Top Stories

January 21, 2016

Corporate Reputation

Report: Most praised and criticised companies in the world

Volkswagen is now one of the “most hated” brands on the planet, according to a study into the corporations most criticised by NGOs over the last 12 months. The report by tracking agency SigWatch is based on an analysis of almost 6,000 global campaigns. Swiss giant Nestlé is the company most praised globally by NGOs, but also receives more criticism than any other food company, according to the survey. Marks & Spencer, McDonald’s and Unilever followed Nestlé on the “most praised” list. On the other hand, Volkswagen jumped to seventh place globally on the list of companies most criticised by NGOs, behind Shell, Monsanto and the World Bank, following its recent emissions scandal. Robert Blood, founder and managing director of Sigwatch, commented: “NGOs believe in a strategy of divide and rule. They praise consumer and retail brands and financial institutions when they do what NGOs want. At the same time, they strongly attack industrial firms and the energy and mining companies”. (Foodnavigator; TheDrum)


Walmart CEO in Davos: Ignore climate sceptics

US retailer Walmart is “leading by example” by slashing electricity use and excess packaging, according to its CEO Doug McMillon. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he advised business leaders to ignore those who dismissed the science of climate change. “At Walmart, we are very familiar with scepticism,” McMillon said. “It has got to a point where we just ignore it. Doing the right thing is good for business. Where the population is not like-minded it does not matter. The decisions behind the scenes improve the products we are making.” The retail giant pledged last month to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in line with efforts to limit global warming to 2°C. It was among 114 major companies committing to science-based targets at COP21. Critics say it has not lived up to previous green promises, however. A 2013 report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found its emissions had risen over the previous decade and it was more carbon intensive than competing chains. Defending its record, the company pointed out its emission rose 10 percent from 2005 to 2011, slower than sales growth at 44 percent, showing improved efficiency. (Climate Home)


To fight ‘superbugs,’ drug makers call for incentives to develop antibiotics

More than 80 pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies from around the world are calling for new economic models to spur development of urgently needed new antibiotics and to fight the rising global threat of drug-resistant “superbugs.” In a declaration released today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the companies say that governments must work with companies to fight the problem of antimicrobial resistance by developing new ways of paying for drug development. The signers of the declaration include AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer as well as some smaller biotech companies and generic manufacturers in India. As antibiotics are typically used for a week or two to cure an infection and generally have low prices, it is far more lucrative for companies to develop drugs for cancer or chronic diseases. The declaration states that the price of antibiotics “does not reflect the benefits they bring to society, nor the investment required for their creation”. (New York Times)

International Development

Gates Foundation accused of “dangerously skewing” aid priorities

The Gates Foundation, the world’s largest charitable foundation, should be subject to an international investigation over its close links to the corporate sector, argues a controversial new report. UK campaign group Global Justice Now says the Foundation’s “ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation” is skewing the direction of international development in an undemocratic and unaccountable fashion. Lauded for their work in eradicating polio and malaria, amongst other diseases, the report accuses the Gates Foundation of promoting privatised health, education and agriculture at the expense of the world’s poor. It argues that the Foundation’s emphasis on “technological solutions” often ignores the need for systemic social, economic and political change. The Gates Foundation said the report “misrepresented” its work. “Our mission is to improve quality of life for the world’s poorest people. This is a complex challenge, and solving it will require a range of approaches as well as the collaboration of governments, NGOs, academic institutions, for-profit companies and philanthropic organisations,” it said. (The Independent)


2015: hottest year in historical record

Scientists at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) reported Wednesday that 2015 was the hottest year in the historical record by far, breaking a mark set only the year before – a burst of heat that has continued into the new year and is roiling weather patterns all over the world. In the contiguous United States, the year was the second-warmest on record, punctuated by a December that was both the hottest and the wettest since record-keeping began. One result has been a wave of unusual winter floods coursing down the Mississippi River watershed. Scientists started predicting a global temperature record months ago, in part because an El Niño weather pattern, one of the largest in a century, is releasing an immense amount of heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere. But the bulk of the record-setting heat, they say, is a consequence of the long-term planetary warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. “The whole system is warming up, relentlessly,” said Gerald A. Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. (The New York Times)


Image Source: Antibiotic Drugs by Global Panorama / CC BY-SA 2.0