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Last Updated: 01/19/2005Earth Charter Kickboxing: new moves.
Bangkok was the site for the 3rd World Conservation Union Congress – an event that occurs with Olympic frequency, the last one taking place in Jordan in the year 2000. Mohit Mukherjee records a success story.
I cleared immigration at Bangkok airport around 2 a.m. on Monday Nov. 15th morning, but as my taxi drove through the city, I wondered if I had gotten the local time right as the traffic, street food stalls, and people made it feel like mid-evening in San Jose. My taxi driver asked me what brought me to Bankgkok. I 'm here for the IUCN was the best I could manage.
The Congress, a board meeting of sorts for members, makes policy decisions to guide conservation action over the next four years, as well as to launch new conservation initiatives. It was titled People and Nature only one world reflecting the shift in the conservation agenda over the last few decades to now include the human condition as a important concern.
So what was I
all tense the evening the Earth Charter Motion was to be put up to vote in
plenary, November 24th. In the preceeding days, we had agreed to a
number of changes in the wording of the Motion in order to put at ease certain
governmental concerns. Also, based on our observations on which governments had
been vocal in the plenary process (such as
The time for the Motion finally arrived it was past 9 p.m. We hoped that the long day, with several other Motions yet to be voted on, would help us get through quickly. Wishful thinking. The delegate of what many consider to be the most powerful country in the world took the floor. She explained that while her country felt that the Earth Charter had many laudable goals, it also had many contentious principles. Not only would they oppose the motion, they recommended other members to do the same.
Our team was shell-shocked. In nearly 3 days of voting, that government had been keeping a very low profile. In the seconds that followed, a Dutch NGO representative took the floor and expressed that they support the Motion. However, the words of opposition still lingered in the air. The Chair called for a vote. We held our breaths. On the giant screen in front of the room, a red bar indicated that voting was in progress. It took 30 seconds, but time stood still. And then, sudden applause, hugging, and cheers the Motion passed!
As my taxi drove to the airport, I could not help having mixed feelings about the week behind me. I was exhausted by all the politics behind getting our Motion passed. I wondered about the actual impact the endorsement would have, given the time and energy that had gone into the lobbying process. I realized that historic conservation policy had been set, but there seemed to be such a disconnect between the actions of the delegates and the policies they were working towards enacting. I had caught a cold from the air conditioning at the Convention Center which chilled the room as if it was a meeting for penguins certainly not an energy efficient policy.
As my taxi
driver waited in the
Mohit Mukherjee is Education Programme Manager for the Earth Charter Initiative Int'l Secretariat based Costa Rica. www.earthcharter.org www.cartadelatierra.org www.chatredelaterre.org tel: 506-205-9061 fax: 506-249-1929