Coca-Cola Undermines UN Global Compact
Keynote at Leaders Summit Mocks Corporate Social Responsibility
For Immediate Release
July 4, 2007
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +1 415 336 7584 E: info@IndiaResource.org
San Francisco (July 4, 2007): The inclusion of the
Coca-Cola company in the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit
-underway in Geneva on July 5 and 6 - has seriously undermined the
credibility and effectiveness of the Global Compact.
The United Nations Global Compact is the world's largest voluntary
corporate responsibility initiative with a goal to create a "more
sustainable and inclusive global economy".
The Coca-Cola company, which continues to violate a number of the
UN Global Compact principles in its operations in India, is set to
deliver a keynote address at the Leaders Summit, making a mockery
of corporate social responsibility.
The Coca-Cola company has been accused by communities in India of
draining precious water resources as well as polluting the land and
water, and one of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India has
been shut down since March 2004 as a result.
A growing international campaign to hold the company accountable for
its abuses in India has resulted in the company being removed from
over 20 colleges and universities in the US, UK and Canada. The company
has also been dropped from the socially responsible investment fund
of TIAA-CREF, the largest pension fund in the world.
The Coca-Cola company joined the Global Compact only in March 2006
- primarily as a tactic designed to deflect the growing criticism
of its operations in India.
"The Coca-Cola company is using the United Nations Global Compact
to hide behind its crimes in India," said Amit Srivastava of the India
Resource Center, an international campaigning organization that works
directly with communities in India.
"Coca-Cola's participation goes against the original intent of the
UN Global Compact to create a sustainable and inclusive economy, and
an egregious company like Coca-Cola delivering a keynote address at
the Leaders Summit is the height of hypocrisy," he continued.
In spite of the growing amount of evidence implicating the Coca-Cola
company's operations in India for causing water shortages and pollution,
the company has resorted to an extensive pubic relations drive to
address the issues in India. Announcing their membership in the UN
Global Compact has featured prominently in their public relations
drive. This is a far cry from what is being demanded of the company
The Global Compact is based on ten principles - on human rights, environment,
workers' rights and transparency-which the companies are expected
to follow on a voluntary basis.
The Coca-Cola company has located many of its bottling plants in "drought-prone"
areas in India, which have led to a further exacerbation of the already
existing water crises in these areas. Government studies in India
have confirmed dropping water levels around Coca-Cola's bottling plants.
Particularly affected are farmers who live around Coca-Cola's bottling
plants, who not only have seen the water resources drying up to meet
their basic water needs, but also water for farming.
The company also continues to discharge its waste into the surrounding
communities, and government studies have confirmed the poisoning of
the land and the water.
Taken together, the increasing scarcity of water and the poisoning
of the scarce remaining water and land has had dramatic consequences,
leading to the loss of livelihoods for thousands in India.
By destroying natural resources and the local economy, and by causing
severe hardships to the community, the Coca-Cola violates a number
of Global Compact principles in India.
"The very fact that the Global Compact is voluntary - there are no
enforcement mechanisms - is its Achilles Heel. It allows companies
with abusive track records to join readily without any genuine attempts
to become more socially responsible. It has become a tool for these
companies to use the UN to get access to markets, and nothing else,"
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
The UN Global Compact is at www.unglobalcompact.org
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