OPEN LETTER TO NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE

I am writing to express my dismay that National Geographic has chosen to associate itself publicly with Vale Corporation. Vale was named the “Worst Company in the World” in January 2012 by the Public Eye Awards for its maltreatment of human lives and its destruction of the earth. Our Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in Brazil are eyewitnesses to this. Yet on page 21 of your June 2012 issue of National Geographic magazine, you proclaim that your Rio+20 Conference digital coverage is sponsored by Vale, the worst example of a business that puts profit before sustainability of people and of the earth.

Vale is ostensibly part of the United Nations Global Compact and the International Council on Mining and Metals which both promise to be socially and environmentally responsible. Through its Technology Institute, Vale pledges to “make responsible and respectful approaches to environmental, scientific and technological development a matter of course.” However, Vale’s record shows just the opposite of what it pledges in all of these areas. Claiming interest in the green economy and sustainable development, Vale is a sponsor of the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, where sustainability is defined as “a company’s delivery of long-term value in financial, social, environmental and ethical terms.” Note that ‘financial’ is listed first. Too many companies like Vale are using sustainable development language to benefit their bottom line.

Why would National Geographic sully its reputation by associating publicly with Vale, given its dismal record on environmental and social issues? I urge you to sever your connection with Vale and instead choose a sponsor that truly acts in a sustainable way for the earth and its peoples.

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