt – back to Facebook’s office, and by the end of 2011 Facebook had agreed to support clean energy, committing themselves to having a clear preference for locations where clean and renewable energy is available to power their massive and energy hungry data centers.
We already know what the solutions are, what is needed now is leadership from governments, and commitment from CEOs to take urgent and ambitious actions to protect our environment, and to create a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren; governments need to start listening to the people, and not the polluters, or else they are consciously sleepwalking us into crisis of epic propositions, and jeopardizing all of our futures, including their own.
The Greenpeace energy revolution scenario, which was developed with business partners, shows that we can deliver energy to more people, especially the poor in developing countries, and cut carbon emissions by more than 80% by 2050 while creating more jobs in the process. This can be achieved through investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy instead of dirty fossil fuels and dangerous nuclear power. By implementing the Energy Revolution, governments could help businesses create 3.2 million more jobs by 2030 in the global power supply sector alone.
On behalf of Greenpeace, and all of its supporters I will be inside the WEF to hold corporations and governments to account and to ensure that the voices speaking against ecological destruction and rising inequality are heard inside the halls of the WEF.
Kumi Naidoo is Executive Director of Greenpeace International.
Pictured:A banner hangs from two chimney’s at a public power plant in the port town of Iraklion on the Island of Crete October 31. The banner, reading: “Stop Oil, Go Solar”, was hung on the chimney’s by Greenpeace activists (top right) in protest against Greece’s power supply. The environmental group is starting an international campaign to promote solar energy from the popular tourist Greek island. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis