President of Marshall Islands at Plenary Opening

plenary opening day 2

I was really fortunate to participate in the plenary opening meeting yesterday afternoon, on behalf of the Marshall Islands (RMI), which I interned at their permanent mission in New York over the past semester. As I sat there with three ministers of the RMI (foreign affairs, environment and transportation), senior advisor of climate change and two escorts behind the president, Mr. Christopher Loeak, it struck me that this is a once-in-a-life-time experience: to be able to assist one of the most vulnerable small island states on a national, regional, and now international level.

plenary opening day 2

The RMI…

While there are lots of side events going on in Rio Centro and the Athletes Park across the street, there have also been numerous events spread across the city.  The International Institute for Environment and Development (iied) organized a conference called Fair Ideas: sharing solutions for a sustainable planet which brought together scholars, practitioners and business leaders around the whole range of sustainable development issues being discussed at the conference.

The opening plenary included the heads and representatives from UNEP, IUCN, iied, the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Oxfam which provided a window into the current vision of major development organizations.  It also demonstrated the dominance of economics within the conversations in Rio.   The head of IIED, Camilla Toulmin called for a new evaluation method other than GDP, one that…

Is anyone listening?


By far the most passionate and provoking speech at the plenary this past evening was given by the president of Uruguay.  While most other heads of state echoed routine statements about their support for sustainable development, a green economy, poverty eradication, and how impressed they were with the outcomes of the conference, President Jose Mujica spoke to his colleagues, not at them, and raised questions that none of the other participants were willing to voice.

President Mujica noted that while poverty eradication and sustainable development are laudable goals, we are constrained by the processes of production and consumption that we have created for ourselves.  That if we all aim for a type of lifestyle that only a small portion of the global population can sustain, and if…

Arriving in Rio de Janeiro on Monday June 11th at midnight was very exciting. I knew that soon the entire world would have its eyes on this city following the U.N Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20. Few cars were on the streets as I left the airport and the highway was wide and nicely paved reminding me of the roads leaving JFK in New York.

Soon however instead of heading to the beautifully developed and famous regions of Copacabana, Ipanema, or Leblon I found  myself heading west towards a neighborhood called Engenho Novo in the heart of the city. I had arranged with a family friend to stay with them prior to the actual summit so that I can experience Rio from a local perspective.

In the…

Governors and Major Groups of Legal Amazon Made a Commitment to Implement New Policy

14:00, 21-06-2012, Brazil


The Forum of the Governor of the Amazon Region and the Representatives of the Major Groups delivered the outcome document of  the Sustainable Development Encounter of the Brazilian Amazon Region at Rio+20 conference.

Governors of Legal Amazon (Amazon states) prepared a letter for the Rio+20 high level plenary to propose implementation mechanisms for new forest policy. Among hundreds of proposals that have been proposed so far, the governors of Amazon States finally came to a conclusion after stakeholder consultation process.

The majority of the groups mentioned here are those Acknowledged by the UN, namely: Industry and Business, Children and Youth, Farmers, Indigenous Peoples, Local Governments, NGOs, Scientific and Technological Community, Women, Workers and Trade Unions, as well as the new group established for the…

Highlights: Please refer to the UN-General Assembly

The agreed document has 6 sections, 49 pages and 238 paragraphs containing the colossal work of negotiators done in 3 intersessionals, 3 preparatory committees, 1 special informal/informal negotiation week. As well as incommensurable hours gone to negotiate over four different negotiation texts released by the secretariat of the conference or by the Brazilian presidents, as the last version was.

Staying updated


The greatest place to get extra information about the latest status on the negotiations might not be the plenary room at Rio Centro. I’ll share some comments I’ve picked up from fellow FESers and from my own experience.

Place #1 The shuttle from the hotel to Rio Centro. Ok I admit that turning your neck over your shoulders might not be the right etiquette at an international conference, but when you are searching for information, you need to improvise as much as you can. It just turns out that the hour and a half ride could turn out to be a great time investment.

Place #2 The press conferences and media rooms. It is here where the international media shows their expertise and share all the…