Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Power and The (In)gloriousness

Large international NGOs rule the world. Governments are nothing but aggregations of ciphers, inanely directing the will of unelected, unrepresentative white middle- and upper-class men.


I postulate this hypothesis based on nothing more than a few meetings and after COP drinks with various people, including white middle- or upper-class men running significant sections of large international NGOs. And they are lovely people. But is does strike me that some have disproportionately more influence than is possibly healthy. Evidence is presented in a number of forms. The most worry is that most of the government representatives here attend many other similar meetings on, for example, climate change, biosafety, finance, and tarmac (I made up the last one). They are frequently not specialists and rely on the input of trusted NGO minders.

Government people arrive with a statement of amendments to submit to the working groups tasked with drafting the agreements on biodiversity, often in the form of "We the people and government of X are grateful to the working group for their hard work in drafting an excellent document dealing with these important issues...". This goes on for a bit and then they will feel compelled to object to the erroneous inclusion of a comma here or there. After these initial sessions of comma removal or, rarely, elevation to a semi-colon, they will be ushered away by the heavies (also lovely people) of which ever NGO has managed to secure an interest in their country. They are then held in consensual captivity until such a time as they are needed for a high-level session or to brief their ministers, by which time they are well coached and will object/agree as the NGO dictates. A not insignificant and related feature, is the degree to which large international NGO funding from governments such the US is linked through overseas aid and development money. I see opportunities for all sorts of shenanigans.

Cynicism solidified through exposure to the global indecision making process, I'm now of to check my traps near the Chinese delegate paddock. So far just a Japanese badger (courtesy of Dr Yayoi Kaneko of the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, or TUAT(!). After a long week at COP10 it was great to get close to some wildlife, including a fab little raccoon dog.)

Having trouble with your badgers? Riordan will sett (haha) you straight.


Arigatou gozaimasu.

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