IWC 64 (2012): And they’re off!
Panama City, Panama…hot, muggy, teeming with life and Latin music – a weirdly fitting backdrop for the 2012 meeting of the International Whaling Commission. Who would guess that amidst the ordered chaos of a bustling city, sun-roasted vacationers, grinding poverty, and all-night discos, the fate of thousands whales worldwide will be decided over the course of one very intense week. I find the juxtaposition of culture and circumstances – of life and death – more than a little unsettling. I am, after all, here to address the senseless death of whales from an archaic industry in the throes of its death knell – whaling.
Though the Plenary meeting begins on Monday, July 2nd, a number of my NGO colleagues have been here for days, gearing up for what we know will be an action-packed week. Already, a palatable but always professional tension has been mounting among international NGOs. The biggest bone of contention is the U.S.-led Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) “bundle” resolution with the Russian Federation and St. Vincent & the Grenadines (URL). More on this in a later post.
As is always the case, NGOs representatives including myself have been pinging from one working group meeting to another, networking and strategizing, sharing information and resources, and meeting with commissioners and delegates from sunrise until well into the wee hours of the morning.
There will be no time for indulging in sightseeing during this trip and it’s just as well. Apparently, this part of the city is known for “security challenges”. Already, a colleague has been beaten and robbed (fortunately, she’s recovering) and a representative from the U.S. Embassy stated that if they’d known in advance that the Secretariat was considering holding its annual meeting in this part of the city, they would have vigorously opposed the idea. Awesome site planning.
It’s always wonderful to see my NGO whale conservation colleagues from all over the world. You will never find a more dedicated, knowledgeable, effective, and passionate group of professionals assembled under one roof. This year, there are over 90 NGO representatives from over 50 organizations, and if we can collectively channel our expertise, energy, and priorities… we will be a force to be reckoned with.
It’s been an energizing, exciting couple of days of preparation for this week’s plenary meeting. We’re in the starting blocks now, with the hope that this year’s meeting will result in meaningful, positive change for whales.
Stay tuned. You’re not going to want to miss a thing.