Thursday, 17 December 2009

Who cleans the mess?

NGO's party, last Saturday, was full, completely full. The venue was a 2 story building with access on two sides of the block. It was difficult to move around, diffcult to get a drink.
Dancing people, climate change experts, young first-time-attenders, former chief negotiators.
You name it. At some point, while a nice group was playing at the stage, I thought I could shout "REDD", Ädaptation", "AWG-LCA" and each time at least 40 people would turn their heads and some would come and talk. But no one thinks about the aftermath, the hours after the party. Who picks up all the empty or half-emptied bottles? Who sweeps the floor? Who takes out the bags full of trash? Where do they put it? Are all the utensils always there, maybe next to the fridge full of local and imported beers?

A COP is similar. Two full weeks with its days and nights full of excitment. Parties negotiators moving around all at the same time, in coordinated dancing; energetic talking in the alleys; regional groups discussing their position; side-events with lots of interest information. At the stage, not the band but the celebrities. From Mr. Brown to Mrs. Clinton; from Bernarditas Muller to Mr. Jiabao; from Greenpeace to farmers from Canada.

But who cleans the mess once the COP is finished? This is not a rhetorical question and I do not refer to the physical place, the Convention Center where everything happened.
What I mean is who cleans the name of the host if something goes wrong, if no agreement is reached? Who takes all the garbage, the words and words of numbing comments that stop the process? Where is the Secretariat when delegates with badges are turned down and forbidden from coming into the site? Was the person in charge always there, next to the cart full of 5 kr apples?

The host of next COP has to stand up for the aftermath. It is almost obliged to. If no good results are obtained from one Conference, the next host could intervene to save the face, clean the mess, and raise the morale. It is not the first time in COP's history. It is the way it is.

From Rio to Geneve to Kyoto... to Bali to Poznan to Copenhagen. There is always the risk of failure and the probability of success. But when things come out bad... who cleans the mess?

A moment ago, a negotiation session on NAMAs was suspended because "the room will be used by the next group". No indication on when the discussion will be resumed and where will take place. No rooms available. And who cleans the mess?

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