Rio Day 9: The walking dead
22 Jun 20120 comments
Pretty much everything here is now falling apart. Everyone is exhausted (well those who have been here for more than a day) walking around like zombies, voices rough, unable to articulate clearly when discussing anything.
The insides of the pavilions are temporary and are starting to come apart after all the use. The carpet is pulling up and the floors are starting to sink when you step on them. Metaphor for the whole event? Again too easy. Apparently this placed is used for concerts otherwise. I bet the Red Hot Chili peppers had nicer rooms.
It’s grey again outside, occasionally misting rain. If Mother Nature were really pissed at us, it would be a biblical-strength storm of thunder and lightning and hailstones the size of buses. This is more like she has a mild post-nasal drip. The government has called a holiday but there is still horrendous traffic at some points so miss hearing Ban Ki-Moon talk to the major groups.
The early birds who made it say that he welcomed civil society on their efforts and talked about how important we were in the process. Apparently he was a little nervous about showing up, fearing an angry confrontation but that didn’t happen. I made it in time to hear from our UN handler congratulating us on being polite to him. More likely no one had the energy. But there were more people in the morning briefing than I’ve ever seen before.
Occupy movement comes to town
There is a fair amount of frustration still from civil society. There is a lot of annoyance that the final draft says that it was developed in “full cooperation” with civil society. We certainly don’t believe that. Occupy Rio set up a protest outside the main pavilion chanting and a number of NGOs did a “permanent” walkout around 4, demanding that the document be reopened and made ambitious and useful. Alas not going to happen.
The title of the Outcome Document (not sure whether it will be a Declaration or what in the end) is “The Future We Want”. There are endless jokes on this theme going on, mostly around the somewhat humorless “The Future We Don’t Want”. A few others (some invented solely for this blog): “The Future We Deserve”, “The Future We Don’t Expect to See”, “The Future We Lost” and “Future? What future?”
I need a few drinks before I’ll be able to develop some funnier ones. Perhaps, tomorrow for the final blog. It now appears that there will not be a second short political document “chair’s declaration”. They did so well on this one that they don’t need to do more. I hope they don’t hurt themselves patting on their back.
Watch out for the Pita bread tank!
I went over to Athlete’s Park again for a side event on “Eye On Earth: Access for All” which we are a partner of. They are promoting technology and access to information. There was a big meeting last year in Abu Dhabi. Also went around the park a bit more with my colleague Arthur to check out a few more pavilions while trying to get lunch. The Abu Dhabi one is very large, and a bit like a badly made 5 start hotel lounge on the inside.
They have these Godzilla sized ipad-like touch screen devices (over a meter across) with nothing interesting on them frankly. But you could play a really cool Angry Birds on them if you could hack them. I expect if we tried, we might be beheaded. The Brasilian local pavilion had some nice food though. We also saw the bread tank (yes a tank like vehicle made out of cardboard and pita bread brought all the way over from Germany – see link: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/fake-tank-covered-with-bread-is-displayed-during-a-protest-news-photo/146565939).
Trudging along the last mile
We had our last mafia/Principle 10 meeting in the afternoon, to discuss our future work together. We see a lot of hope in what we got gives the UN mandate to go forward on global and national work, both conventions and implementation.
Already, 8 latin countries have signed a document requesting that the UN regional office start work on a regional convention on P10. And after nearly 15 years, Ireland ratified the Aarhus Convention yesterday. Only a few years behind Belarus and Turkmenistan. Well done chaps!
Then a major groups meeting with EU Commissioner, Potocnick. He was pretty straight with us about what the EU had hoped to get and what they didn’t get. Said he was not going to be ashamed by being here but not proud either. Without breaking the UN secrecy rules, it’s quite fair to say that on most issues, the EU was the best delegation.
A certain large block often led by not so democratic countries was the worst and a large rich country to the north of here should be pretty shameful about the role it played. A special award goes to a really really really small semi-religious medieval state for their efforts on sexual and reproductive rights. Its’ really a joke that they get a seat at the table and NGOs do not. Sorry no professional polling on this.
Off to meet the Kogi, a tribe from Colombia that live in the mountains and only come down to tell us how badly we are really messing things up every so often like at these events. Then home for the night. Only a day to go.
PS. And no sign of Edward Norton! I want my money back!