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Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks Bring the Giant Sequoia Forests of California into Classrooms Worldwide

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 9:15am

Save the Redwoods League and California State Parks have launched a new digital field trip that explores the challenges, including wildfires, facing our giant sequoia forests. Giant sequoia, the largest living trees on Earth, are found only in California’s Sierra Nevada. Their massive size, singular beauty, and rarity have made them living icons of the natural world and subjects of global fascination. The new giant sequoia program will air live through the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students program (PORTS).  

PORTS is an interactive and comprehensive digital education package that has taught over half a million kids in California and 20 countries around the world about the ecosystems, wildlife, and the history of California’s state parks. The new giant sequoia unit was designed for K-12 classrooms, and it will be available through the 2018-19 school year.

“Bringing the beauty and magic of our state parks through the PORTS program allows students to be transported to a different part of their world, one they may not have even known existed,” said Director Lisa Mangat, California State Parks. “Partnering with the League to bring this digital access to more children will help expand their knowledge and interest not only in giant sequoia, but also to the diverse natural and cultural treasures found in California’s state parks.”

Through PORTS, teachers connect to media platforms provided by Microsoft Education Skype in the Classroom, Nearpod and Smithsonian Digital Learning Lab. For 15 years, students have interacted with State Park interpreters and League scientists in real time, viewing the parks related to the curriculum, fielding questions and responding to queries. PORTS meets Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, and it has proven invaluable in both teaching course material and preparing students for field trips to California State Parks.  Currently, there are 14 units of study offered by PORTS: redwood ecology, Hearst Castle, kelp forests, elephant seals, the Gold Rush, monarch butterfly life cycles and migration, redwood ecology, salmon life cycles, the science of habitat protection and restoration, state government, tide pools, weather and climate and mammal characteristics.

“PORTS is considered the gold standard for K-12 distance learning opportunities,” said Paul Ringgold, chief program officer of Save the Redwoods League. “The PORTS redwood ecology program has been extremely successful at generating student enthusiasm about coast redwoods. We expect a similar result from the giant sequoia study unit. Coast redwoods and giant sequoia have been with us for thousands of years and protecting them is a long-term commitment. We believe PORTS is an essential tool for developing conservation literacy among our future environmental stewards.”

Giant sequoia are the largest living trees on Earth and exist in only 73 groves scattered along the western slope of California’s Sierra Nevada — the last remnants of a vast Sequoiadendron giganteum forest that, along with coast redwood ancestors, covered much of the northern hemisphere.  Though most of these ancient and magnificent trees have been protected in parks and reserves, they remain vulnerable to development, visitation impacts, air pollution, catastrophic wildfire and climate change.

The giant sequoia study unit will focus on the two spectacular giant sequoia groves encompassed by Calaveras Big Trees State Park near the town of Arnold, California. League scientists will be on-site for the live video interactive sessions from October 8-11, during the League’s Centennial Celebration Week. The Giant Sequoia PORTS will be available until June 2019.

“Calaveras Big Trees is one of our flagship parks, a property that’s emblematic of giant sequoia ecosystems and representative of all the challenges that giant sequoia face,” said Brad Krey, the interpretation and education program manager for State Parks. “The new PORTS study unit will prepare students in classrooms who plan a field trip to the park — or, for those students around the state, nation and world who don’t have the opportunity to visit the park. It literally brings the forest into their classrooms.”

Editors please note, to sign up for the FREE giant sequoia digital field trip today go to www.ports.parks.ca.gov/register.

About Save the Redwoods League

Save the Redwoods League, one of the nation’s oldest conservation organizations, is

connecting generations of visitors with their peace and beauty. With more than 20,000 supporters, the League has protected more than 200,000 acres of irreplaceable forest and helped create 66 redwood parks and reserves. For more information, visit SaveTheRedwoods.org.

About California State Parks
The California Department of Parks and Recreation protects and preserves the state’s valued natural, cultural, and historical resources while providing recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating and off-highway vehicle activities. The department achieves its mission through grant programs and a network of 280 parks, which includes beaches, trails, wildlife areas, open spaces, off-highway areas, and historic sites.

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Seventh Generation Commits to Aggressive Science-Based Greenhouse Gas Targets, Zero Waste and 100 Percent Sustainable Sourcing

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 3:13pm

(GlobeNewswire) – Seventh Generation, a leading household and personal care products company and pioneer in the eco-friendly products space, has unveiled its sustainability commitments for 2025 and science-based target goals for 2030. Announced today at the Ceres ‘We Are Still In’ forum during the Global Climate Action Summit, the goals align with the company’s mission to transform the world into a healthy, sustainable and equitable place for the next seven generations.

"Seventh Generation's bold new commitments reflect the scale and pace that is needed to effect change and address the climate challenge," said Mindy Lubber, CEO and president of Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit organization. "As a longtime sustainability leader, Seventh Generation continues to raise the bar on its commitment to climate, rallying its partners across the value chain to do the same. We are proud to be a partner on the path toward building a more sustainable future."

The nine goals set forth focus on three categories; creating a sustainable environment, building equitable communities, and improving personal health. Specifically, Seventh Generation has pledged to achieve the following by 2025:

Creating a Sustainable Environment

  • Sustainable Sourcing: 100 percent of materials and ingredients will be sustainable bio-based or recycled and 30 percent of palm kernel oil will be replaced by non-land use, bio-based oils.

  • Zero Waste: 100 percent of Seventh Generation’s materials will be reusable and reused, recyclable and recycled, or biodegradable and degraded.

  • Reduce GHG Emissions: Scopes 1 through 3 (indirect and direct emissions) inclusive of consumer use – by 50 percent from a 2012 base year.

  • Protect Water: No water will be contaminated during a product’s life cycle.

Building Equitable Communities

  • Equitable Value Chain: All workers throughout our supply chain will earn a livable wage or better.

  • Equitable & Inclusive Communities: Seventh Generation will nurture the power of our collective individuality with a team that reflects the racial and gender diversity of our country at all levels.

Enhancing Health

  • Zero Toxics: All Seventh Generation products will be free of chronic toxins.

  • Right to Know: All home and personal care products sold in the US will disclose ingredients, including chronically toxic incidental ingredients.

  • Democratization: Seventh Generation will reduce exposure to toxic chemicals from personal and home care products among vulnerable populations including pregnant women, children and care workers.

“While Seventh Generation’s sustainability goals have always been ambitious, I’m particularly proud to announce the targets we are striving to meet by 2025,” said Joey Bergstein, Chief Executive Officer of Seventh Generation. “While there’s no clear path to how we’ll achieve these goals, we know that it’s imperative that we push forward to get there. It is critical that we each do our part to lead on climate change – future generations are counting on us.”

Additionally, Seventh Generation is looking even further into the future by committing to aggressive science-based targets, pledging to reduce scope 1 (direct) and 2 (indirect) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 100 percent by 2030 from a 2012 base year.  The company also commits to reduce absolute GHG emissions from the use of their products 90 percent and reduce all other scope 3 (indirect) emissions 80 percent by 2030 from a 2012 base year.

About Seventh Generation  
For nearly 30 years, it’s been Seventh Generation’s mission to help you protect your world with our environmentally conscious and effective household products. Our products are solutions for the air, surfaces, fabrics, pets and people within your home -- and for the community and environment outside of it. Seventh Generation offers a full line of laundry, dish and household cleaners, baby products including Free & Clear diapers, training pants and baby wipes, plus recycled paper products and recycled plastic trash bags, and feminine care products including Organic certified tampons. The company derives its name from the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy that states, "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." For information on Seventh Generation cleaning, paper, baby and feminine personal care products, to find store locations, and explore the company's website visit www.seventhgeneration.com. To read more about Seventh Generation's corporate responsibility, visit the Corporate Consciousness Report at: www.7genreport.com.

MEDIA ALERT: 3Degrees Hosts Global Climate Action Summit Affiliate Event: Decarbonizing Transportation, A Holistic Approach to Building Sustainable Communities

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:13pm

What
3Degrees will host a panel discussion on the revolutionary ways cities, public transportation agencies and private firms are working towards decarbonizing transportation and building sustainable communities.

Why
Climate initiatives across disparate industries have the ability to make a significant impact on improving quality of life for citizens and making a real impact towards decarbonizing transportation.  Guest panelists will offer unique perspectives on how their organizations are collaborating within their communities to tackle this complex challenge.

Who
Moderator:
Steve McDougal, CEO and Co-Founder, 3Degrees

Panelists:
Sam Arons, Director of Sustainability, Lyft
Holly Gordon, Sustainability Group Manager, BART
Ted Wheeler, Mayor, City of Portland

When
Thursday, September 13, 2018
4:00-5:00 pm, panel
Happy hour immediately following, 5:00-6:30 pm

Where
Galvanize (panel is downstairs in Speakeasy room)
44 Tehama St
San Francisco, CA 94105

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Benevity Data Highlights New Direction for 2018 Year-End Corporate Giving

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:13pm

Benevity, Inc., the global leader in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement software, today announced three emerging trends likely to impact charitable giving during the biggest giving months of the year: September through December, when 50% of all donations are typically made to charities and nonprofits.

Following a year that saw seismic shifts in giving, Benevity’s data suggests that 2018’s ‘giving season’ will see companies taking more innovative, people-driven approaches to their corporate Goodness programs. These approaches are shaping a new direction for how corporations engage their people in giving back and will help them foster compelling, purpose-driven workplace cultures while maximizing their social impact.

“As companies increasingly recognize the employee and customer engagement benefits that flow from corporate Goodness programs, many of our enterprise clients have already shifted their approach from a once-a-year, top-down fundraising campaign to one that pursues year-round integration of giving, volunteering, grantmaking and other prosocial actions,” said Bryan de Lottinville, founder and CEO of Benevity. “But that doesn’t change the fact that people feel more compelled to give toward the end of the year when benevolence becomes more top-of-mind and the holiday spirit inspires even greater generosity. This time of year presents a huge opportunity for companies to harness their people’s passions and desire to do good. And if they get it right, 2018 has the potential to set new standards for participation and impact.”

Data from Benevity’s client community that represents more than 10 million global employees shows that doing good looks different in 2018. The most successful and impactful workplace giving programs have become more:

  • Responsive. 2X the number of companies are running relief appeals for their employees—user-centric technology enables companies to be more responsive to social issues, tragedies and timely events, in addition to natural disasters.

  • Democratized. 67% more companies are enabling their people to create giving and volunteering opportunities for the causes they care about the most—the biggest shift we’ve seen this year.

  • Inclusive. Up to 80% of remote workers and internationally located employees are participating through easy, fun, prosocial activities—a significant increase over average remote worker participation in traditional giving and volunteering campaigns.

Last year, charitable giving in North America crossed the $400 billion mark for the first time. But despite that seemingly huge number, most people aren’t aligning their actions with their ambitions when it comes to giving back. For example, Americans are only giving half of their intended donations—about 3 percent of their annual income. These new giving trends highlight proven ways that companies can help close the gap between actual and intended giving, boost employee engagement and make even more impact toward the causes we all care about. What follows are some real-world examples of how companies are changing their approaches to doing well by doing good.

About Benevity
Benevity, Inc., a certified B Corporation, is the global leader in online workplace giving, matching, volunteering and community investment software. Many of the world’s most iconic brands rely on Benevity’s award-winning cloud solutions to power corporate “Goodness” programs that attract, retain and engage today’s diverse workforce by connecting people to the causes that matter to them. With software that is available in 17 languages, to more than four million users around the world, Benevity has processed over 2 billion dollars in donations and 10 million hours of volunteering time this year to almost 150,000 charities worldwide.

Media Contact
Amanda Orr
Kickstart for Benevity
1.323.601.5734 
press@benevity.com

What Works in Employee Financial Wellness Programs

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:13pm

Join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation for a webinar on financial wellness programs (FWP) and learn how your business can benefit by creating or expanding your FWP for your employees.

Nearly a quarter of America’s workers deem their financial stress as high or overwhelming, and about 40 percent of workers report they have more financial strain now, than at the beginning of the Great Recession. Employees’ financial stresses manifest themselves at work, resulting in absenteeism and lower productivity. Employers are recognizing the need to implement a FWP for their workforce and the number and sophistication of workplace FWPs has increased since the Great Recession. Employers now face an abundance of options and little objective guidance on how to choose the right program. This webinar will help employers of ranging industries, sizes, backgrounds and interests to learn about workplace FWPs and receive the tools and resources needed to introduce one to your employees. 

Register and learn more here: https://goo.gl/Ry6kS4

Common Impact Expands Leadership Team With Addition of Tara Cardone, Chief Operating Officer

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 3:10pm

Common Impact, a nonprofit recognized as a national leader in skills-based volunteerism, is expanding its leadership team with the appointment of Tara Cardone as Chief Operating Officer (COO). Tara will be a key partner to Common Impact’s leadership team and Board of Directors as the organization shepherds in the next phase of growth in corporate skills-based volunteerism.  This growth will help the organization meet increasing corporate and nonprofit demand for effective skilled volunteer and employee engagement solutions that deliver on business and community goals.

COO Tara Cardone joins Common Impact from JPMorgan Chase, where she served as Head of Employee Engagement & Volunteerism. She started her career at JPMorgan Chase in 1999 as part of a leadership development program and served in a variety of positions in both Human Resources and Corporate Responsibility. In her last role, Tara was responsible for developing, expanding and implementing programs that engaged more than 55,000 global employees in community service experiences that demonstrated the firm’s social responsibility commitments as well as helped employees develop leadership skills. Tara developed JPMorgan Chase’s first global skilled volunteer program, the Field Service Corps, a program in which employees from around the world work on financial projects with local nonprofit organizations for a full-time, three-week period. She has experience building a range of skills-based volunteer programs that leverage the talents of employees to create inclusive economic growth in global communities.

“We are thrilled to welcome such an accomplished socially responsible business leader like Tara at this moment of growth for Common Impact.  Her work at JPMorgan Chase showcases some of the most innovative and effective models for using skills-based volunteerism to amplify the impact of social sector,” said Danielle Holly, CEO of Common Impact. “Tara will bring critical industry expertise to Common Impact’s expanding work to strengthen the private sector’s role in disaster preparedness, resilience and recovery.”

Tara was also responsible for managing JPMorgan Chase’s workplace giving and disaster relief grant program and served as Chairwoman for the Points of Light Corporate Service Council Disaster Relief Working Group. Her experience in disaster relief efforts will support Common Impact’s development of new models of skilled volunteerism to address community resiliency and disaster preparedness, response and recovery challenges. As many communities face the increasing threat of natural and man-made disasters, Common Impact will work with nonprofit and corporate partners to design community resiliency solutions that leverage employee talents as a key lever such as technology platforms to assist with supply distribution, nonprofit business continuity planning or longer-term community
re-building efforts.

“Tara has been a trusted partner to Points of Light for many years and is a well-respected leader in the field of disaster relief volunteer engagement,” said Natalye Paquin, President and CEO of Points of Light. “We know volunteer engagement in times of disaster is a priority for the nonprofit sector and we are excited about the promise skills-based volunteerism holds for community resilience and recovery.”

Tara served as a Trustee on the Board of Coney Island Prep from its founding in 2008 until 2017. The first charter school in south Brooklyn, Tara helped grow Coney Island Prep from its inaugural class of 90 fifth graders to a K-12 school serving over 1,000 students in three buildings across South Brooklyn. Eight years later, those original fifth graders graduated from high school with a 100% college acceptance rate, outperforming the neighborhood averages.

Tara will be based in Common Impact’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. A life-long New Yorker, Tara earned her BA at Fordham University and her MPA at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

About Common Impact
Common Impact is a national nonprofit that works to build a society in which individuals and businesses invest their unique talents towards a shared purpose: strengthening the local communities in which we live and work. Founded in 2000, Common Impact has partnered with Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of the country’s leading nonprofit organizations to create this transformational change through skills-based volunteering. Learn more about Common Impact’s servicesimpact, and clients.​

Contact
Krista Van Tassel
kvantassel@commonimpact.org
415-676-743

Emerald Brand Launches Emerald Ecovations Materials and Licensing Division

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 12:10pm

Emerald Brand, known for its unique, Tree-Free™ and Plastic-free line of disposable products, has launched the Emerald Ecovations division, which licensees sustainable Tree-Free™ raw material and finished products to companies and brands across the globe.

Tree-Free™ material technology has been a staple of Emerald’s sustainable product line since the early 2000’s. With Emerald Ecovations licensing division in place, companies that wish to bring sustainable solutions into their own line of disposable paper and plastic products now have that opportunity.

The launch comes at an opportune time for brands that are heavily reliant on tree-based paper for their products or product packaging. Price instability and a lack of high-quality recycled material options have left many companies in a bind searching for affordable and sustainable raw materials. Market predictions show no signs that this trend will reverse anytime soon, making alternative fiber options even more alluring.

Emerald manufactures Tree-Free™ finished goods in a number of product categories, including towel, tissue, cup stock, folding carton board, packaging paper, molded fiber, and more. All manufacturing for Emerald’s licensing division is taking place in the U.S.

“The Emerald Ecovations launch is perhaps one of the most exciting launches since the Company’s founding. We can now bring sustainable materials and products to companies across the globe, which will result in an enormous environmental impact reduction. Broadening the scope of our Tree-Free™ material technology also gives brands a unique differentiator in a market that is, for the time being, still mostly dominated by tree fiber,” says Jaclyn McDuffey, Managing Director.

Early adopters licensing Emerald’s Tree-Free™ material production are already underway, with partnership announcements expected in Q4 2018.

About Emerald Brand:

Family owned and operated since 1997, Emerald Brand is committed to innovating through Tree-Free™, sustainable and rapidly renewable solutions. Emerald's innovations in Tree-Free™ technology and petroleum free plastics is revolutionizing packaging and disposables worldwide. Emerald's growing suite of 250+ sustainable finished products offers the workplace a healthier and more sustainable environment.

Our corporate solutions include educational forums, measurable environmental impact statements, and consulting services that are at the forefront of future movements in composting and recycling. Emerald Brand, in conjunction with Emerald Ecovations material technology group, will continue to innovate Emerald’s growing finished goods and retail packaging materials. The company’s mission of “Farm to Tissue®, Made in the USA" is on track to revolutionize the entire industry. 

Products are available for consumer purchase at www.emeraldbrand.com and for businesses at www.paradigm-grp.com

Disney Invests in Employees’ Futures with Unprecedented Education Program

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 6:08pm

 In January of this year, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced an initial $50 million investment in a new and ongoing education initiative aimed specifically at The Walt Disney Company’s hourly workforce. “I have always believed that education is the key to opportunity,” he said. “It opens doors and creates new possibilities.”

For more than 80,000 hourly Cast Members and employees of The Walt Disney Company in the U.S., those doors unlock now with the launch of Disney Aspire, a groundbreaking education program for hourly employees in the United States. “I am incredibly proud that Disney is embarking on this historic launch,” said Jayne Parker, senior executive vice president & chief HR officer for The Walt Disney Company.

The program will cover 100 percent of tuition upfront and reimburse the costs of tuition and required books and fees. Disney Aspire is designed for working adults and offers Cast Members and employees maximum choice and flexibility with their studies, regardless of whether the program and classes they choose are tied to their current role at Disney.

Disney has partnered with Guild Education, a market leader in providing higher education opportunities to working adults. Through this partnership with Guild, an educational platform and a network of schools will be available that offer a wide array of disciplines and diplomas—including college and master’s degrees, high school equivalency, English-language learning, vocational training and more. Working adults face unique circumstances that come with balancing school, life and work. These partner institutions offer multiple starts a year to accommodate the need for flexible schedules and cultivate an environment that supports the non-traditional student.

“At The Walt Disney Company, we strive to empower and support employees in their professional and personal lives. We are constantly looking at ways to help people realize their ambitions and fulfill their dreams, this program is the latest in that effort,” said Parker.

Chevron Facing Furious Backlash for Using Secret Court to Violate Ecuador Pollution Judgment, Say Ecuadorians

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 3:08pm

Chevron CEO Michael Wirth is facing a furious backlash from civil society and allegations of racism after his company used a secret trade arbitration court run by private lawyers to try to attack Indigenous peoples and farmer communities who won a $12 billion pollution judgment against the company. The three secret trade arbitrators – all older white males based in London and Washington – barred the Indigenous groups from presenting evidence, testifying, or even attending proceedings the Ecuadorians call “illegitimate” and a “kangaroo court” designed to help corporate polluters escape environmental liabilities.

A coalition of at least 40 civil society organizations and Indigenous groups in the United States and Latin America have blasted Wirth for violating international law by using the secret court to attack Ecuador’s sovereignty after the environmental judgment was affirmed by three appellate courts and 17 separate judges in Ecuador. (See here for signed statement and here for a blog on the Chevron Pit explaining why the secret trade court is “racist” for refusing to take evidence from the affected communities.) Four layers of courts in Ecuador – where Chevron insisted the trial be held -- found Chevron had deliberately dumped billions of gallons of oil waste into the rainforest when it operated in the Amazon from 1964 to 1992, causing an outbreak of childhood leukemia and other cancers that has killed or threatens to kill thousands of people and continues to contaminate waterways to this day.

(Here is a summary of the voluminous evidence used to find Chevron guilty. Here are statements on the secret arbitration from community leaders and lawyers. Here is acritique of the secret trade courts.)

Several Ecuadorian civil society groups led by the Amazon Defense Coalition (FDA), the grass roots organization that brought the historic lawsuit against Chevron in 1993, also demanded their country’s President, Lenin Moreno, strongly defend the affected communities as they enforce the pollution judgment against Chevron assets in Canada. That country’s Supreme Court and two appellate courts already have ruled in favor of the Ecuadorians. Moreno was asked by the civil society groups to reject an order from the secret arbitration panel that purports to obligate his government to nullify the civil pollution judgment won by citizens after an eight-year trial marred by Chevron’s attempts to intimidate judges, bribe witnesses, and delay the proceedings. (See this article by Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler on Chevron’s attempts to corrupt the Ecuador trial process.)

The decision by the arbitrators relied on false evidence presented by Chevron from a witness paid $2 million by the company and it violates international law and Ecuador’s Constitution and therefore cannot be enforced, said Aaron Marr Page, a U.S. lawyer and authority on the trade arbitration process. The secret trade court proceeding also was part of the company’s SLAPP strategy designed to demonize and intimidate its opponents as a way to escape liability given the overwhelming evidence against it. (See here for background.) No president or prime minister in a democratic society is allowed under the law to nullify a decision of its independent judiciary in a civil case as the three arbitrators are demanding, said Page.

Page, who has worked as counsel to the Ecuadorian communities, said that “by rendering its decision without considering the interests of the affected communities, the panel violated fundamental due process as protected by international law.” He also noted that the tribunal “shockingly accepted even Chevron’s most egregious false evidence, such as witness testimony that Chevron admitted to paying millions of dollars for and that the witness was forced to recant on cross-examination.

“The tribunal’s decision embraces the most tortured arguments in favor of corporate immunity, while ignoring the humanitarian crisis linked to Chevron’s contamination that has devastated Ecuadorian indigenous and rural peoples for over 50 years," Paged added. "It is truly an outrageous affront to legal norms accepted worldwide by civilized nations."

The private arbitral proceedings – called a “kangaroo court” by Indigenous leaders -- took place largely in locked conference rooms of luxury hotels where the Ecuadorians could not attend even as observers. One attempt by the affected communities to submit a "friend of the court" legal brief as an outside party was rejected.  Each of the arbitrators are private lawyers who reaped an estimated $25 million personally in fees after charging roughly $1,000 per hour for a period of nine years, said Patricio Salazar, the lead Ecuadorian lawyer for the affected communities. Their names are Grigera Naon, who teaches at the Washington College of Law at American University; Vaughan Lowe, 66, a London-based lawyer; and V.V. Veeder, a private lawyer also based in London. 

“This arbitral decision from an illegitimate court violates international law and is an attempt to obtain impunity for a corporate polluter that has devastated the lives of thousands of Ecuadorians,” said Salazar. “It is being used by Chevron for political reasons to try to taint a legitimate judgment now being enforced in Canada that held the company accountable for its environmental crimes. The arbitrators also used the humanitarian crisis in Ecuador to enrich themselves personally. They should immediately end this charade by disgorging their fees and donating them to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Ecuador caused by Chevron.”

Other Ecuadorian citizens and their supporters also expressed outrage.

“Chevron is once again up to its dirty tricks to try to block Indigenous groups from collecting on their environmental judgment,” said Luis Yanza, the Ecuadorian community leader who launched the case against Chevron in 1993 and later won a Goldman Environmental Prize, considered the “Nobel” of the environment. “This decision must be rejected by the world community.”

Paul Paz y Mino, a leading official from Amazon Watch, the U.S. environmental group in Oakland that works closely with the affected communities in Ecuador, said: "Chevron's claim before the secret trade court is the latest attempt by the oil major to evade responsibility and accountability for its toxic dumping in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and is yet another example of how corporate interests use every available means, including shadow 'justice' systems, to trample the rights of indigenous peoples and family farmers who have suffered immeasurable harm.

"The only legal proceeding that has reviewed all the evidence and heard testimony from the actual victims is that which took place in Ecuador – and Chevron was found guilty,” said Paz y Mino. “Chevron must respond for the harm it has caused, and the plaintiffs will continue to pursue enforcement in Canada and beyond until the company complies with the law.”

In Ecuador, the Public Ombudsman (Defensoria del Pueblo)—an independent official whose mandate is to protect the public interest -- demanded President Moreno challenge the order of the secret trade court. “The position of the government of Ecuador should be that protection of human rights and the rights of nature are paramount and that Chevron Texaco must meet its legal responsibilities to remediate the damage it caused, which has been widely recognized by every court in this country that heard the case,” the Ombudsman said in an article in the Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio.

The petition signed by at least 40 environmental and human rights groups also condemned the arbitral court and Chevron’s refusal to pay the judgment.

“With its twisted logic, the trade court arbitrators have woven a cloak of impunity for Chevron, trying to help the company avoid its civil liability to thousands of victims and to try to secure a taxpayer-funded bailout for its crimes,” said a statement from the coalition, organized by the Center for Social and Economic Rights in Quito. “The arbitral decision is just one more example of how investment treaties are designed to provide impunity to corporations that commit human rights violations.

“Those signing this letter wish to express our total rejection of the arbitral decision,” said the statement.

In the meantime, an analysis on the Chevron Pit, run by the legal team who won the case against Chevron, called the arbitrators “patently racist” in their approach to the case.

“The three lawyer-arbitrators in their ruling tried to overturn 17 separate appellate judges in Ecuador who affirmed the pollution judgment based largely on 105 technical evidentiary reports and reams of witness testimony,” the blog stated. “Ecuador's Constitutional Court validated Chevron's responsibility for its toxic dumping in a unanimous decision issued in July of this year. But the secret arbitrators have also done the world a favor of sorts. Their ruling vividly illustrates why the public needs to get rid of these anti-democratic, pro-corporate trade courts once and for all. No trade treaty should ever again have a provision allowing private arbitration for the corporate class.

“The double standard of the private trade court concept is amazing, if not patently racist as applied to the current situation in Ecuador,” the blog continued. “Chevron loses a case in a regular public court where it had accepted jurisdiction and then gets another bite at the apple in a Kafkaesque proceeding where the opposing party -- in this case Indigenous peoples and impoverished farmer communities who have the most important interest in the dispute  -- can't participate. It’s an outrage.”

Karen Hinton, the long-time U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorians, also took aim at the decision.

“This is a radical effort by the corporate class to protect its power to pollute with impunity in countries with weak legal regimes which is what Ecuador had when Texaco, later purchased by Chevron, went into the rainforest,” she said.  “The international arbitrators, Chevron and some of the U.S. lawyers representing Chevron have revealed their racism time and time again against poor people of color who live far away from them and do not have the financial ability to protect themselves. Chevron has dumped toxic waste in many countries around the world and it fears it might be subject to hundreds of billions of dollars of additional environmental liabilities that are not accounted for on the company’s books. That’s why Chevron is willing to risk legal violations to block this case.”

Background 

Chevron filed the trade arbitration action in 2009 against Ecuador’s government as evidence against it mounted in the pollution trial, which culminated in a $9.5 billion judgment against the company after it was found to have dumped billions of gallons of cancer-causing oil waste into the rainforest. Chevron had fought for years to have the trial held in Ecuador and had accepted jurisdiction there. (See this summary of the evidence.) The judgment is now worth roughly $12 billion with interest. 

After Chevron lost the case in its preferred forum, it threatened the Indigenous peoples with a “lifetime of litigation” and vowed never to pay. In 2015, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Ecuadorians could try to enforce their judgment in that country against Chevron assets, estimated to be worth $15 to $25 billion.  Two other appellate courts in Canada also issued decisions in favor of the Ecuadorians.  Those proceedings are ongoing and will not be affected by the arbitral order, said Salazar. 

In the meantime, Chevron and its lawyers are the subject of a criminal referral letter to the U.S. Department of Justice for trying to fabricate evidence to block enforcement of the Ecuador judgment. The arbitral panel relied largely on the fabricated evidence from a witness paid $2 million by the company for its conclusions, said Salazar.

The three private arbitrators in the Ecuador matter have in the past been criticized by civil society organizations for illegally interfering in the Ecuador trial.  All have refused demands to disclose how much they are charging for their services, but it is estimated to be $25 million each for the long proceeding that is riddled with conflicts of interest, said Salazar. 

Grigera Naon has been appointed repeatedly to secret investor arbitration panels by the Chevron law firm King & Spalding in cases where the government of Ecuador is a defendant. Naon has never ruled in favor of Ecuador and on two occasions wrote highly unusual dissenting opinions where Ecuador won to position himself to be appointed by Chevron in the current arbitration, said Steven Donziger, the longtime representative for the affected communities.

"An analysis of Grigera's rulings shows he has never ruled against a King & Spalding client, be it Chevron or any other client," said Donziger. "The man simply has no independence and it further underscores the many conflicts of interest with a secret trade court that is fundamentally illegitimate.” 

Page, the U.S. legal counsel to the Ecuadorian communities and an authority on investor-state arbitrations, said in reference to the secret arbitration:  “It is little wonder that this corporate dominated dispute resolution system is increasingly despised by people across the globe and is headed for the dustbin of history. The process has proven, time and time again, its utter inability to restrain its rampant pro-corporate bias and tendency to reach far past any jurisdictional bounds to intrude on national sovereignty and attack legitimate social movements that threaten corporate interests. The recent Chevron arbitral decision reveals the system’s excess and arrogance at its rotten core. The affected communities in Ecuador will continue their struggle for justice and will continue to insist that their rights as peoples and as private litigants be respected by the Republic of Ecuador and foreign national courts around the world.”

Don’t Miss the Most Important Sustainability Event of the Year—BSR18: A New Blueprint for Business

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 9:07am

The world is changing at a rapid pace. New technologies, shifting cultural norms, evolving economic structures, and unprecedented environmental threats are reshaping the planet. 

The business agenda is also changing, and the sustainability agenda needs to change with it. At the BSR Conference 2018 in New York City November 6-8, BSR will be discussing “A New Blueprint for Business” and exploring what path will enable business to thrive and societies to prosper.
 
The Conference will help define a vision of 21st-century prosperity. Over the next two months, BSR will continue to work with its member companies and other partners to shape this new agenda. At the Conference, BSR will share this thinking, inspire debate, and present leaders who are redefining what it takes to build a truly sustainable business that is resilient in the context of profound societal and environmental change.
 
Issues that have long been part of the remit of sustainability professionals are changing and becoming more and more central to business strategy.
 
In the last year, new concerns over privacy, sexual harassment, and human rights have made headlines and rocked business models. This year’s Conference will illuminate the ways that familiar issues are taking on new importance and presenting new questions.
 
It will also explore solutions to emerging issues, like the future of work and climate resilience, that already are defining what it means to be a sustainability leader. BSR18 will present new approaches that are redefining the way sustainability is practiced inside companies—within the sustainability team or, as is increasingly the case, by other functions and business leaders.
 
New ways of doing business will also be on the agenda. New business models are emerging every day, and financial and reporting models are in the midst of transformative change. Sustainability features more and more in product innovation; new purpose-driven companies are emerging each week with sustainability at their core. And, of course, new technologies and communication tools are radically reshaping the ways companies can understand and engage with their ever-shifting array of stakeholders.
 
What exactly is business’s role in a time of transformational change? What should the business voice be when issues surrounding race, gender, migration, and refugees roil the communities around us? What is the role of the CEO in expressing her voice on topics like climate change? How can business appropriately influence policy frameworks to ensure that the social contract adapts to 21st-century realities?
 
No business can stand aside while these crucial questions are being debated. The values held by the sustainability community—respect for all people, stewardship of natural resources, and transparency—have never been more important. And in a changing environment, values are more essential than ever. By applying these core principles to a new reality, BSR18 will chart a course for business that empowers and inspires forward-looking leadership.
 
Join sustainability leaders and change agents in New York this fall to explore what this new agenda means for your company and your role.

Media Contact:

Communications, media@bsr.org

Texas Instruments Grants $8.1 Million to Provide Access to Education in Under-resourced Areas Throughout North Texas

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 9:07am

Texas Instruments (TI) (NASDAQ: TXN) announced today that its corporate and foundation education grants total $8.1 million in 2018, of which $6.9 million (85%) aims to improve kindergarten through 12th grade science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. More than 155,000 area students and nearly 7,000 local educators are impacted by the grants, 97% of which target under-resourced students in the Dallas area. Grant recipients include a variety of nonprofit partners in North Texas, where giving back and supporting the community is part of the company’s legacy.

Less than half of U.S. high school graduates are ready for college-level math, and less than one-third are ready for college-level science.[i] Magnifying the challenge for Texas, the state’s eighth grade student scores in mathematics have fallen since they peaked in 2011, with only 33 percent of Texas students performing at or above proficiency levels.[ii] STEM skills are a requisite of the 21st century workforce, making the issue of insufficient STEM education high stakes, especially for unprepared students.

“There is a pressing need to help students deepen their understanding of math and science and to encourage and equip teachers with tools and resources that address that need,” said Andy Smith, executive director of the TI Foundation and TI director of corporate philanthropy. “We’re on a mission to increase the number of students who receive a quality education, which includes expanding STEM education opportunities to under-resourced communities and under-represented minority students and girls in North Texas. This includes working with like-minded partners to develop effective math and science teachers, one of the greatest influences on student success. Simply put, all children deserve a quality education, no matter their background and circumstance, and we are doing what we can to help provide that.”

Funded programs include:

  • A STEM feeder pattern within the Lloyd V. Berkner High School attendance zone in the Richardson Independent School District (RISD) in north Texas. The three-year program will be managed through Educate Texas, the public-private initiative of Communities Foundation of Texas, which is working with RISD to implement a “STEM for All” concept to reshape the teaching and learning of STEM subjects across all grade levels, from pre-K through 12th grade within the Berkner feeder schools.

  • Expanding the National Math and Science Initiative College Readiness Program (CRP) to two high schools in the Irving Independent School District –Nimitz and Irving. Through intensive professional development and coaching, the program will train math, science and English Advanced Placement® (AP) teachers to more effectively teach those courses. Success in rigorous coursework, such as AP classes during high school, is a key indicator of post-secondary success. In effect since 2000, the CRP is a proven methodology to increase qualifying AP scores and to improve teacher effectiveness.

  • The Urban Teachers certification program to recruit and retain effective math and science teachers. The hands-on curriculum is specifically designed for urban schools. The TI Foundation grant will support training math and science teachers in Dallas ISD, and in local KIPP and Urban Teachers charter schools.

  • A new, advanced STEM education program for public school principals through the University of North Texas at Dallas Emerging Teacher Institute. The program is implementing an innovative approach to preparing the next generation of school leaders to nurture school campuses to achieve uncommon STEM and Career and Technical Education outcomes for students. The program will train 30 principal candidates, providing them with graduate degrees and principal certifications.

Other supported initiatives include: KIPP Texas Public Schools in the DFW area, a public charter school network that is currently educating nearly 3,000 kindergarten through ninth-grade students in southern Dallas; middle school and high school robotics competitions -- a proven way to increase STEM engagement among participating students; and the Texas Instruments Innovation in STEM Teaching Awards for the Dallas, Garland, Lancaster, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson school districts.

TI's commitment to education, which dates to the company's inception in 1930, remains its highest philanthropic priority. During the past five years, TI’s philanthropic commitment to education totals nearly $150 million and joins giving with volunteering to grow more STEM-capable students. In addition to grants, TI encourages employees to give their time as mentors, tutors and other volunteer roles. For more information about TI's support of education please see www.ti.com/education. Read about TI’s approach to giving at www.ti.com/giving or in the Corporate Citizenship Report at www.ti.com/ccr.

# # #

About Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company that develops analog ICs and embedded processors. By employing the world's brightest minds, TI creates innovations that shape the future of technology. TI is helping approximately 100,000 customers transform the future, today. Learn more at www.ti.com.

About the Texas Instruments Foundation
The Texas Instruments Foundation, founded in 1964, is a non-profit organization solely funded by Texas Instruments providing philanthropic support for educational and charitable purposes primarily in the communities where TI operates. Committed to supporting educational excellence, the foundation works to create measurable, replicable programs and initiatives. The focus is on providing knowledge, skills and programs to improve STEM education and increase the percentage of high school graduates who are math and science capable. More information can be found at www.ti.com/education.

Advanced Placement® is a registered trademark of the College Board.

[i] ACT: The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2016

[ii] The Nation’s Report Card, National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2017 Mathematics State Snapshot Report: Texas, Grade 8, Public Schools. Report released April 10, 2018

International Tribunal Rules for Chevron in Ecuador Case

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 5:59pm

An international tribunal administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has issued an award in favor of Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and its indirect subsidiary, Texaco Petroleum Company (TexPet), finding that the Republic of Ecuador violated its obligations under international treaties, investment agreements and international law.  The tribunal unanimously held that a $9.5 billion judgment rendered against Chevron in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in 2011 was procured through fraud, bribery and corruption and was based on claims that had been already settled and released by the Republic of Ecuador years earlier.  The tribunal concluded that the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment “violates international public policy” and “should not be recognised or enforced by the courts of other States.”  As a matter of international law, this award confirms Chevron is not obliged to comply with the Ecuadorian judgment.

The tribunal held that Ecuador breached its obligations under a 1995 settlement agreement releasing TexPet and its affiliates from public environmental claims—the same claims on which the $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment is exclusively based.  The tribunal found “TexPet spent approximately $40 million in environmental remediation and community development under the 1995 Settlement Agreement” carried out by a “well-known engineering firm specializing in environmental remediation” and that Ecuador in 1998 executed a final release agreement “certifying that TexPet had performed all of its obligations under the 1995 Settlement Agreement.”  The tribunal found “no cogent evidence” supporting Ecuador’s claim that TexPet failed to comply with the terms of the remediation plan approved by Ecuador.  To the contrary, the award recites the sworn testimony of Ecuadorian officials that TexPet’s “technical work and environmental work was done well,” while Ecuador’s national oil company “during more than three decades, had done absolutely nothing” to address its own environmental remediation obligations in the area, even though Ecuador and its national oil company received 97.3% of the oil production revenues from the project.  The award further recounts in detail the testimony of numerous former members of the plaintiffs’ environmental team and scientific experts who admitted under oath that they found no evidence to support the plaintiffs’ environmental claims against Chevron and TexPet. 

“An esteemed international tribunal, including an arbitrator appointed by Ecuador, has unanimously confirmed that, following completion of an agreed environmental remediation program, Chevron was released by the Republic of Ecuador from the environmental claims that the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment purports to address,” said R. Hewitt Pate, Chevron vice president and general counsel.  “Following years of litigation, including visits to the former area of operations by the tribunal, the tribunal found that Ecuador violated the final release agreement that had certified the successful completion of TexPet’s remediation.”

The tribunal also reached the same conclusion as U.S. courts regarding the issue of judicial fraud.  “The tribunal found extensive evidence of fraud and corruption by members of the Ecuadorian judiciary acting in collusion with American and Ecuadorian lawyers.  This award is consistent with rulings by courts in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Gibraltar confirming that the Ecuadorian judgment is unenforceable in any country that respects the rule of law,” said Pate.  “Indeed, the tribunal explicitly found that it would be contrary to international law for the courts of any other State to recognize or enforce the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment.” 

In more than 500 pages, the tribunal’s award details the evidence of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ legal team’s fraud and corruption in Ecuador, finding the evidence to be “overwhelming.”  The tribunal concluded:  “Short of a signed confession by the miscreants . . . the evidence establishing ‘ghosting’ in this arbitration ‘must be the most thorough documentary, video, and testimonial proof of fraud ever put before an arbitral tribunal.’” 

The tribunal found that Nicolas Zambrano, the Ecuadorian judge purported to have drafted the Lago Agrio judgment, did not in fact draft the judgment but rather, “in return for his promised reward, allowed certain of the Lago Agrio Plaintiffs’ representatives [including attorneys Fajardo and Donziger], corruptly, to ‘ghostwrite’ at least material parts of the Lago Agrio Judgment.”  The tribunal described the conduct as “grossly improper by any moral, professional and legal standards.”  Finding that “judicial bribery must rank as one of the more serious cases of corruption, striking directly at the rule of law, access to justice and public confidence in the legal system; and also, as regards the foreign enforcement of a corrupt judgment, at the law of nations,” the tribunal held Ecuador responsible for denying justice to Chevron. 

The tribunal also found that the plaintiffs’ legal team had inappropriate secret meetings with several judges who presided over the litigation, blackmailed one of the presiding judges, bribed the supposedly independent court-appointed environmental expert Richard Stalin Cabrera, ghostwrote the Cabrera report on which the judgment relies for environmental findings, orchestrated collusive criminal proceedings against TexPet’s lawyers, paid bribes to former judge Alberto Guerra to draft orders for Zambrano, and devised and implemented a “covert” and “nefarious” plan to ghostwrite the judgment which then Judge Zambrano issued under his name in exchange for a promised $500,000 bribe payable from enforcement proceeds.

Comprised of three preeminent international arbitrators, the tribunal issued its award unanimously.  The tribunal’s award aims to “wipe out all the consequences” of Ecuador’s internationally wrongful actions, and it grants Chevron several forms of relief.  The tribunal orders Ecuador to take immediate steps to remedy its internationally wrongful conduct, including rendering the $9.5 billion judgment unenforceable, precluding the Plaintiffs or any interested party from enforcing the judgment, and ensuring that Chevron has no liability or responsibility for the judgment.  It also orders Ecuador to abstain from receiving any proceeds from the fraudulent judgment, and to promptly return any such proceeds that come into its possession.  The award holds Ecuador liable for any cost or damage to Chevron should the judgment ever be enforced anywhere in the world. Finally, the tribunal orders Ecuador to compensate Chevron for any damages arising from the fraudulent Judgment. The tribunal will address the extent of damages for which Ecuador must compensate Chevron in the next and final phase of the arbitration. 

Pate concluded:  “Ecuador’s executive and judicial branch officials are now different from those involved in the events at issue in this award.  Chevron takes no pleasure in any dispute with a sovereign nation.  The company invites the government of Ecuador to repudiate the fraudulent scheme and make constructive efforts to meet its own long unfulfilled environmental obligations.”

Background information

As found by the tribunal, Chevron has never operated or had assets in Ecuador. Texaco Petroleum (TexPet), which became an indirect subsidiary of Chevron following Chevron’s acquisition of Texaco Inc. in 2001, was a minority partner in an oil production consortium in Ecuador along with the state-owned oil company, Petroecuador, from 1964 to 1992.  Petroecuador took over TexPet’s share of the oil operations in 1992.  Pursuant to a 1995 agreement with Ecuador, TexPet agreed to remediate certain environmental impacts in the former concession area while Petroecuador assumed responsibility for performing any remaining environmental cleanup.

To perform the remediation work, TexPet engaged a well-known engineering firm specializing in environmental remediation.  The government of Ecuador oversaw and certified the successful completion of TexPet’s remediation and fully released TexPet from further environmental liability. Petroecuador failed to conduct the cleanup it promised and has continued to operate and expand its oil operations for more than 25 years.

Chevron filed an international arbitration claim against the Republic of Ecuador in 2009 pursuant to the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty seeking to hold Ecuador accountable for breaching the settlement agreement with TexPet and to enforce the releases.  Chevron then amended the claim in 2012 to include the denial of justice that occurred through the Ecuadorian court’s fraud and corruption during litigation and the resulting fraudulent $9.5 billion judgment.  The tribunal, administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, said the Republic of Ecuador violated its international law and treaty obligations by issuing, affirming, and enforcing a fraudulent judgment against Chevron, because the Lago Agrio litigation was marred by fraud, bribery, and coercion perpetrated by the Plaintiffs’ attorneys in collusion with Ecuador’s courts.  The award was issued unanimously by all three members of the tribunal, including Ecuador’s appointed arbitrator.

In 2014, a U.S. federal court found that the Ecuadorian judgment was the product of fraud and racketeering activity, including extortion, money laundering, wire fraud, witness tampering, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations and obstruction of justice. The court also prohibited enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment in the United States. That decision is now final after having been unanimously affirmed by the court of appeal and denied review by the Supreme Court.

Other attempts to enforce the judgment in jurisdictions around the globe have also failed:

  • In January 2017, a Canadian court rejected an attempt to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron’s Canadian subsidiary. An appeals court upheld this decision in May 2018.

  • In November 2017, Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice unanimously rejected an attempt to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment in Brazil. Brazil’s Deputy Prosecutor General stated the judgment was “issued in an irregular manner, especially under deplorable acts of corruption.”

  • In October 2017, a court in Argentina denied recognition of the Ecuadorian judgment.  An appeals court upheld the decision in July 2018.

  • In December 2015, the Supreme Court of Gibraltar issued a judgment against Amazonia Recovery Ltd., a Gibraltar-based company set up by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to receive and distribute funds resulting from the Ecuadorian judgment, awarding Chevron $28 million in damages, and issued a permanent injunction against Amazonia to prevent the company from assisting or supporting the case against Chevron in any way. The court issued a similar ruling in May 2018 against directors of Amazonia, Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia, Ecuadorian attorney Pablo Fajardo, and Servicios Fromboliere for their role in attempting to enforce the ruling, this time awarding $38 million in damages to Chevron.

Chevron Corporation is one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. Chevron Corporation’s subsidiaries explore for, produce and transport crude oil and natural gas; refine, market and distribute transportation fuels and lubricants; manufacture and sell petrochemical products; generate power and produces geothermal energy; provide energy efficiency solutions; and develop the energy resources of the future, including biofuels. Chevron Corporation is based in San Ramon, California. More information about Chevron is available at www.chevron.com.

Nespresso Revives Zimbabwe’s Coffee Production

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 2:59pm

Nespresso announced today a long-term investment plan to revive Zimbabwe’s coffee industry and stimulate the rural economy.

The company will provide training and technical assistance to 400 smallholder coffee farmers over the next five years, with the goal of increasing the country’s production of quality sustainable coffee.

Zimbabwe’s coffee sector is in danger of disappearing as the result of a sharp decline in production over the past 18 years, following a series of economic shocks affecting many of Zimbabwe’s agricultural industries.

Nespresso expects to buy more than 95% of the high quality coffee production of Zimbabwean smallholders this season. The coffee will be available to global consumers in 2019. Nespresso is already working with farmers for the next harvest, where it expects volumes to increase, marking a potential turning point for Zimbabwe’s coffee producers.

“We are investing in reviving coffee farming in different regions of the world, where adverse conditions have impacted the lives of farmers and their ability to grow and nurture their coffee industries. Zimbabwe has a long history of producing beautiful coffees and we are pleased to be working with farmers through our AAA Sustainable Quality Program to help bring this industry back to life,” says Jean-Marc Duvoisin, CEO of Nespresso.

Together with TechnoServe, an international non-profit organization specializing in business solutions to poverty, Nespresso is training farmers to revive their production through climatesmart, sustainable farming practices.

“We are honoured to partner with Nespresso and the farmers of Zimbabwe to help transform one of the country’s most promising sectors and share more of its incredible coffee with the world,” said TechnoServe President and CEO William Warshauer. “In line with TechnoServe’s market-centered approach to reducing poverty, we know that better coffee will lead to better incomes, better lives, and better futures for the hardworking people of Zimbabwe.”

The revival of the Zimbabwean coffee industry is part of Nespresso’s commitment to investing in coffee communities to create sustainable sources of income, preserve the environment and ensure coffee availability for future generations. Nespresso’s investment in Zimbabwe follows similar efforts the company has made to revive coffee production in South Sudan and in former conflict zones of Colombia.

About the AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program

Nespresso works with farmers through its AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, which aims to create long-term, sustainable quality through direct relationships with farmers. Nespresso currently works with more than 75,000 farmers who benefit from hands-on support from agronomists as they learn how to develop their businesses. Working together, the agronomists and farmers look at the best growing and management practices for their crops, including technical assistance in agricultural practices to ensure quality. Through their participation in the AAA Program, the farmers are able to improve their coffee quality and achieve better productivity and standards in environmental and social welfare.

About Nestlé Nespresso SA

Nestlé Nespresso SA is the pioneer and reference for highest-quality portioned coffee. The company works with more than 75,000 farmers in 12 countries through its AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program to embed sustainability practices on farms and the surrounding landscapes. Launched in 2003 in collaboration with The Rainforest Alliance, the program helps to improve the yield and quality of harvests, ensuring a sustainable supply of high quality coffee and improving livelihoods of farmers and their communities.

Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, Nespresso operates in 76 countries and has 13,500 employees. In 2017, it operated a global retail network of more than 700 boutiques. For more information, visit the Nespresso corporate website: www.nestle-nespresso.com.

Ecuador Indigenous Leaders Criticize Secret Trade Arbitrators For Interference With $12b Chevron Pollution Judgment

Fri, 09/07/2018 - 2:59pm

Indigenous leaders and rainforest communities in Ecuador’s Amazon today criticized a secret panel of three private trade arbitrators for trying to interfere with the enforcement of their $12 billion pollution judgment against Chevron in Canadian courts under the supposed “authority” of the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty.

“This decision by three male arbitrators who claim the right to ‘judge’ Indigenous peoples and impoverished farmers secretly from the comfort of luxurious hotel conference rooms in the United States and Europe is outrageous,” said Carmen Cartuche, an Ecuadorian community leader and the President of organization that brought the lawsuit against Chevron on behalf of 30,000 affected peoples. “Their effort is little more than an attempt by the global corporate establishment to use unfair trade agreements to try to block legitimate social movements that hold serial polluters like Chevron accountable.”

“These arbitrators engaged a wasteful nine-year secret process that can only be described as a miscarriage of justice that is highly disrespectful to the Indigenous peoples of Ecuador and indeed to all victims of corporation pollution,” said Steven Donziger, the longtime lawyer for the affected communities. (See here for Donziger bio.) “The arbitrators personally reaped millions of dollars in fees to produce a largely irrelevant decision that is unenforceable as a matter of law and will be ignored in jurisdictions that are being asked to enforce the judgment against Chevron.”

Chevron filed the trade arbitration action in 2008 against Ecuador’s government as evidence against it mounted in the pollution trial, which culminated in a $9.5 billion judgment against the company after it was found to have dumped billions of gallons of cancer-causing oil waste into the rainforest. Chevron had fought for years to have the trial held in Ecuador and had accepted jurisdiction there. (See this summary of the evidence against Chevron.)

The judgment against Chevron is now worth roughly $12 billion with interest.

After Chevron lost the case after an eight-year trial in its preferred forum of Ecuador, it threatened the Indigenous peoples with a “lifetime of litigation” and vowed never to pay. In 2015, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Ecuadorians could try to enforce their judgment in that country against Chevron assets, estimated to be worth $15 to $25 billion.  Two other appellate courts in Canada also issued decisions in favor of the Ecuadorians.  (See here.)

Chevron in the meantime is the subject of a criminal referral letter to the U.S. Department of Justice for trying to fabricate evidence to block enforcement of the Ecuador judgment. (See here.) The arbitral panel relied largely on the fabricated evidence for its conclusions that is not the subject of the DOJ referral letter, said Cartuche.

The three lawyers who serve as the secret private arbitrators in the Ecuador matter -- Grigera Naon, Vaughn Lowe, and V.V. Veeder – have in the past been harshly criticized by civil society organizations for illegally interfering in the Ecuador trial.  All have refused demands to disclose how much they are charging for their services, but it is estimated to be $20 million each for the long proceeding, said Cartuche.

Grigera Naon, an Argentine who lives in the United States, has been appointed repeatedly to secret investor arbitration panels by the Chevron law firm King & Spalding in cases where the government of Ecuador is a defendant.  Grigera Naon has never ruled in favor of Ecuador, and on two occasions he wrote highly unusual dissenting opinions where Ecuador won to position himself to be appointed by Chevron in the current arbitration, said Donziger.

"An analysis of Grigera's rulings shows he has never ruled against a King & Spalding client, be it Chevron or any other client," said Donziger. "The man simply has no independence and it further underscores the many conflicts of interest with the secret trade court. Grigera Naon and the other arbitrators needs to disclose how much money they made from Chevron from this clearly illegitimate secret court."

Here are full statements from Donziger; Cartuche; and Aaron Page, a U.S. lawyer for the affected Ecuadorian communities who is an authority on international arbitration matters.

Statement from Carmen Cartuche, President of the Amazon Defense Coalition (FDA), the grass roots organization of Indigenous peoples and farmer communities that won the lawsuit against Chevron:

This decision by three male arbitrators who claim they have a right to “judge” Indigenous peoples and impoverished farmers secretly from the comfort of luxurious hotel conference rooms in the United States and Europe is outrageous. Their decision is an attempt by the global corporate establishment to use unfair trade agreements try to block legitimate social movements. Our campaign held an American corporation accountable for its environmental crimes and fraud committed on our ancestral lands. The three arbitrators did not consult with us, ask for testimony, or otherwise respect the basic existence of those harmed by Chevron. This decision is legally irrelevant and will be ignored by the world as the travesty of justice that it is. It will not block our litigation to hold Chevron accountable in Canada so that just compensation can be paid to the thousands of people who have died of cancer or otherwise been harmed by the slow genocide the company is imposing on our country.

Donziger’s full statement is here:

The findings of the private arbitrators who met in secret and did not accept the Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples as a party are deeply flawed and rest almost completely on fraudulent evidence produced by Chevron to hide its massive toxic dumping in Ecuador’s rainforest as found by four layers of courts in that country. Seventeen separate appellate judges in Ecuador, including the country’s entire Constitutional Court, have rejected the factual basis of the arbitral findings. For these reasons and others, the decision is legally irrelevant and unenforceable as a matter of law. The arbitral decision will not stop the Canadian enforcement proceeding against Chevron, which already has been validated by the Canada Supreme Court and will continue to conclusion.

The latest arbitral decision also represents a radical and dangerous new assertion of corporate power over human rights via the increasing use of secret private trade courts that favor corporations over the average citizen. For the first time in history, a private trade panel of arbitrators meeting in secret is trying to nullify a legal decision of a sovereign nation made as a result of a human rights litigation between private parties that has been affirmed as legitimate by multiple courts. This arbitral ultimately will be ignored in Canada and other jurisdictions where the Ecuador judgment is being enforced.

Aaron Page, U.S. legal counsel to the Ecuadorian communities, issued the following statement:

In the recently released arbitral decision, a trio of British and American corporate lawyers and elite academics, repeat players in an Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS) explicitly designed to protect the interests of multinational corporations, purport to overrule lengthy and detailed decisions of Ecuador’s Supreme Court and Constitutional Court on issues of Ecuadorian law. It obediently swallows even Chevron’s most egregious false evidence, such as witness testimony that Chevron admitted to paying millions of dollars for and that the witness was forced to recant on cross-examination. It embraces the most tortured arguments in favor of corporate immunity, while ignoring the humanitarian crisis linked to Chevron’s contamination that has devastated Ecuadorian indigenous and rural peoples for over 50 years.

It is little wonder that ISDS is increasingly despised by people across the globe and is headed for the dustbin of history. The inclusion of ISDS has killed all recent attempts at new trade treaties, and ISDS is effectively dispensed with in the renegotiation of NAFTA. ISDS has proven, time and time again, its utter inability to restrain its rampant pro-corporate bias and tendency to reach far past any jurisdictional bounds to intrude on national sovereignty and attack legitimate social movements that threaten corporate interests. The recent Chevron arbitral decision reveals the system’s excess and arrogance at its rotten core. The affected communities in Ecuador will continue their struggle for justice and will continue to insist that their rights as peoples and as private litigants be respected by the Republic of Ecuador and foreign national courts around the world.

Global Compact Network Canada Recognizing Businesses for SDGs Impact at the 3rd Annual Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Leadership Awards

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 11:56am

The SDG Leadership Awards are Canada’s celebration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and an inspiration for business leadership. The SDG Leadership Awards aim to recognize Canadian organizations who are helping advance the SDGs and calling on other organizations to take their own stand towards empowering the SDGs. This is the third installment of the awards organized by the Global Compact Network Canada, the Canadian division of the UN Global Compact.

“We are honoured to be seen as leaders amongst so many Canadian organizations working towards the Sustainable Development Goals. CAWST’s vision is a world in which people have the opportunity to succeed because their basic water and sanitation needs have been met. This passion and commitment is shared by CAWST’s global network of clients and WET (Water Expertise Training) Centre partners. Success in the water and sanitation sector would not be possible without invaluable partnerships such as these. We look forward to new possibilities for collaboration with others who share this vision.” ~ Shauna Curry, CEO, CAWST

Oui STEM Academy strongly supports the United Nations’ Global Compact Sustainable Development Goals. We are honoured, humbled and excited to accept this award in recognition of our work to promote Quality Education, and Gender Equality among other import SDGs.” ~ Dilesha Stelmach, Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Oui STEM Academy 

The GCNC received over 1000 votes this summer and is excited to announce the winners in three categories.

 Winners for the Small Organizations Category

●      CAWST 

●      Economic Developers Alberta

●      Oui STEM Academy

Winners for the Large Organizations Category

●      Stantec

●      Frontera Energy

●      GM Canada

“We are proud to receive this year Leadership Award and be recognized for our commitment to a sustainable future”, said Doug Yates, Environment and Energy Director, General Motors Canada. “As we strive for zero-waste operations, GM now has 142 global facilities that recycle, reuse or recover all waste from daily operations – that’s more than any other automaker. In Canada, GM is the leader in EV sales with our Chevrolet Volt and Bolt EVs, and we are also committed to carbon reduction as with our proposed St. Catharines cogeneration project which will cut GHGs by more than 77 per cent at our Propulsion Plant.”

Winner of the Partnership Award

●      Frontera Energy

The following companies participated in the SDG Leadership Awards 2018

●      5T Sports

●      Alberta Council for Global Cooperation

●      BASF Canada

●      Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology

●      Economic Developers Alberta

●      Enviro-Stewards

●      Frontera Energy

●      GM Canada

●      Marcatus QED

●      Matrix360

●      Oui STEM Academy

●      Operation Eye Sight

●      Sherritt International

●      Stantec

●      Teck Resources

●      TELUS

●      Vancity

About the SDG Leadership Awards

Each year the SDG Leadership Awards highlight the business case for advancing action on the 17 SDGs, which address the most important environmental, social, and economic challenges of our time. The Awards presented a fantastic opportunity for businesses to showcase their commitment to sustainability and the UN's Agenda 2030. To learn more about the award applications for this year, please click here.

To be notified on next year’s application to the SDG Leadership Award 2019, please join the GCNC e-mailing list or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

About the Global Compact Network Canada

The Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) is the Canadian Network of the United Nations Global Compact - the world's largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. The GCNC is spearheading the 10 Principles of the UNGC and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In doing so, it unifies and builds the capacity of the Canadian private sector to embrace sustainable business practices by convening and accelerating opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaboration.

For more information, contact:

Jules Zhao, Program and Marketing Manager, Global Compact Network Canada 647-715-9426 ex 104 | jules@globalcompact.ca www.globalcompact.ca | @globalcompactCA

Toxnot Chosen to be Platform for Creation of ILFI Declare Labels

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 8:55am

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) has selected Toxnot as the software platform for the creation of Declare Labels. Toxnot is a chemical management innovator, enabling users to collect chemical data, compare chemical hazard profiles, optimize substance lists to produce ‘eco’ products and report on metrics. ILFI created Declare, the ingredients label for building products, to promote product transparency in the building industry. Declare Labels are used on building products to inform consumers of the origin of a product, the substances in it, and information about its fate at the end of its useful life. As the program has grown, ILFI sought a more scalable software platform to help manufacturers with their transparency initiatives.

The Declare labeling program, developed by ILFI in 2012, is the fastest growing standard for reporting on product transparency. With Toxnot powering the creation of Declare Labels, manufacturers can now easily upload and manage product data from corporate systems, flag against numerous chemical hazard and restricted lists, use Clean Production Action’s GreenScreen® List Translator™ scores, and preview their Declare Labels prior to submission. James Connelly, VP, Products + Strategic Growth, ILFI remarked “our partnership with Toxnot will allow companies to scale Declare simply and easily across entire product portfolios, soon making transparent disclosure standard practice for all manufacturing companies.”

ILFI staff members and third parties will use Toxnot to review Declare Label submissions with a streamlined web interface, greatly expediting the approval process. Bill Hoffman, Toxnot’s co-founder and CTO, explains, "We're excited to provide a secure and scalable technology platform to power the Declare labeling program. By streamlining the transparency process with software, we're enabling more manufacturers to improve their products. Plus, ILFI members will have access to all the great features of Toxnot to manage and report on complex product and material libraries."

Pete Girard, co-founder of Toxnot, foresees the partnership “accelerating the continued rise of Declare Labels, as manufacturers find the creation process more streamlined. Companies can also add Toxnot’s premium supplier data collection features to make supplier outreach easier for Declare as well as other sustainability initiatives.” Consumers want to know what is in their products; this integration provides manufacturers with a software service to provide chemicals transparency in the building industry.

About Toxnot
ToxnotPBC is a technology company with a mission to improve health and sustainability across the global supply chain by streamlining the chemical transparency process. Toxnot provides an efficient system for manufacturers to gather supply chain data, gain insight into their hazard profiles, report on the results and create safer products. Organizations are able to automate transparency reporting and collect hazard information across their global supply chain, reducing risks. Toxnot scales from small businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises, and is the only free source of searchable GreenScreen® List Translator scores. In 2017, Toxnot won the Environmental Leader Product of the Year Award.

About the International Living Future Institute (ILFI)
The International Living Future Institute is an environmental NGO committed to catalyzing the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. ILFI is premised on the belief that providing a compelling vision for the future is a fundamental requirement for reconciling humanity’s relationship with the natural world. ILFI operates the Living Building Challenge, the built environment’s most ambitious performance standard. It is a hub for many other visionary programs that support the transformation toward a living future. Declare is a nutrition label for products. It is also a transparency platform and product database that is changing the materials marketplace. The Declare program meets the product reporting requirements of the Living Building Challenge and other green building certification programs.

Grant Thornton Global CEO Appointed Chair of the Board for IMPACT2030

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 8:55am

IMPACT2030 announced at its global summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York that Peter Bodin, Global CEO of Grant Thornton International, has been appointed Chair of the Board of Directors. Peter Bodin will succeed Grady Lee who, after his three-year term as Chair, will continue on as Vice Chair.

IMPACT2030 is a private sector-led coalition which aims to direct the collective skills, experience and passion of corporate volunteers towards helping the United Nations achieve their Sustainable Development Goals. These Global Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. IMPACT2030 was founded in response to a UN resolution that called upon nations to engage with the private sector through the expansion of corporate volunteering and employee volunteer activities. 

“Peter will be a vital asset to the IMPACT2030 team as we look to increase our engagement with the private sector and elevate the conversation and our purpose to a global level,” says outgoing Chair, Grady Lee. “His global experience, in-depth knowledge of the private sector and passion for driving real organizational change will be invaluable.”

“I’m extremely excited and honored to join IMPACT2030 as Chair of the Board,” says Peter Bodin. “I’ve watched the initiative for some time and I have been impressed with the work that the organisation has done to mobilize and activate employees globally around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals."

“After spending 30 years in business, I truly believe that the private sector has a unique opportunity and genuine responsibility to help society make these Goals a reality. People are the private sector’s most valuable asset and by focusing them on the Sustainable Development Goals, we can help wider society make true progress towards a better and more sustainable future for all.”

The announcement of Peter Bodin as Chair coincides with IMPACT2030’s 2018 Summit being held at the United Nations headquarters in New York from 5-7 September. With the theme Accelerating Impact, the purpose of this year’s summit is to showcase the potential impact that millions of employee volunteers can have if they channel their skills, experience and commitment to help address poverty, improve opportunity, promote education, fight inequalities and tackle climate change.

The three areas of focus for IMPACT2030 are:

  • ACTIVATE a global movement of employees around the UN’s SDGs, uniting them as agents of change in their communities;

  • COLLABORATE across sectors to identify shared priorities, spark innovation, and scale impact through human capital investments;

  • MEASURE the positive impact of the investment of human capital on communities and how it can be linked to, and improve, collective impact on the UN’s SDGs.

About IMPACT2030
IMPACT2030 is the only private sector, partnership-led initiative focused on leveraging employee volunteer programs to directly and substantially contribute to the achievement of the United Nation’s global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The initiative takes a collective and multi-sector approach to impact the SDGs and leverages economies of scale by encouraging collective and cooperative volunteering efforts of member organizations globally.

Learn more about IMPACT2030 and join the global movement to leverage human capital to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals at www.IMPACT2030.com.

Donziger: Chevron’s SLAPP Attack On Ecuador Judgment A Symbol of New Corporate Harassment Lawsuits

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 2:55pm

On the eve of protest in three cities against SLAPP-style harassment lawsuits, the main target of what has become known as the “Mother of All SLAPP Attacks” discussed the new corporate playbook for using courts to silence advocacy.

Steven Donziger, a Harvard-educated lawyer, organized the team that won a landmark $12 billion environmental judgment against Chevron in Ecuador. After losing the case, Chevron attacked the plaintiffs in Ecuador’s Amazon and their lawyer, Donziger, with a SLAPP lawsuit that might be the most vicious and well-funded corporate retaliation campaign in U.S. history.  (See here for the evidence against Chevron.)

A SLAPP lawsuit is one filed by a corporation or governmental entity to harass, intimidate, and ultimately silence critics rather than for the merits of any underlying claim.  The party that initiates a SLAPP suit almost always has a huge resource advantage compared to the person targeted, which is the case here given that Donziger works out of his Manhattan apartment while Chevron is one of the largest companies in the world. Such lawsuits also violate the Free Speech clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Chevron targeted Donziger with six public relations firms, hundreds of lawyers and investigators, and a U.S. federal judge who allowed the oil giant to present paid-for witness testimony on a civil “racketeering” case that Donziger said “was an attempt to frame me with criminal wrongdoing.” Chevron has spent an estimated $2 billion to pay 60 law firms to attack the Ecuadorians and their lawyers. 

Donziger – called a “hero” of the environmental movement by Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler -- speaks below on the eve of international protests against intimidation SLAPP lawsuits staged by the “Protect the Protest” coalition including Greenpeace, RAN, Mother Jones, Wikimedia, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and human rights and environmental organizations. He was interviewed by Karen Hinton, the longtime U.S.-based spokesperson for the Ecuadorian communities and the former press secretary for New York City Major Bill DeBlasio. 

Karen Hinton (KH):  Tell us about Chevron’s SLAPP attacks to undermine the Ecuador judgment. 

Chevron likely has spent more money than any company in history on SLAPP attacks after Indigenous groups and farmer communities won a $12 billion environmental judgment. I played a key role in the effort. We won after almost 20 years of litigation marred by Chevron’s delaying tactics, subterfuge, bad faith, witness bribery and even criminality. Four layers of courts in Ecuador found that Chevron deliberately dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon from 1964 to 1992. It was an act of industrial homicide that created an epidemic of cancer that has killed and continues to kill numerous people, including many children. It also decimated the traditional lifestyles of five Indigenous groups. It’s a humanitarian disaster largely ignored by the world community and even by the government of Ecuador.

KH:  Is the pollution left by Chevron still out there in Ecuador?

The harm is ongoing; people in the affected communities are dying. I see it with my own eyes as I have taken more than 250 trips to the region. The stories are heartbreaking. Recently, the only nurse in the area and a good friend, Rosa Moreno, passed away from cancer after helping to treat and comfort dozens of people in her small community after they contracted cancer. The entire area where Chevron operated is a death zone. It is still poisoned as the company refuses to comply with the court judgment. There is virtually no medical care or diagnostic equipment.

KH: What about the government of Ecuador?  Have they done anything to clean it up?

The government of Ecuador is both a victim of Chevron and a facilitator of its crimes.  Bottom line is the government doesn’t have the resources or the expertise to clean up such a massive environmental problem in one of the world’s most bio-diverse and sensitive ecosystems. And it is Chevron that is the ultimate responsible party given that it was the exclusive operator of the oil concession area where the pollution occurred. Chevron needs to act now, but Ecuador’s government needs to provide emergency relief in conjunction with the international community.

KH: Have Chevron’s SLAPP attacks been effective in terms of the legal proceedings?

They have not come close to stopping the case, which is Chevron’s goal.  We are enforcing the judgment against Chevron’s assets in Canada with a number of important court victories including one in the Canada Supreme Court. But the attacks have severely delayed the process. Thousands of people likely have died because of the delays caused by Chevron. And the civil justice system seems to keep falling into the traps set by Chevron with its endless motions and delaying tactics, rather than moving this to a conclusion.

KH: What is the status of the case in terms of court proceedings?

The Ecuadorian communities are enforcing the judgment in Canada after Chevron threatened them with a “lifetime of litigation” if they persisted.  The courage of these communities is extraordinary. They convinced the Canada Supreme Court to rule unanimously in their favor in a judgment enforcement action after Chevron tried to close the courthouse doors on jurisdictional grounds. This sets the stage for an enforcement trial in Toronto that poses enormous risk to Chevron. We strongly believe the company’s fake "fraud" narrative will fall apart in open court which is why Chevron is trying to so desperately to kill off the case before that trial happens.

KH: You say you were framed by Chevron as part of a SLAPP attack. How?

As the evidence of Chevron’s toxic dumping in Ecuador mounted, and knowing it likely could never win on the merits, the company’s U.S. law firm Gibson Dunn sold management on its “kill step” strategy.  This in part involves creating fraudulent evidence to target opposing counsel, with the hope that just the threat of being attacked will force counsel to quit and the case will disappear. That’s the essence of a SLAPP attack. Well, I didn’t quit so they took it to the next step and actually carried out the fraud against me and my Ecuadorian colleagues, including the lawyer Pablo Fajardo and the Goldman Prize winner Luis Yanza.

KH: Explain details. 

Gibson Dunn has done this in multiple cases. In my situation, they had foreign investigators pay a corrupt Ecuadorian witness $2 million. Lawyers in the U.S. then coached him for 53 days before he walked into court and claimed I approved a bribe of the trial judge. It was a total lie but the federal judge who refused to seat a jury bought it, for reasons having to do with his pro-business perspective and his refusal to consider key evidence. Chevron knew the judge was on its side or it never would have taken the enormous risk of employing this strategy. 

KH: The judge ruled against you, predictably. I was there and saw his open bias against you and your clients.

His conclusions have been contradicted by rulings from 17 different appellate judges in Ecuador who found Chevron’s allegations not only meritless, but preposterous. Nevertheless, as part of its SLAPP strategy, Chevron used the erroneous findings of the U.S. trial judge as a basis to have my law license suspended in New York without a hearing. To avoid a hearing where I could have presented evidence of Chevron’s fraud, they designated me as “an immediate threat to the public order” based on Chevron’s paid-for and false witness testimony. I’m fighting that decision, while I maintain my law license in the District of Columbia.  It does illustrates the frightening power of Chevron to co-opt the bar grievance process, which is run largely by corporate lawyers, and turn it into an arm of the SLAPP litigation strategy.

KH: What other pressure tactics does your team use?

We work closely to educate shareholders about the truth of Chevron’s enormous risk from employing SLAPP which one day could really haunt company officials and their lawyers. We have filed a criminal referral letter about it with the U.S. Department of Justice. The fact we put out information that challenges the official line about the case infuriates company management. Recently, 36 institutional shareholders who own Chevron stock wrote a letter to CEO Michael Wirth urging that he explore a settlement. A shareholder proposal at Chevron’s annual meeting stemming from the Ecuador litigation received an unusually high 39% vote of shareholders.

KH: Chevron has spent huge sums to try to taint your reputation and bankrupt you personally.  Why you in particular? 

Because I have played an instrumental role in designing the strategy and getting the financial resources needed to hold the company accountable. It’s pretty simple – it’s cheaper for Chevron to attack me than to comply with the judgment. Cynical perhaps, but that’s how the game is played by corporations in the context of large liabilities.  The same kind of attacks against lawyers happened in the context of the tobacco litigation. The Chevron law firms are happy to execute the strategy because the fees are enormous. Which is a great irony. American lawyers are getting rich off of Chevron’s SLAPP strategy while the Ecuadorian victims suffer from a humanitarian catastrophe. 

KH: What is Chevron’s goal?

To get the lawyers on our team to give up or to snag my “scalp” by bankrupting me and then use that fact to intimidate other lawyers into not taking these large and complicated environmental cases. Chevron just filed a motion to force me to pay $33 million in company legal fees.

KH:  A coalition of environmental and civil liberties groups has organized a campaign to protest SLAPP lawsuits. Thoughts?

This campaign is an incredibly important development. People need to pay attention and organize to stop these abusive litigation practices.

KH: Have others in the environmental community been targeted?

Several others, like Greenpeace and the human rights lawyer Terry Collingsworth, also have been attacked recently by corporate-funded SLAPP suits that seem to be copycats of the Chevron strategy. Chevron’s law firm Gibson Dunn wrote the playbook for the use of “racketeering” laws intended to target the Mafia to attack human rights advocates.  It’s unethical and has sparked outrage in the legal community in Canada. It’s just unheard of in Canada for a company to sue opposing lawyers during an active litigation. The fact U.S. judges allow these cases to even proceed to step one is outrageous. Part of the purpose of the coalition is to educate the judiciary on how to spot a SLAPP lawsuit which are almost always dressed up with seemingly normal sounding claims like "defamation" or "trespass".

KH:  How are your clients?

Strong, tenacious, committed, but also wrecked physically by the wave of cancers and other health problems.  They have fought heroically for almost 25 years to hold Chevron accountable.  They need clean water, medical care, a restoration of ancestral lands, and a clean-up of 1,000 unlined waste pits that continue to contaminate groundwater, rivers, and streams. Much of the damage is so severe it will never be fully repaired, but much can be done and must be done to save lives and restore the habitat.

KH: Do you think Chevron will continue to stonewall?

The deeper problem is that Chevron and other oil majors likely face more than one trillion dollars in environmental liabilities around the world to Indigenous and other impoverished communities that have never been booked. What was done in Ecuador is not uncommon; look at Peru, Nigeria, and other countries where we see disastrous environmental contamination stemming from similar misconduct from the oil and mining industries. The last thing these industries want is for Indigenous peoples in Ecuador to recover funds such that other groups around the world get inspired.

KH:  How are you personally.

I and my clients and colleagues are getting a lot of support from around the world and we are incredibly thankful for that. But we always need more.  This is not an easy job. Solidarity is important when dealing with SLAPP. It is also important for the victims of this abusive practice to stick together and turn the attention back onto the corporations and legal attack dogs who carry out these strategies. Both corporations and their law firms need to be called out. Public awareness and action is the only way these bullying tactics can be defeated.

Here is a detailed document on Chevron’s SLAPP fraud. Here is a photo essay of some of Chevron’s victims in Ecuador. Here is background on the pattern of fraud used by Chevron’s law firm Gibson Dunn in its SLAPP attacks.

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NHBSR 2018 Sustainability Slam