Environmental Justice Action in Southern Africa


People’s Action for Corporate Accountability

We, members of the under-signed organisations and delegates to the groundWork ‘Corporate Accountability Week’ held in Sandton, South Africa, in August 2002 on the eve of the World Summit on Sustainable Development,


That corporate accountability is an important element in struggles for sustainable development and works alongside struggles for indigenous rights, women’s rights, environmental justice and equity for the global South,

Many of the communities represented here have direct experience of corporate abuse  - for example, in Bophal, India, in Norco, USA, in the Rivers States, Nigeria, in Sasolburg, South Africa, in Villa Carioca, Brazil in Tenessarime, Burma, to name but a few,

The concentration of power in giant corporations too often leads to people being dispossessed of their rights and resources, and to national economies and global trade rules being subordinated to corporate interests,

Currently there are no legally-binding rules and obligations to regulate corporates - especially in critical areas of social and environmental concern,

Our commitment to people-centred development which is equitable and sustainable and which secures social and environmental justice for all, and

The growing scale and power of corporations globally,

The negative impacts of corporate abuses on people, communities, livelihoods, and environments,

The undue and abusive influence of corporations over policy-making at national and international levels,

The lack of democratic control and effective regulation of the activities of corporations,
The profound inadequacy of voluntary and self-regulatory mechanisms to address these issues,

The negligent failure of governments world wide and international institutions to develop and implement appropriate rules and mechanisms to serve the public interest in the face of egregious corporate abuses of the environment and human rights, and

That these factors pose a grave and imminent threat to human rights, environmental justice and people-centred development, and

Having heard

Direct accounts of local community experiences of corporate abuse,

Of varied and inspiring campaigns, struggles and activities by people’s organisations that respond to and resist corporate abuse,

Of the efforts to strive for national and international controls that establish liability for corporate activity and that roll back the excessive powers of corporations, and

The consistent call for corporations to be more publicly accountable,

Call upon

Governments to immediately address the impact of corporate abuse by developing national and international:

  • actionable rights for citizens and communities in relation to corporations which guarante

  •  effective participation in decision-making, which to be meaningful must include provisions for the right to say no,

  • access to information on corporate activities,

  • prior informed consent,

  • the right to demand moratoria against unsustainable industry,

  • compensation, reparation and remediation from corporate abuse, and

  • community rights in land and other resources, including those rights which are often subordinated to investor ‘rights’, including rights in common property resources and global commons, and rights against being displaced in the interest of corporate profit,

  • binding rules for corporations which establish

  • accountability to the highest social, labour and environmental standards, and

  • liability and compensation for the impacts of their activities on people and environments,

  • mechanisms for enforcement to secure compliance and penalise abuse,

  • mechanisms to phase out unsustainable industries and practices and phasing in safe alternatives,

  • mechanisms to identify and eliminate perverse subsidies to corporations, and

  • systems for monitoring, assessing and verifying corporate behaviour and impacts, with the results transparent and available to the public

Resolve to
Work together at all levels to ensure a common focus and greater coordination on corporate accountability, to build an even stronger and wider global movement taking these issues forward, and to share experiences, learnings, information and victories to secure environmental justice and people-centred development.

Organisational endorsement:
African Institute of Corporate Citizenship
Asociancion Censat Agua Viva
Bryanston Residents and Ratepayers Association
Bus Riders Union (USA)
Campagna per La Riforma Della Banca Mondiale
Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment
Centre for Environmental Health
Chatsworth Steering Committee
Christian Aid
Citizens Network for Sustainable Development  
Concerned Citizens of Norco (USA)
Conservation International Liberia
Corporate Europe Observatory
Earthlife Africa
Environmental Liaison Centre International
Environmental Monitoring Group
Environmental Rights Action (Nigeria)
EarthRights International
Federacion de Trabajadores Fabriles de Cochabamba
Friends of the Earth International
Global Anti Incineration Alliance
Global Community Monitor (USA)
Global Greengrants Fund
Greater Edendale Environmental Network
Greenpeace International
Highveld East Community Environmental Association
Horn of Africa Relief and Development Organisation
Institute for Agriculture and Trade and Policy
International Simultaneous Policy Organisation
Just 1 World (Canada)
Kuraman Asbestos Sufferers Association
Livaningo (Mozambique)
Municipal Services Project
National Alliance of People’s Movements
Northern Communities Public Affairs Committee
Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa
People and Water
Peoples United for a Better Oakland
Polaris Institute
Rising Tide
Sasolburg Environmental Committee
Sobantu Environmental Desk
The Society for Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility (Canada)
SOS - Forets
South African Exchange Programme on Environmental Justice
South African New Economics Foundation
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
Steel Valley Crisis Committee
Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Project
Table View Residents Association
Thandulwazi Youth Society Ndwedwe
Third World Network
Transnational Institute
Wildlife and Environment Society of Southern Africa
Yonge Nawe (Swaziland)
An Taisce