site logo

Business-Managed Democracy

“Business-managed democracies are those in which the political and cultural arrangements are managed in the interests of business”

Sharon Beder

Business-Managed Environment

Environmentalists' Undue Influence


James Sheehan, director of international policy activities at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), claimed in his book Global Greens that "environmentalists unduly influence many UN agreements such as the Basle Convention on hazardous waste, which seriously undermines trade in scrap metal, and even donations of used clothes destined for the world’s poor".

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) 2001 book on Global Greens, Global Governance by James M. Sheehan and Jeremy A. Rabkin 'exposes the efforts of the environmental movement to undermine individual freedom by promoting the growth of authoritarian and unaccountable global institutions'.

Similarly in his 1996 book Environmentalism at the Crossroads: Green Activism in America, Jonathan Adler, then director of environmental studies for the CEI, argued that the modern environment movement put nature ahead of human concerns and yet has been able to capture the US power elite (both political parties, large corporations and foundations and educational institutions) aswell as the UN in order to undermine capitalism. It has used pseudo-science to generate hysteria about global warming, ozone depletions and health dangers and caused governments to introduce socialist legislation that threatens individual liberty.

In an IEA article on A Code of Conduct for NGOs, Anthony Adair claims that "partly in response to the the public relations activities and lobbying efforts of NGOs, the private sector of the economy has been forced to operate under an increasingly heavy burden of regulation". He "questions their right to claim to represent the public interest when there is little evidence of genuine public consultation about policy or of accountability by the main office holders".


These NGOs exercise influence and often power in our society in ways which sometimes seem disproportionate to their memberships and the weight of their arguments, and which often run counter to the wishes of the majority. Very little is known about how many of these organisations are funded, whom they represent, how they reach their decisions, and to whom they are accountable....
There is growing concern at the exaggerated, often apocalyptic tone of public statements; serious doubts about the integrity and honesty of some of the scientific and technical claims made by some NGOs; and increasing alarm at some of the more high-risk stunts undertaken to attract media publicity. In some cases, there is ample evidence of a willingness to fabricate 'evidence', particularly of a 'quasi-scientific' nature, and to rely on misinformation and distortions of the truth...

In 2003 the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) co-hosted a seminar in Washington entitled 'Nongovernmental Organizations: The Growing Power of an Unelected Few'. The blurb for the conference stated:

The growing power of supranational organizations and a loose set of rules governing the accreditation of NGOs has meant that an unelected few have access to growing and unregulated power.
NGOs have created their own rules and regulations and demanded that governments and corporations abide by those rules... Politicians and corporate leaders are often forced to respond to the NGO media machine, and the resources of taxpayers and shareholders are used in support of ends they did not intend to sanction. The extraordinary growth of advocacy NGOs in liberal democracies has the potential to undermine the sovereignty of constitutional democracies, as well as the effectiveness of credible NGOs.


Speakers at the conference included Fred Smith from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and speakers from the IPA and AEI including Roger Bate. The outcome of the conference was the creation of NGOWatch.

back to top