Adrian Yeo tells us why ECO has magical properties...
A day in UNFCCC sessions will not be complete without flipping through a copy of CAN’s ECO Daily Newsletter. For negotiators, the magic of ECO usually begins while they are still having breakfast. Readers get a quirky, insightful perspective into the previous day’s negotiations and more. But as I learnt, many hard-working elves are needed in order to let ECO work its magic.
According to Gene Sharp’s 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action, producing a publication allows communications and engagement with a wide audience of stakeholders. Editors of ECO have been known to receive calls from parties, NGOs and journalists enquiring the titles of the next day’s issue. What makes it so popular?
ECO has proven to be an effective tool, especially when used to amplify issues that have not been discussed in the negotiating room. Any of the over 900 CAN member organisations can submit articles to be published, and inspiration for these comes from many places - from the security check queues, along the corridors, in the café or of course within the plenary and negotiation rooms. But the best usually come from unsuspected turns of events, in the heat of a power play of the negotiations. And last but not least, a good dose of humour allows the elephant in the room to surface, and keeps parties on their toes.
During the latest Bonn UNFCCC session, I joined one of the midnight Editorial Board shifts – where the magic happens. Linh Do, the Chief Editor / Wizard of ECO, explained to us newbies that the submitted articles always need to be fact-checked and deliberated on by the various thematic working groups in CAN. This ensures the credibility of the piece and allows us to be strategic in using the article to drive negotiations forward.
Then it’s the editors’ job to put the articles in plain language, explaining some of the technical terms, as besides the negotiators, media and NGOs, ECO is also read by the general public outside the UNFCCC bubble. After more than 3 hours of revising and finalising, the Chief Editor begins the laborious task of arranging the articles to fit into the famous ECO template (that has been around since 1972!). Juggling word count, simple graphics and titles, her task may run until 2-3am before calling it a day! The next morning, volunteers will pick up the warm fresh prints of ECO which have magically appeared and have them distributed at various stations around the venues.
Sourcing and enlisting writers and articles, coordinating experts to fact-check, having volunteers to edit and produce ECO and using the newsletter as a lobbying tool for the greater climate change movement is a mammoth task, but somehow CAN manages to pull it off again and again. To me, ECO really defines the network. It takes so much to have it work and thrive so successfully, but when that all comes together magical things can occur!