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Finding Reality at the World Economic Forum

The sense of importance in the tiny village of Davos is hard to miss. If it isn’t a throng of bodyguards escorting Henry Kissinger back to his hotel, it’s the gymnastics that must be performed to get past barriers and the Swiss police to gain access to the Congress Centre where the main action of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting is taking place. The message is clear and it is loud – if you’re not one of the chosen, you are not welcome. The Open Forum at the WEF is thus a refreshing change of pace.

Do They Really Want a Common Future?

I’ll be honest. I was one of those that didn’t have high expectations for Rio+20. If trying to agree with your partner can sometimes be challenging and requires good negotiation skills and patience, I can’t even imagine which kind of super-powers decision-makers and negotiators would need to reach a satisfactory outcome. How can people from all over the world, with completely different backgrounds and capabilities, needs and interests, ideals and understanding of reality agree upon something that might go against their countries’ short-term development and interests? I don’t think there are too many brave leaders that would be willing to sacrifice their political lives for long-term development and progress, whatever that really means.

What to expect from Rio+20?

What is the value of Rio+20 beyond the negotiations? The true value of the Rio+20 conference does not consist of its political outcome. Discussing the political relevance of the outcome document only distracts from the true value of this conference. Conversations and Networking: Connecting the World
We all know Forest Gump. The great and extraordinary man sitting on the bench – alone.  I felt reminded of that situation when taking a break from the negotiations of the Rio+20 conference to have lunch at the park. Not far from me on a wooden bench was sitting a man, eating his sandwich – alone.

The North – South Trench in Rio+20

The 3rd preparatory committee meeting for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development closed without agreement. With negotiations hitting a bottleneck, it was left to the Brazilian hosts of the Rio+20 conference to take over the process rush an agreement before final meetings. The text of the draft is diplomatic and polite but a front has hardened between northern and southern countries. It is mainly an economical frontline between the developed and developing world. Mexican standoff: The EU, the US and the G77

Almost every group involved in the negotiations was far from agreement.

Updates – Civil Society Groups Stage Protest, Walk Out of RioCentro

Members from civil society groups staged a major sit-in style protest outside of Pavilion 3 at the RioCentro convention center on Thursday before marching out en-mass, carrying banners and chanting the slogan “The future we want….is not here!”  In a symbolic rejection of the negotiating text of the Rio+20 declaration, participants turned in their badges to UN security before boarding a bus for the People’s Summit in the Flamingo Park neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.  Civil society protesters were angered by what they perceived as an abandonment of environmental and social equity principles in favor of an economy-focused agenda. Interview conducted by Michael McCullough. The staged civil disobedience, which organizers advertised as a “People’s Plenary,” was in violation of the Rio+20 rules, which require a permit for every major event held at the Summit.  However, Rio+20 organizers and security were reluctant to disperse the crowd, which was thronged by a swarm of media reporting for major news outlets. The sit-in ran intermittently from roughly 1:00 PM until the group’s departure shortly after 4:00PM.  The protest was spearheaded by youth climate leaders and also included members of civil society groups representing women and indigenous communities.  During the sit-in, leaders read a mock text entitled “The Future we Bought,” as a satirical jab at the conference’s trademark slogan, “The Future we Want.” Interview conducted by Nikolaj Fischer.

Updates: “Guys, it is finished, just relax and enjoy Rio”

It's finished

Here in RioCentro it’s the last day of the Four Days of Dialougue, which is meant to provide civil society with the opportunity to interact with the governments and participate in the negotiations process. However, the Brazilian government has been using these precious remaining days before the final Earth Summit to push for an agreement through informal negotiations, and thus neglecting the civil society. On Tuesday June 19th, the Government released a pre-finalised version which seems to be the final agreement to be handed over to the UN. The host country tried to avoid to carry over open negotiation points into the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, where heads of States, Government and high level representatives are supposed to finally approve it. Late night negotiation

In the past four days, the negotiator has had to cope with long, exhausting sessions and delayed meetings.

Updates: Brazil’s Takeover – Declawing the Zero-Draft Document

Friday night June 15, 2012. The last preparatory conference of the Third Preparatory Committee Meeting ended without any agreement on the final document for the upcoming Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. As a consequence, the Brazilian government took on a leadership role in order to facilitate continued negotiations. The exact nature of the process under Brazil’s direction was still unclear as of Friday night.  When asked for comment, delegates from negotiating member nations expressed concern over the uncertainty of the process.

Day 1 in Review: Let the Rio+20 Adventure Begin!

Excited to Wake Up! The wonderful thing about a first day is the inherent enthusiasm and curiosity you feel when you wake up in the morning. You know that something good will come from it, but what? Excitement! In this spirit, Anna, Sunserae, Nikolaj, Johannes, Ilke, Laura, Maciej and I woke up at 6.30am on June 15th, ready for our first day as student reporters at the 3rd Preparatory Committee Meeting of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

Slow Going: Status Update on Zero Draft Negotiations

RioCentro Conference Center, Rio+20.  A posse of well-appointed individuals leisurely stroll by, their security detail and a gaggle of media in tow.  They seem important and unconcerned.  They walk slowly. The work of the 3rd Preparatory Committee, tasked with negotiating the text of the so called “zero draft,” is important. Today is the last day of negotiation listed on the schedule and yet a sense of urgency is strangely absent. The “zero draft” with zero speed

The 3rd Preparatory Committee is negotiating the text of the zero draft.  The text of the draft can be divided in four sections: renewing political commitment, green economy, institutional framework (i.e. “upgrading“ UNEP) and the framework for action and follow-up (including specific topics like food or education). Negotiations are not proceeding in sections or paragraphs or even sentences.