Norway Campuses Reject Coca-Cola
Contract Not Renewed, Ethical Concerns Raised in Decision
In another major victory for the international campaign against Coca-Cola, colleges and universities in Norway have decided not to renew the exclusive contract with Coca-Cola. Students across Norway have been campaigning to significantly restrict Coca-Cola’s contract on campuses because of the company’s mismanagement of water resources in India.
Students had argued that Coca-Cola’s existing 90% market share on campuses made it difficult for students to exercise their right to buy ethical products on campus.
Samskipnaden i Oslo (Foundation for Student Life in Oslo) made the decision not to renew Coca-Cola’s exclusive contract and also restrict campus market share for new contracts to 80%, meeting both the student campaign demands. The primary contract, effective January 1, 2010, was awarded to Ringnes, and applies to colleges and universities across Norway.
“This is a major victory for the student campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable in Norway. We are sending a strong message to Coca-Cola that it must stop its unethical behavior in India. We are also delighted that the campaign is moving our campuses away from the monopolistic practices of companies like Coca-Cola,” said Martin Giset of Attac Blindern, the lead campaigning group at the University of Oslo.
Samskipnaden cited both financial reasons as well as ethical in arriving at their decision.
“We are thrilled. Both because Ringnes had a better offer than Coca-Cola, and because it is going to make it easier for students to make ethical choices when buying beverages,” said the leader of the Welfare Council in Oslo, Jenny Nygaard.
The action against Coca-Cola comes after a two-year long campaign in Norway to hold Coca-Cola accountable. On November 11, 2008, the University of Oslo Welfare Council (Velferdstinget I Oslo) passed a resolution to significantly restrict the size of Coca-Cola’s contract, offer alternative beverages that are ethical and fair trade as well as adopt more stringent criteria for ensuring that companies that do business with the University of Oslo have strong environmental and ethical records. University of Bergen, Vestfold University College and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences at Aas also passed resolutions against Coca-Cola in Norway.
Communities across India have been campaigning against Coca-Cola, charging the company with creating water shortages and pollution. Two Coca-Cola plants have been shut down in India as a result of the campaign, and a Coca-Cola funded study released in January 2008 has recommended the closure of another bottling plant in India citing Coca-Cola’s significant role in worsening water shortages.
“We welcome colleges and universities in Norway to the growing number of conscientious institutions around the world who are demanding that Coca-Cola clean up its act in India. The decision not to do business as usual with Coca-Cola will go a long way in ensuring justice for communities in India”, said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization.
The India Resource Center worked closely with Attac in Norway to support the student campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable in Norway.
Source: Attac Norge