Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has reacted with shock that a business award she gave was to India’s top tobacco company.
Clark, who is now head of the United Nations Development Agency, presented India’s largest cigarette maker, ITC (formerly Indian Tobacco Company) with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) highest prize for improving the environment and removing poverty.
This drew an angry reaction from a leading Indian health advocate who termed it a travesty of justice.
In New York, UN watcher Inner City Press asked Clark to explain her award.
She replied with a written statement.
“I have worked tirelessly throughout my career to achieve a smoke free society in New Zealand, and was, thus, shocked to learn that a World Business Development Award, supported by UNDP, was given to a company which derives a substantial proportion of its profits from tobacco,” she said.
“Unfortunately the criteria for the World Business Development Awards did not exclude projects implemented by companies from certain sectors like tobacco. This has clearly been a serious oversight. “
Clark said UNDP would review its rules and regulations and ensure than an incident like it never happens.
“UNDP will not participate in these awards in the future unless companies like this are excluded,” Clark said.
Heh, I’d love to have seen the reaction when Helen found out. Rather unbelievable that you can present a major global prize to a company and not know what they do. A two minute check of their website or even Wikipedia would have found this out.
Anyway isn’t it a good thing a tobacco company is improving the environment and reducing poverty. While tobacco is a legal product (as it is in every country on earth), we will have tobacco companies – and isn’t it better they be encouraged to do good things such as reduce poverty and improve the environment?