When the Rubber Hits the Road, Will Civil Society be Left Behind?

16 June 2011

Last week, ECO wondered if Parties would “walk the walk” on supporting civil society participation. The full-day workshop included many nice words and sentiments, but ECO has heard a lot of those and is rather interested in whether those words would be followed up with action.

Now the rubber is hitting the road in the SBI Contact Group discussions. Unfortunately, to ECO’s dismay, the answer remains unclear.

In yesterday’s SBI Contact Group, Saudi Arabia came out strongly against enhancing civil society participation. While appalling, this is perhaps not unexpected, given how much Saudi Arabia has to hide when it comes to their own climate policies.  But Saudi Arabia was not alone in rejecting improvements on transparency and participation.

They were supported by India as well as Antigua and Barbuda on at least some of the issues. These three countries opposed language to encourage more informal consultations to be open to observers – and ECO noted that they were the only ones to oppose.

ECO is forced to wonder, what are Saudi Arabia, India, Antigua and Barbuda hiding?  Well, we know what Saudi Arabia is up to, but why would India, Antigua and Barbuda want to shut civil society out?

The SBI Chair’s draft text provided a solid foundation for enhanced civil society participation and transparency and ECO was pleased to hear Australia, the European Union, Colombia, Mexico, and Bolivia all emphasize the need for transparency and the productive role of civil society organizations, and brought some common sense to the matter. 

Civil society wants to support countries in their collective efforts to save “Mother Earth” from climate change, if only parties would create the space for their support.

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