Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Zero Draft

What is it?

The zero draft, titled “The Future We Want,” is the first draft of what is to be the first draft of the outcome document of Rio+20. In a revolutionary move towards inclusion and transparency for all stakeholder, the Preparatory Committee for the UNCSD asked the Bureau to lead an “open, transparent and inclusive process, led by member States, to prepare in a timely manner a draft text, based upon all preparatory inputs, to serve as the basis for an outcome document for the Conference.” They invited all relevant stakeholders to submit inputs and contributions to the text by November 1, 2011. Of the 677 submissions they received from political groups, member states, UN organizations, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society, 493 (or 73%) were from civil society. The Bureau then created a massive compilation document (which was discussed in the December Intersessional and in the previous post) and finally, on January 10th, released their consolidated version, the zero draft. This text will now be negotiated in the informal negotiation meetings leading up to the June Conference. More information on the process, the compilation document, and the zero draft itself can be found on the UNCSD website.

Initial Reactions:

The document, which was leaked through the Guardian just several hours before it was officially released, has generated a variety of responses— though most are disappointed or under-whelmed. In the week since its release, a variety of stakeholders— from science communities to youth groups— have voiced their scrutiny of the document’s content, or lack thereof.

The youth group “Rio+twenties” wrote a comprehensive and well balanced analysis of the zero draft, which can be found here, deeming it “not yet the future we want.” They remark that it “lacks ambition” but provides a “useful canvas” to build from. The Green Economy Coalition released their own response to the document, which can be seen here, including a helpful list of questions that must be addressed in the next draft. For a very thorough overview of the responses to the draft, check out Richard Johnson’s “The Road to Rio is Paved with Ambitions,” here. Finally, this encouraging yet critical review from the scientific community provides practical and specific suggestions for moving forward.

At Mount Holyoke, we have been going through the Zero Draft with a fine tooth comb—comparing it to the submissions and past agreements and attempting to decipher what, exactly, this draft is proposing. Here is an image produced using our qualitative content analysis software, giving a visual representation of the words most often used in the Zero Draft: 

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