Rio day 10: Its the end of the world (and I feel fine)
23 Jun 20120 comments
Last bus. It's still grey after raining hard last night but looks like it might clear. That's good since I have a whole few hours tomorrow before I get on the plane to see a bit of Rio. Traffic is not too bad since its still an official holiday but convoys of mismatched cars with sirens and lights conveying the great and the good leaders (some even have Rio+20 license plates) delay our getting there regularly. I cheerfully wave at them with one finger for the stops. Every day we pass this giant empty building designed to be music hall. Apparently it was a spectacularly corrupt development and hundreds of millions disappeared in building it. Now its just there unfinished and abandoned, falling apart. It's a bit of stark reminder of the importance of our efforts to promote access to information.
Met the Kogi Indians priests last night. They live up on the top of a mountain in Colombia isolated from the rest of the world and have no written language. Their priests called Mamas grow up in dark caves and only see the world when they reach adulthood. We who live off the mountain are "little brothers". They came down from their mountain for the first time in 1992 for the first Earth Summit after noticing the ecological changes happening even in their remote hideaway. We little brothers obviously didn't listen hard enough so they came down again. My colleague Mona introduced us as they speak Spanish too. Seemed like nice enough chaps but I didn't suggest they read the blog. Pretty sure the humor would not translate but their translator said they have a wicked sarcastic sense of humor so perhaps I should have.
The world "leaders" continue to give their 5 minute speech (not sure which universe the time is counted in - many are endless). No one is paying much attention to them and apparently the plenary room that we all coveted the passes to so much is mostly empty. I'm glad now I didn't get one. More fun to sit in the food pavilion and watch it on the 50 foot screen between meetings and increasingly desperate searches for working wifi hubs and standing in huge lines for food. We do our own versions of the speeches. If we only had a bottle of cachaça, we would be set. Instead there is some very pricey german stype beer.
The overflow room in the NGO pavilion was almost full of people watching in the morning . Swedish PM mentioned importance of freedom of expression this morning. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a very typical American campaign style political speech about new thinking "thinking different" (i hope Apple gets a royalty check), corporate partnerships (I remember when those used to be called subsidies) but also importance of Including women in economy and to ensure reproductive rights, which got cheers here in hall. Venezuela had some comedy moments on the usual themes which got cheers also. Argentina speech seems to have been written two weeks ago as all it's criticism about institutional reform were resolved to G77 satisfaction. Azerbaijan uses their moment after the official statements as a platform to slag off Armenia for their nuclear power plant. Argentina wants their bloody islands back. This is international debate at its best. I'm just sorry I wasn't able to see all 200 statements. But just a few feels like all of it.
And a surprise while having a beer watching it in the food pavilion with a couple of other survivors of the week - offered a pass to the main plenary! It's a big room, only about half full and haven't been so far from the stage in an event since I saw Springsteen at RFK in 85. I have to admit he was a bit more entertaining than this. Came back and gave the pass to my colleage Tahmina who is very excited to go.
Overall, It's a somewhat bittersweet moment to be done. We have been working for this for over two years now and have developed a community and new friendships. I'd especially like to point out the efforts of The Access Initiative in working day in and day out in pressing for access to info. We would not be at this point without them. Also Stakeholder Forum and Civicus deserve special praise in keeping us informed and involved. Most of us have other issues we have to deal with so being able to keep in the process was crucial for us. As I've said before, we came out of this process, not perfectly, but with opportunities to do more. We got an agreement to better implement Principle 10 regionally, nationally, subnationally and locally. We didn't get a global convention on Principle 10 but we did get something that might lead to it and at least to more regional ones. We didn't get an UN FOI but we did get a chance to do it for the the upgraded Sustainable Development Council or whatever it might be called and at UNEP which could lead to it. We got agreement that SDGs and other sectoral areas should be transparent and open. And we just got some additional good news - the UN Secretary General just announced a Special Representative for Future Generations. So even though the Declaration only called for a report, we got another desired outcome! Special congratulations to the World Future Council.
So we have a lot of work ahead. I hope to see you there. I'll be the one making the snarky comments in the corner.
And if not then, see you at Rio + 40. Don't forget your Scuba gear.