Day 3 at CSD-19

It was pouring down with rain, so I ended up at the UN with wet shoes and feet for the day. Not pleasant, but it was the first rain I saw in nearly 6 weeks (England has been very dry).

The NGO information meeting was followed by a meeting of the Women’s Major Group which was also attended by Chantal Line (the UN liaison for Major Groups). I then headed out to the BIC office for a meeting on RIO+20 – what does the BIC want to focus on contents-wise and what process we need for effective participation of the Baha’i community. All very exciting and it’s very nice to be involved intthese kind of brainstorming/consultation sessions. Slowly ideas and focus points (such as ‘participation’, ‘elimination of the extremes of wealth & poverty’, and spiritual qualities needed for good governance) are becoming clearer.

The afternoon was spent in sessions on Sustainable Consumption & Production. It’s hard not to get frustrated when you hear countries say: “We’ve been thinking about this and would like to revert back to the original language and keep that.” So, what was the point about adding all those amendements (remember the 7 types of brackets?) and then go back to the original? Guess, I better practice a bit more detachment and patience!

I only realised today that the building works that were opposite the UN for the past 2 years have finished. That is where the new building of the US embassy to the UN is! I’ve walked past it without realising until today when I started to wonder why there were so many metal fences put out along 1st Avenue. Well, Obama is in town today and I guess he’ll visit the embassy. So, I bet security will be very tight today, although I don’t think he’s coming to the UN.

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Day 2 at CSD-19

Started off, as always, with the information briefing for all NGOs. This meeting, during week 1, is held in a proper meeting room with microphones, and the chair has  a beautiful wooden hammer to get everybody’s attention. Unfortunately this nice room is not available to Major Groups during the rest of the day.

So, the Women’s Major Group then tried to meet at 10am near the Vienna cafe, but it was all very confusing and not many people showed up. Clearly this wasn’t working and communication within the group was an issue. Let’s hope this improves over time 🙂

As I wasn’t inspired to attend the sessions on Waste and Chemicals, I went to the BIC office across the road for coffee and then met up with British Baha’i friends at the UN. We did the tourist tour, which I’d never done before. Typical one of those situations where you need visitors to do the things that are under your nose. It was very interesting and I got to parts of the UN building, I hadn’t been before. The visual exhibitions and arts in the many corridors are just stunning.

In the afternoon, I went to the negotiation sessionon the Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) as this is the topic the Baha’i delegation is focussing its attention on.Let me give some background on how it works.

The draft negotiation text, as presented by the chair at teh start of CSD-19, was 25 pages long. Two working groups are set up who deal with different topics. They start with reading through the text and inviting amendments from all countries. This is what happens:

The original text (just a random paragraph):

58. Together with poverty eradication and protecting natural resource, changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns is one of the three overarching objectives of sustainable development.

is amended into:

58. [Together with poverty [eradication / reduction – Cambodia] and protecting [and managing – Switzerland, Canada] [the / and soundly managing – Cambodia] natural resource[s – Cambodia] [base – delete Cambodia], changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns is one of the three overarching objectives of [and essential requirements for –Switzerland] sustainable development – delete G77].

Welcome to the world of brackets!!!

More on brackets (alternative, contentious, suspicious, tactical/trading, uncertain, waiting, and weary) later.

Day 6 at CSD-18

Saturday did not mean ‘no work’. After skyping with my folks and love, I went to the UN for the Generation Solution meeting. Basically a brainstorming meeting for civil society to think of ways to engage the general public more with the theme of sustainable consumption & production (SCP). Well, it was a most interesting, and very confusing, meeting. I’m still processing what happened. I think the outcome was that there will be a ‘non-paper’ ready for consultation by Major Groups by the end of CSD-18. Attending did keep Duncan and me occupied until nearly 5pm, so we decided to finish the day with coffee and a movie. It was Saturday after all (and 7 long days of hard work in a row is pretty exhausting).