Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The significance of non-state actors in environmental diplomatic negotiations

Globalisation gave way to an increased number of contributions by various non-state actors to diplomatic negotiations. The amount of resources, their flexibility, access to modern technology and information that non-state actors now possess led to a point where governments need the reports and opinions they can provide. A number of services are much better delivered and get easily and effectively funded under supervision of agencies, non-governmental organisations and multinational corporations.

The crucial point of the role of the non-state actors in environmental negotiations is that some of them have been specifically created to do research and they focus on finding the best solutions themselves, on both regional and international levels. And as we could observe, most of multinational negotiations and summits aimed at addressing global environmental issues since 1985 Vienna Convention on Protecting the Ozone Layer until 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change have initiated the publication of a broad range of reports, scientific research, and alterations of national policies (Benedick, R. 1999: 4).

As Jonas Parello-Plesner from the European Council on Foreign Relations said, the EU’s cooperation with non-state actors was a step forward for the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico (East Asia Forum2010). He further points out the advertising prior to the event. In the UK a number of private companies invested a lot of money in order to lobby for stricter corporate reporting on carbon emissions via publicity.

Nowadays the presence of NGOs at the conferences sponsored by the UN is automatic. The summit in Cancun made no difference to this rule. When Japan declared it would no longer commit to the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012, angry reactions were heard by the media from a number of NGOs. Organisations like the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Burkina Faso NGO, or Information and Communication Service (ICS) complained about the injustice this Japanese action would evoke. They also highlighted the possible future consequences whose impact Africa would have to deal with (Afronline 2010).

In the Cancun Summit, NGOs, experts and companies had their place at the Cancun Messe convention centre, while government officials were put at the Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort (Swissinfo.ch 2010). It can be therefore concluded, that even though non-state actors are present at the negotiations and contribute by complementing ideas, their debate is conducted separately from that of the officials.

Afronline, The Voice of Africa (2010) ‘Cancun Summit: Africa’s angry reaction,’ 6th Dec 2010, [online] available from < http://www.afronline.org/?p=10972>

Benedick, R. (1999) ‘Diplomacy for the environment,’ in The Johns Hopkins University’s conference report (February 1999) Environmental Diplomacy Report, Washington, D.C.: The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies [online] available from <http://www.aicgs.org/documents/environmentaldiplomacy.pdf>

East Asia Forum (2010) ‘The EU engaging China on climate change beyond Cancun’ by Parello-Plesner, J., 5th Dec 2010, [online] available from < http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2010/12/05/the-eu-engaging-china-on-climate-change-beyond-cancun/>

Swissinfo.ch (2010) ‘Cancun Climate Summit: Major sticking points will beset Cancun summit,’ by Besson, Pierre-Francois, 7th Dec, [online] available from <http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/specials/climate_change/news/Major_sticking_points_still_beset_Cancun_summit.html?cid=28970664>

1 comment:

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