Business Ethics Network
19 October 2006 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
PORTLAND, OR: The premier international network of corporate accountability campaigners the Business Ethics Network (BEN) has announced its annual BENNY Awards for outstanding achievement in advancing corporate ethics. The awards were announced at the BEN annual conference held in Sonoma County, California.
From the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, Exxons Valdez oil spill, Nikes supplier factories operating in sweatshop conditions, Enron, the tobacco industrys denial that its products are addictive, the auto industrys constant fight to keep fuel efficiency standards low even as the threat of global warming has become a reality, to the mining industrys fatal disasters that occur even after repeated safety violations, corporations play a dominant role in our world today with massive impacts for workers, communities, and the environment.
These are not isolated incidents of corporate misbehavior, stated Mari Margil of the Business Ethics Network in announcing the BENNY Awards. The BENNY Awards recognize outstanding work to hold corporations accountable and rein in corporate abuse. From industry to industry, corporations have too much power, which means workers, communities, and the environment have too little. The BENNY Awards recognize outstanding campaigns advocating for corporations to change their behavior and be accountable to their workers, to the communities in which they operate, and to the environment.
The 2006 BENNY Awards honored three campaigns:
1st Prize, $15,000: Think Outside the Bottle: Challenge Corporate Control of Water, Corporate Accountability International
2nd Prize, $10,000: Sakhalin II Campaign, Sakhalin Environment Watch and Pacific Environment
3rd Prize, $5,000: Clean Up Ecuador Campaign, Amazon Watch
The top prize went to Corporate Accountability International for its Think Outside the Bottle: Challenge Corporate Control of Water campaign, challenging the marketing muscle and political power of bottled water corporations. Its part of a larger international effort to protect peoples access to water as a fundamental human right.
This award is truly an honor for our members and activists, but it is also vital recognition for one of our greatest corporate threats, said Corporate Accountability International Executive Director Kathryn Mulvey. Corporations are turning water which has always been a shared, natural resource into a high-priced product that threatens the health and livelihood of communities in the U.S. and abroad. It has been gratifying to see our Think Outside the Bottle campaign mobilize consumers to tell Coke, Pepsi and Nestl頡nd other bottled water corporations that their marketing claims are all wet and that our water should not be for sale.
The 2nd prize went to Pacific Environment and Sakhalin Environment Watch for the Sakhalin II campaign to stop oil giants including Royal Dutch/Shell and Exxon Mobil from developing massive oil and natural gas extraction projects on and offshore Sakhalin Island in Russia. On accepting the award, David Gordon, Executive Director of Pacific Environment stated, Shells environmental and social mistakes on its massive Sakhalin-II project demonstrate why we need to improve corporate ethics. Grassroots organizations like Sakhalin Environment Watch and Pacific Environment, with support from corporate campaigners around the world, will expose Shells misdeeds until it acts ethically on Sakhalin and around the world.
The final prize went to Amazon Watch for its work to protect the Ecuadorian Amazon. Leila Salazar-Lopez of Clean Up Ecuador accepted the award. "Between 1964 and 1992, Chevron (now Texaco) drilled and dumped in the pristine Ecuadorian Amazon leaving a toxic legacy of oil contamination equal to over 30 times the amount of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She added, "Amazon Watch would like to thank our colleagues in BEN who voted to support our campaign. We accept this award on behalf of all of the communities who have been affected by Chevron in the Ecuadorian Amazon. We hope that this recognition is a signal for the final phase of our campaign - victory. The victory will not only be for Amazon Watch and our partners in the Amazon, but a victory for all who seek justice and environmental sustainability."
The Business Ethics Network is the premier network of campaigning organizations working to change social and environmental corporate practices. BEN, run by Corporate Ethics International based in Portland, Oregon, is a network of marketplace campaigners working to change corporate practices on issues including wages, health care, public health and the environment, treatment of workers, and impacts on local communities.
BEN members include the state PIRGs, American Rights at Work, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First, Friends of the Earth, ForestEthics, Rainforest Action Network, and the International Labor Rights Fund. Members have moved even the biggest of the industry giants Taco Bell, Philip Morris, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Home Depot to make significant change. The Business Ethics Network established the BENNY Awards in 2005 to recognize outstanding contributions to the advancement of corporate ethics.