17 December 2007

Way Beyond System: 14 days in global wordsmith conference


I've involved in several environmental summits since 1992, started as a young fellow joining the party delegate with specific job to deal with speech writing and conference text analysis, assisting a senior policy analyst. In the meantime I always had chance to join popular forum outside the conference room, where my fellow activists run campaigns and conveyed alternative options. The year of 1996 is my last involvement as part of party delegate, as I distrusted the gigantic monoculture structure's UN, since I found irrelevance of all the hubbubs and reality in the field.

Lessons I learned are more or less the same, a global ambition to settle the planet crisis using structured talks, assuming that diplomacy is sufficient instrument to accommodate highly varied crisis, interests, and goals of parties involved. And there's always involving grouping, regrouping, interests' caucus, lobbies, pressures (and harassments), in a well structured arena of wordsmith. Heated debates over text are the only vivid scene we can have. And there's one overlooked thing: The language as the primary medium. English is indeed the primary language with other languages commonly used, such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese, and Japan. But language is not merely a matter of word-by-word conversion, it contains mindset backed with cultural, social and political differences.

I have awkward feeling when I have to attend the largest world summit on climate change in Bali from 3 to 14 of December 2007. That was like a long flash back to my involvement in multilateral environment conferences before 1996. I have my own target attending the summit, pushing a deforestation moratorium call to government of my country, using the conference as the pressure point. But I couldn't freely move around since I was part of a big negotiation team of an international organization that carried out sets of mission. Juggling around between the main events, side events and the parallel events under an inconvenient and strange hot and humid weather around the Nusa Dua tourism complex, was inevitable.

I have to face all things I hate. Hunger, poverty, disaster and other human drama have been presented in an elegant way. Posters, pins, stickers, calendars, speeches, presentations. Exhibitionism is common during the conference instead of sense of urgency to tackle the real crisis faced by people in the grassroots. Diplomacy, or battle with words, is the primary instrument, making the true crisis became a terms of reference instead of terms of address.

"Is there any alternative?" is always a question back from many friends every time I convey my doubt on UN system. I have to admit, it won't be easy not to be pragmatic when I directly involve (again) in the very complex structure of dialogues. Conveying a doubt about the system is like pouring salts over the sea water. Being a defiant in a huge structure system is always like a person sitting in the perimeter watching the hubbubs uncomfortably. And here I were in 14 days of world wordsmith conference talking about climate crisis.

My only entertaining moment was about the opportunity to meet many friends from my early involvement in environmental movement, back in mid 80s. I even accidentally met my professor in the past who currently works for a big natural gas company trying to offset its emission through a clean development mechanism (CDM). Some friends who in the past shared same concerns are now enjoying luxury life by working in lucrative carbon trading corporations. I have no envy, but anguish. Meeting them have been amusing moment for me, though it usually wouldn't last long, as we always run out of subject about our pasts and turned to talk about the current business where our position are extremely in the opposite poles to each other.

17 December 2007

Read more... Sphere: Related Content

No comments: