You would think that a conference that was once billed as a meeting designed to come to an agreement on a “Kyoto Protocol” for all living things would get just a bit more media respect. Or public attention.
There is no doubt that the COP10 conference taking place in Nagoya between Oct. 18 and 29 will tackle some issues basic to the surivial of the planet, and of the human species. The goals of the conference include reviewing the progress, or, more properly, lack thereof, in conserving biodiversity resources over the past decade, assessing what went right and what went wrong, and then coming to an agreement on how much to protect the world’s terristrial and marine areas over the next decade.
You would also think that such a conference would attract the tens of thousands of people who showed up in Copenhagen last December for a climate change conference, including nearly 150 world leaders. But, in fact, COP10 appears to a be conference few people have ever heard of, and one whose importance to the politicians, and therefore the international media, is distinctly less than climate change.
Why? Several reasons have been offered. First, the thing is being held in Nagoya of all places. A conference focusing on biodiversity and preservation and conservation of the environment being in Nagoya? One can already hear those in other Japanese cities snickering at the irony. However, jokes aside, a combination of financial factors (a high yen keeping NGOs and many delegates away, the costs involved in getting to Nagoya from abroad, a busy autumn schedule of other environmental conferences related to climate change, biodiversity’s more glamorous twin) means international politcal and media attention on COP10 has been far less prominent than is the case with climate change.
But if COP15 in Copenhagen was a three-ring circus, COP10 in Nagoya, as it begins at least, has the feel of an academic conference at a medium-sized university. Discussions in the sessions and hallways are far more scientific and technical than COP15, and the solutions to problems like what to conserve and how to conserve it in a way that leads to revitalized biodiversity are often highly arcane and always very political. The NGO presence is noticably less than what it was in Copenhagen at the beginning, and, as one media representative asked, where are all of the protestors? With the exception of Falun Gong members passing out literature in front of the the station closest to the convention center, NGOs at COP10 have to take it to the streets. That, of course, is likely to change as the conference gets underway. But it’s hard to imagine 200,000 people marching through downtown Nagoya on behalf of biodiversity, which is roughly the number that were reportedly in Copenhagen last December marching for an agreement to halt global warming.
In short, the discussions at COP10 do not lend themselves as easily to summarization in a short newspaper piece or a 30-second soundbite. So, bear with us hacks here at COP10, as we attempt to make sense of scientists and policymakers speaking about complex issues with complex solutions in UN-speak.
JT Staff Writer Eric Johnston will be in Nagoya for the COP10 conference, which runs from October 18-29, and blogging on a semiregular basis.