5 juni 2012


Less than a month before the High-Level panel, consisting of heads of state and government begins, member states cannot agree on a clear definition of ‘Green Economy’. UN Secretary-General refers to negotiations as ‘painfully slow’ Ban told reporters in a briefing at the United Nations Foundation office in New York. Talks were extended to June 2. "My message is that - this is not the time to argue against small, small items," the Secretary-General pleaded. "Please do not lose the bigger picture."

When I read the outcome of the latest (third) round of ’informal-informal’ negotiations I get the impression that states have lost the bigger picture – if they ever had it. On the other hand, negotiations must be viewed for what they are: discussion of the exact wording of the Zero Draft of the outcome document. Member states care about the wording because the text can later be used against them, when commitments are broken and implementation lags. The negotiations are also complicated by relative power considerations, block interests and the classical ’development versus sustainability’ trade-off. The large (loose) negotiating block in the General Assembly often referred to as G77 emphasise developing economies’ right to development while developed countries tend to emphasise sustainability. Right now, many negotiators from developing countries have realised that poverty and climate change are two challenges that must be addressed simultaneously. The cornerstone of this argument is clear according to me. Developing countries must be allowed to develop and poverty must be reduced. Where this can be done, development shall be sustainable. At this point in time, countries have not yet agreed upon the wording: “whether to refer to “changing unsustainable” or “promoting sustainable” production and consumption patterns.”[1]. I understand why Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urges countries to keep track of the bigger picture.

For anyone interested in following the latest updates on the negotiations, check out the International Institute for Sustainable Development. They offer summarized reports explaining current controversies over the main negotiating document often referred to as the Zero Draft. This is an extract from the third round of informal-informal negotiations: ”During discussions on paragraphs recognizing poverty eradication as the central element of sustainable development and reaffirming that poverty eradication remains the greatest challenge facing the world today, the G-77/China highlighted poverty eradication. The Holy See called for retaining sustainable consumption and production (SCP)”. Countries have different priorities depending on current economic status and political orientation. Yet, the United Nations Secretariat attempts to mediate country differences into one ”focused document”. This is an immense challenge of course.

[1] Taken from International Institute for Sustainable Development: http://www.iisd.ca/vol27/enb2740e.html?&utm_source=www.iisd.ca&utm_medium=feed&utm_content=2012-06-05&utm_campaign=RSS2.0 entry June 5th 2012.

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