Paris, November 18th 2014 – After the launch of the public vote on October 9th, Friends of the Earth France, in partnership with Peuples Solidaires – ActionAid France and CRID (Research and Information Centre for Development), put an end to the suspense at the Pinocchio Awards prize-giving ceremony this evening at La Java (Paris) and announced 2014’s big winners: Shell, GDF Suez and Samsung (1).
This year, a new record was set for the number of votes: over 61,000 votes in total, which demonstrates citizens’ growing outrage about the severe impact multinational corporations’ activities are having on society and the environment.
Shell won hands down for the Pinocchio award category “One for all and all for me!” (2), with 43% of the vote, for the development of shale gas projects across the entire world, except in Holland, its home country, subject to a moratorium. While this multinational company, like other big oil majors, prides itself on conducting its operations in accordance with “ambitious principles”, the reality observed on the ground, particularly in Argentina and the Ukraine, is quite different: lack of consultation with the population, wells drilled in a natural protected area and on farmland, toxic well-water reservoirs left out in the open, and lack of financial transparency, to name a few examples.
In the category “Greener than green” (3), the Pinocchio award was received by GDF Suez with 42% of the vote for its “green bonds”. Last May, this French energy giant proudly announced that it had issued the biggest “green bond” ever made by a private company, collecting 2.5 billion Euros from private investors to finance its so-called clean energy projects. However, on closer examination, no clear social or environmental criteria are associated with these “green” bonds, and the company has not published a list of the projects it has financed. It could even be using this money for destructive projects, such as large dams, like the one in Jirau (Brazil) the company mentioned as an example, and, furthermore, it is continuing to invest heavily in fossil fuels.
Finally, with 40 % of the vote, the Pinocchio award for the category “Dirty hands, full wallet” (4) was given to Samsung for the disgraceful working conditions in its product-manufacturing factories in China: excessive working hours, pitiful wages and child labour, to cite just a few examples. Despite repeated inquiries and questioning civil society, as well as the filing of a complaint in France, this technology market-leader persistently denies these accusations. The company should face up to reality and implement some practical measures to improve working conditions for Chinese factory workers and put an end to these violations of human rights.
By condemning numerous violations against human rights and the environment, the Pinocchio Awards have grown in importance since they were established in 2008, and they help put pressure on companies to make them change their practices. The scale of the event and its role in the public debate surrounding CSR this year has forced all companies nominated for an award to speak out publicly on the facts that have been reported about them (5).
Juliette Renaud, Corporate Accountability Campaigner at Friends of the Earth France, says: “Just a year ago we were celebrating the proposal of a bill on the due diligence of multinational companies, but pressure from lobby groups kept the government inactive on the subject, and this law has still not been voted or even discussed in Parliament (6). By setting concrete facts against companies’ grand speeches, the Pinocchio Awards are showing this year again that these loopholes are allowing companies to operate with impunity in France and throughout the world.”
In the opinion of Fanny Gallois, Campaign Manager at Peuples Solidaires-ActionAid France, “All over the world, men and women are taking action to assert their rights and get decent living and working conditions. By condemning the abuse multinational companies inflict, the Pinocchio Awards give these struggles a voice and call for our rulers to be responsible: it is time to make multinational companies accountable for the negative impact they have on society.”
According to Pascale Quivy, Director of CRID: “From year to year, more and more citizens from France and other countries are taking part in voting for the Pinocchio Awards. Our political and economic decision-makers should take this into account; the former by laying down restrictive rules for companies regarding corporate social, environmental and fiscal responsibility, and the latter by doing everything in its power to implement them, just as much on French territory as with their investments abroad.”
The Pinocchio Awards are organised in a media partnership with Basta !, the Multinational Observatory and Real World Radio, who have published informative articles and interviews on each of the nominees (7).
· Caroline Prak, Friends of the Earth France – 06 86 41 53 43 / 09 72 43 92 65 – firstname.lastname@example.org
· Fanny Gallois, Peuples Solidaires-ActionAid France – 01 48 58 21 85 / 06 19 89 53 07
· Pascale Quivy, CRID – 01 44 72 89 76 / 06 15 44 13 44 – email@example.com
(1) In total, nine companies were nominated. A description of each of the cases reported in 2014 is available here.
(2) “One for all and all for me!”: prize awarded to the company which has the most aggressive policy in terms of appropriation, exploitation or destruction of natural resources.
The two other nominees were Total and Crédit Agricole.
(3) “Greener than green”: prize awarded to the company which has led the most abusive and misleading communication campaign in regard to its actual activities.
The two other nominees were EDF and Pur Projet.
(4) “Dirty hands, full wallet”: prize awarded to the company which has the most opaque policy at the financial level (tax evasion, corruption etc.) in terms of lobbying or in its supply chain.
The two other nominees were Perenco and Lyon Turin Ferroviaire.
(5) EDF, GDF Suez, Total, Lyon Turin Ferroviaire, Crédit Agricole and Pur Projet answered Friends of the Earth France directly, whereas Perenco, Shell and Samsung responded via the Business and Human Rights Resource Center. The exchange of letters between the companies and the organisations bringing the cases against them are available here.
(6) This bill regarding the due diligence of parent companies and main contractors was proposed by four parliamentary groups and is supported by five main trade union organisations.
The full text of the bill is available here.
(7) These articles and interviews are available here.