Saturday, January 7, 2012

The 2nd Intersessional

On December 15th, in the midst of Mount Holyoke final exams, a small student research team led by Professor Catherine Corson— Emma Puka-Beals, Angela Kim (also a member of the SustainUS youth delegation), and myself— escaped the flurry of finals and ventured to the UN headquarters in New York City for the 2nd Intersessional Meeting of Rio+20. As former students in Professor Corson’s “Science and Power in Environmental Governance” course, as well as invested researchers of the “green economy,” sustainable development, and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) process, it was very exciting to finally see the subjects of our research in action.

Yiting Wang, Bridget Brady, Emma Puka-Beals, and Angela Kim at the 2nd Intersessional Meeting
The 2nd Intersessional Meeting was the last meeting of the UNCSD before the preparation of the “Zero Draft Outcome Document” and was convened to discuss the format, content, and structure of the document. The Zero Draft is, in laymen’s terms, the first draft of what will eventually be the final outcome document of Rio+20. The creation of this outcome document is a fairly unique process that the Preparatory Committee for the UNCSD has gone to great lengths to make open, transparent, and inclusive for all stakeholders. All member states, relevant United Nations system organizations, and relevant stakeholders were invited to submit their own inputs and contributions to the document by November 1, 2011. These inputs, a total 677, are compiled on the UNCSD website and intended to be used as a basis for discussion on the Zero Draft at the 2nd Intersessional.

At the two-day meeting, member states, UN organizations, political groups, and Major Groups (representatives of civil society— more on this later) gave statements outlining their proposals for the Zero Draft. A thorough summary of the meeting can be found on the UNCSD website, or though the comprehensive outline of the discussions and statements from the meeting by Third World Network.

While it was fascinating to listen to the goals, concerns, and proposals for Rio+20 of different member states and stakeholders in the Intersessional, I found some of the most interesting dialogue from the meeting to be outside of the official discussions- in the focused “side events” run by various stakeholders and beyond the walls of the UN headquarters, at the purposefully overlapping “Occupy Earth Summit” events. An offshoot of the Occupy movement, Occupy Earth Summit is citizens lead movement aimed at engaging in the Rio+20 process and the shaping of the “The Future We Want” and holding the UN accountable to those it represents. Learn more about Occupy Earth Summit at their website and on the Human Impacts Institute blog.

We look forward to seeing how the statements and discussions from the past two days will be reflected in Zero Draft.

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