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Corporate Accountability Annual Report

Fiscal Year 2019

You are powering transformational change

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From the executive director

Do you feel it? That tremendous collective energy rising up everywhere?

In this past year, I’ve spoken with many of you about this energy, which is driving us toward transformative change that we can sense, glimmering on the horizon. This political moment, with all of its outrages and chaos, is bringing to the surface a clarity of vision for so many of us.

More and more people are beginning to understand that incremental change is not enough. More and more people are acknowledging that we need transformative changes to address the scale of the problems we face. We need a more just economy. A democracy that truly reflects the people’s will, not corporate interests. A society based on equity and justice, and an end to white supremacy.

And more and more people are doing something about it. They are taking action, perhaps for the first time in their lives. They are demanding action on the climate catastrophe; they are holding corporations accountable for the devastation they are driving, and they are confronting racist and xenophobic policies.

As more and more people rise to the challenge of these times, Corporate Accountability’s mission feels more relevant and necessary than ever before in our 42 year history.

I am proud to say that we are stepping fully into this moment and all it demands of us. We’ve been working toward this across the decades, learning from our campaign victories and defeats, building a powerful base made up of people like you, and sharpening our organizing tools.

And as a result, today, we are able to harness this desire for change. We’re directing that energy toward achieving important victories that are building a world where corporations answer to people, not the other way around. As you’ll see in this report, you are making progress possible for the kind of transformative change we need—like kicking Big Polluters out of climate policy.

Indeed, this desire for transformative change is global—just as the abuses of power we are seeing are global. Around the world, such power is being contested, from Brazil to India to the United States—and because of that I believe that we have a window for creating change far greater than we can imagine.

We can’t know all that the next few years will bring. But we know that we are ready to meet the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. We have a solid foundation in powerful international and national organizing, and we have the ability to be flexible and nimble as we mobilize the powerful energy of people like you who know a better world is possible. I hope you recognize yourself in the pages of this report and see just how transformative your partnership is.

I am deeply grateful for all the ways you support this work. This is our time and our moment to create the world we dream of together.

Onward,

Patti signature

Patti Lynn
Executive Director


 

Transformative solutions: Campaign victories


All over the world, people are demanding change in the systems that allow corporations to harm people and the planet. Your support is helping to grow and tap into this groundswell of people power. Together, we wage multifaceted campaigns that are global in scope. We draw from our deep toolbox of campaign tactics to effectively expose, confront, and rein in transnational corporations. We challenge corporate power from the U.N. to city hall. Your support is helping spur deep, transformative change and establish building blocks for the advancement of democracy that equitably and transparently represents the interests of all people.

Holding Big Polluters to account

Pictured: Corporate Accountability staff Taylor Billings (right) and ally Wanun Permpibul of Climate Watch Thailand and APMDD (left) at the annual treaty negotiations.

You are helping to change the course of climate history. We are organizing at the U.N. climate treaty to demand an end to the corporate capture of climate policy. This year we helped open pathways for just and effective climate solutions in the treaty.

Activating people power

In the climate campaign, you are activating people around the world to take bold and meaningful action. In December at the U.N. climate treaty talks, we and our allies released the People’s Demands, a global roadmap for just climate progress led by communities most affected by climate change. People and organizations from 130 countries joined in these demands, which are the guiding light in our organizing for climate justice. In the U.S., members like you organized friends, families, and neighbors to call on state attorneys general to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its decades of climate deception.

Kicking Big Polluters out of climate policy

Read more about how you are powering the movement to kick Big Polluters out of climate policy.

Breaking ground in international policy by challenging Big Tobacco

You are supporting precedent-setting work on the global tobacco treaty. Pictured: Campaign Director, Michél Legendre at this year’s treaty negotiations.

Closing loopholes

At this year’s global tobacco treaty negotiations, more than 180 countries came together to adopt a policy that closes off the few remaining avenues for Big Tobacco to influence the treaty. And when the industry attempted to carve out a different regulatory pathway for new tobacco products like e-cigarettes, governments refused, insisting that the same lifesaving protections be applied to all tobacco products. Through the tobacco campaign, we’re setting the bar for how other industries—like Big Polluters—should be handled in policymaking spaces. Read more about the watershed moment for tobacco control.

Setting precedent

Read more about how the global tobacco treaty sets precedent for the campaign to hold Big Polluters to account.

Challenging corporate control of water

Engaging in deep Global South/North partnerships

Together through the water campaign we are stopping private water corporations that seek to use Lagos as a gateway in their quest to privatize water systems across Africa. This year, with Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA), we convened a global water summit and expanded the Lagos campaign to the national level. Your support is now making it possible for organizers throughout Nigeria to challenge the World Bank and private water corporations, and advance the human right to water. Read more.

Bode Oluwafemi, ERA’s deputy executive director, addresses the crowd at the National Water Summit in Abuja, Nigeria, where more than 150 water justice organizers and experts gathered to develop strategic plans for stopping water privatization in Lagos and scaling this successful campaign model throughout Nigeria and beyond. Photo credit: Babawale Obayanju, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria.

Securing public water solutions

Read more about how you helped secure an exciting victory for public water this year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Fixing our broken food system

Dr. Esperanza Cerón Villaquiran of Colombia’s Educar Consumidores delivers a scathing statement on Coca-Cola’s damaging political interference at Coke headquarters.

Exposing the reality behind Big Food brands

You are exposing how Big Food is wreaking havoc on people’s health and the environment—and how the industry uses its political influence to get its way. McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are seeking to expand the market for their unhealthy products by leveraging the might of their brands, which they’ve spent decades and billions of dollars cultivating. Our campaigning at shareholders’ meetings, online, in the media, and in partnership with allies reveal the true story: These corporations are fueling a public health crisis and attempting to manipulate policymaking in their pursuit of profit. Read more.

Challenging corporate control of our food system

Read more about how you helped Boston become the first on the East Coast to adopt a city-wide Good Food Purchasing Policy (GFPP) — a groundbreaking policy that helps build an equitable, local, sustainable food system.


 

A vast and vibrant movement that is changing the world

The movement for transformative change that we are part of is robust, diverse, and creating the world that we want—right now. We are privileged to partner with organizations with shared visions and values for how the world should be, and we are inspired and emboldened by them to act toward making that vision a reality. We partner with organizations around the world, many based in the Global South and led by women, people of color, indigenous people, and youth.

Youth ally brings voices of young people to climate talks


“As towns are burning and seas are drowning islands, fossil fuel CEOs, lobbyists, and front groups have a seat at the table to draft climate policy—a seat that young people don’t have. We must kick Big Polluters out in order to advance just and necessary climate policy at any level, whether it’s the grassroots or international.” – Aneesa Khan, SustainUs

“Fossil fuel corporations have had a stranglehold on climate policy longer than anyone at SustainUS has been alive,” says Aneesa Khan, executive coordinator of the youth climate justice organization. Having attended the U.N. climate treaty negotiations since she was in college, Aneesa is clear that the demand to kick Big Polluters out goes straight to the “heart of what matters right now in our fight against climate change.” She notes that SustainUS members appreciate being mentored by Corporate Accountability staff at the treaty meetings. As Aneesa puts it, “those of us on the frontline of crisis are also on the forefront of change.” We are honored to help lift up their voices and perspectives.

Our allies

This list highlights just a few of the allies and coalitions we are privileged to partner with in building a just world for all.


  • 350.org
  • Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE)
  • America Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
  • Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development
  • Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
  • Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
  • Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
  • Consumer Information Network
  • Corporate Europe Observatory
  • Daily Kos
  • Democracy Initiative
  • Demos
  • EarthRights
  • Educar Consumidores
  • El Poder del Consumidor
  • Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA)
  • Framework Convention Alliance (FCA)
  • Fight for $15
  • Flint Rising
  • Food & Water Watch
  • Food Chain Workers Alliance
  • Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice
  • Grassroots International
  • HEAL Food Alliance
  • International Corporate Accountability Round Table (ICAR)
  • In the Public interest
  • Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)
  • Mayors Innovation Project
  • Michigan Welfare Rights Organization
  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • New Economy Coalition
  • Pittsburgh United/Our Water Our Rivers campaign
  • Public Citizen
  • Public Services International
  • Real Food Media
  • Red Vida
  • Resource Generation
  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
  • Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)
  • Small Planet Institute
  • Solidaire
  • Story of Stuff
  • Project
  • SumOfUs
  • SustainUS
  • Third World Network
  • Transnational Institute
  • Union of Concerned Scientists
  • United for a Fair Economy
  • United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)
  • Worth Rises

 

Members spur transformative action

We inspire each other

We are profoundly grateful that as a Corporate Accountability member, you go above and beyond when your imagination is sparked by the possibilities that lie ahead of us. As we partner with each other, we show up with our full selves in each interaction—and we inspire each other to act more boldly and use our resources in transformative ways. Here are three stories of how members inspired us and others to make a tremendous impact this year.

A call to hold Big Polluters accountable

Shamaiah Turner is a union sheet metal worker who understands the power of organizing “to bring awareness and get people to speak up for the change we need.” She’s also passionate about climate change—which is why she co-hosted a movement-building gathering for Corporate Accountability. In her opening remarks she talked about how “the burden of climate change doesn’t fall on the people who create the greater share of it.

It falls on working class people, poor people. The big corporations are the bad actors. Their irresponsible business practices are fueling the climate crisis.” In the end, more than 80 people came together to take action for climate justice through an inspiring evening of food and community. “It was great to speak out on these issues and hear the solidarity in the room,” she says. We are grateful for Shamaiah and other members across the country who are hosting large and small gatherings like these—they are helping to build the people- and financial-power needed to hold Big Polluters accountable.

A legacy that unlocked power and impact

Early in Dr. Thomas L. Hall’s career as a doctor, he worked at a community clinic in Puerto Rico. There, he realized that the world’s most serious and systemic issues couldn’t be solved by individual doctors, no matter how hard they worked. So he transitioned to public health. He spent much of his career working on population, which he saw as a human rights issue: the right for people to choose their family size via access to birth control.

He also took on other huge issues like the AIDS epidemic and nuclear disarmament. He could picture the world as it could be—and his decades-long support of Corporate Accountability was an important part of creating that better world. When he passed away in 2017, he left a legacy gift of $200,000 to Corporate Accountability. This made a tremendous impact in our work this year to improve the lives of millions of people around the world—from advancing public health policies with the global tobacco treaty to expanding water justice organizing across Nigeria and on the African continent. We are deeply grateful to him and his family.

A challenge that inspired you to new heights

Photo credit: MJ Alexander

An experienced fundraiser and life-long philanthropist, Nancy Nordhoff knows that success comes from asking for what you need. So when we asked Nancy to partner with us in raising funds to maximize our impact on our climate and water campaigns this year, she said yes—and launched a robust matching gift challenge. Her generosity and vision inspired almost twenty people to step up their giving to Corporate Accountability in huge ways.

In partnership with these generous donors, we not only met Nancy’s challenge we surpassed—well before the deadline! Upon seeing the enormous impact this challenge was having on our ability to advance our campaigns, Nancy joined with several other donors to extend the match. All told, this challenge raised more than $1 million! Thanks to everyone who participated, we were able to pave the way for true and just solutions take hold at the U.N. climate treaty and achieve crucial victories and progress in advancing the human right to water globally.

Read more stories about how our members are building people power in their communities to stop transnational corporations from devastating democracy, trampling human rights, and destroying our planet.


 

Transformational change through a global approach

Holding corporations accountable beyond borders

This spring, Nancy MacLean, author of the renowned book Democracy in Chains strategized with our organizers at campaign headquarters. Her message was clear: We are part of a powerful movement around the country taking back and advancing our democracy. Pictured from left: Heshan Berents-Weeramuni, communications director; Shayda Edwards Naficy, senior program director; Nancy MacLean; Patti Lynn, executive director; Taylor Billings, press secretary.

Advisers

Social justice leaders, corporate campaigners, public officials, leading scholars. Corporate Accountability’s advisers bring years of experience challenging entrenched power and securing transformative change. The following is a partial list of our advisers.

Official relations

As part of our work to advance international policies that hold corporations accountable, we maintain official relations with the following United Nations agencies:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • The Secretariat of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)
  • The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

 

FY 2019 Audited Financial Report

 

Read our FY19 financial audit.


 

Powering transformative change: You make this work possible

The enormous impact we’ve had this year would not be possible without you: members who donate money, time, and energy to holding corporations to account and advancing democracy. Your name listed here, as well as the many people and foundations who give anonymously at every level, is symbolic of the collective power we are building to transform the world together. Download the annual report pdf for the full list of generous members who powered this work in FY19.

Corporate Accountability grows stronger by partnering with people like you. Learn the many ways you can get involved.

Thank you!


Corporate Accountability is looking for a new Executive Director