Communiqué from Exile in the Athlete's Arena

Communiqué from Exile in the Athlete’s Arena

My official accreditation ran out on June 19th (long story), barring me access to Riocentro. SO for the past three days, I have been seeking my fortunes in the Athlete’s Arena across the street (What can I say? The U.N. has no mercy for those who get their paperwork wrong).

This seemed a miserable fate initially, but my fears of exclusion were entirely in error. After three days of wandering the arena, I have seen speeches up-close from U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, UNFF Director Jan McAlpine, and indigenous leaders from the Amazon.

There are also tanks covered in bread.

And now my awards to the various pavilions of the Athlete’s Arena

Best Food: European Commission

Most Frigid Air-Conditioning: United Arab Emirates

Most Surprising Good News About Sustainability: South Korea

Most Numerous Security Guards: Brazil

Most Life Saving: UNEP (for the constant free coffee and public laptops)

Worst Giveaway: China

These ridiculous solar-powered fan hats were given away in the middle of a lovely video put together by UNFF during a session on Sustainable Management of China’s Forests. It was a perfect microcosm for the sustainability challenge itself — with the video showing real issues like deforestation playing out before our eyes, everyone got horribly distracted by the free giveaway of cheaply made junk from China in the back of the room. The deafening rustle of plastic from the mob swarming the desk overpowered the video. It cheapened the experience and clearly demonstrated that even amidst the deliberations on sustainable development, the urge to consume is as powerful as ever.