This place is chaotically powerful. I mean there are so many things which are happening parallelly that it is difficult to keep a track and give an overview of Rio+20. People believe that the number of issues which are there on the tables along with the number of places these are being individually discussed dilutes the essence of Rio+20.
There are people who discuss these articles and sections as if they have been reciting these from their childhood while I feel pretty lost in this thick jungle of more than 50,000 people who have gathered for this conference. I sometimes wish that I had clones such that a few of them would sit simultaneously in some of the negotiation rooms where topics of my interest like gender, climate change and green economy were being discussed while one clone would be dedicated to researching at a reference library.
The negotiations are as unpredictable as the weather in Rio. On a morning when you see the sun shining bright, you decide to give the umbrella a miss only to realise when you reach Rio Centro that it has started drizzling. Similarly, just when you think that the negotiated text can’t go weaker than this, everything changes, new clauses are introduced.
Oh! a quick primer for everyone who does not know what the UN lingo with regard to the negotiations could mean: retain means to keep text, delete means to remove the text that is bracketted and reserve means that to be decided later. Generally, the people occupying the floor for speaking out aloud and making a stand are US, Canada, EU (all European Union countries negotiate as a bloc (I haven´t seen them disagreepublically on the negotiating tables though they do chime in individually fro time to time), Switerland, G77 (the largest Third World coalition provides the developing world to enhance its joint negotiating capacity on all major international issues) and the Holy See (the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome).
At the informal sessions of the negotiations which took plce between the 13-15th June, 2012 Holy See managed to kick quite a storm so much so that people questioned their participatory Rights if not aloud then at least in their minds. While I questioned the G77 (negotiated by Indonesia) stand specially as the block does not always have a consensus position on the text. Where were the voices from countries like India when people on the negotiatig table supported every ammendment proposed by the Holy See and in addition proposed the deletion of the following language in the Health Section:
• Delete “full” implementation of ICPD (International Conference on Popultion Development) and Beijing.
• Delete human rights of women and add men and children because women are not a specific category.
• Right of adolescents to decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to their sexuality (delete adolescents, replace with youth, delete sexuality, keep Sexual Reproductive Health).
• The Holy See stated that the CPD Outcome Document was not the reflection of international consensus but “only a commission of the UN”.
I have to question the Indian stand because we are the second most populated country in the world. We have been rated worst country in G20 to be a woman and yet we let such text crop up at the International negotiating tables? Do governments like playing games with us by shaking us up through such debacles and test our tenacity or do they just do not want to move on instead of backwards in terms of International stands? Don´t the governmental reps understand that it is their duty towards us, the citizens of their countries to get productive results from such gatherings such that a tax payers money is not spent supporting them wastefully in such expensive places?
Thank goodness for the engagement of civil society. It seems that they did a good job of lobbying and persuaded the G77 to not support the Vatican’s stand on sexual reproductive health. SRH might seem like a unimportant topic for this conference, with its focus on all kinds of issues related to the environment, economics and social development, but it isn’t. Maria de Bruyn of Ipas is of the view, “When women and young people are able to better control their reproductive health and have autonomous decision-making about their sexual and reproductive lives, they are also in a better position to take advantage of opportunities offered by a green economy and to deal with environmental challenges” and it seems that view is supported by many studies done by Population Action International.
The policy lingo for anyone who would like to check what the stands made were at the negotiating table such that text could be given to the Brazillian government for collation such that it could be discussed at the High Level government representative meeting next week:
Gender 7 was ‘agreed ad ref’ today and the Health 8 (Health and population) had a new language referenced from ECOSOC 2009 para 16, proposed by G77. The new text was adopted by all delegation while the Holy See registered their deep reservation.
Gender 7 is something we will discuss another time specially because it talks abt gender mainstreaming in accordance with the national legislation and policies >think about countries where there are no gender policies(!!)< but other than that it is good to see that if we haven’t moved ahead on the path of development, at least we have been able to (somewhat) remain at the same place that we have earned over the past 20 years or more (!!) during the Prep Meeting of Rio+20.
This post is a tweaked version of the post on www.amplifyyourvoice.org.
About the authorRoli Mahajan
Roli is an editor, activist and journalist living in India. She has worked as videographer for the MacArther Foundation; she was an International Year of Youth Journalist at UNFCCC conferences in Cancun and Durban; and she is a Rio+20 Fellow.