For several years after we started the Earth Negotiations Bulletin
in 1992, I would write a letter each year to our small group of subscribers around the world, telling each of them how we were doing, who on our team of writers had gotten married, had babies, finished his or her Ph.D., etc. Our readership was small, the Internet had not been invented and few people had email accounts. In those days, we knew most of our readers from the meetings we attended and they knew us as the “ENB Team” sitting at the back of the room, taking notes.
As the years went by, we grew busier and our readership grew larger and “virtual.” With the creation of our first website in 1994 and the establishment of our email lists, we stopped sending out photocopies of our reports by “snail mail” and for some reason the annual letter ended as well. However, during those intervening years our team continued to grow, writers got married, had babies, finished their Ph.D.s and we, as a group, have thrived. Last year there were more than eighty ENB Team members who worked on reports from more than seventy meetings.
Now, in 2009, with tens of millions of web hits, more than three million PDF files downloaded last year, combined email lists of over one hundred and twenty thousand readers and people who find our material accidently through Google searches and articles forwarded by email, you, our readers, may not know who writes the Earth Negotiations Bulletin and our other online products.
Lynn Wagner, the Editor of Linkages Update, suggested that I might want to start writing a fortnightly column, to try and restore some of that informality and connectedness between those of us who create the content and all of you who consume it. This is the first of those efforts.
Linkages Update is one of many electronic publications, lists and reports published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Division of Reporting Services. While IISD has its headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Reporting Services has its offices in New York City, several blocks from the United Nations. While we have a large team of writers, editors, photographers and logistical coordinators, they are all mostly Ph.D. students, academics and retired diplomats living all over the world and working only part time for us. Most visitors to our New York office are surprised to find that it is small and unpopulated. Our Operations Manager, Maja Schmidt-Thomé, works most days from home in New Jersey and is moving this month back to Germany, where she will work virtually. Chris Spence, the Deputy Director of IISD Reporting Services, lives and works from Sausalito, California. Our accounting is done from IISD Headquarters in Winnipeg and Lynn writes and edits from the suburbs of Washington, D.C. Alice Bisiaux, who writes and edits the “Daily Feed” and the CLIMATE-L.ORG website, does so from Barcelona. Our Digital Manager, Diego Noguera, is always online from Bogotá and he supervises his assistant, Joe Nyangon, who is either here in New York or at home in Kenya. Richard Sherman manages our African Regional Coverage Project from Cape Town and receives assistance from Tallash Kantai in Nairobi. Pam Chasek, one of the other founders of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin and Executive Editor of IISD Reporting Services, works from the New York office, as do I when I’m not at meetings in Bonn, Bangkok or some other UN meeting venue.
In the coming months, I look forward to updating you on our team members, how we find the resources to do what we do, the recruiting process we use to find our talented writers and behind-the-scenes looks at how we write the Earth Negotiations Bulletin and come up with our daily “In the Corridors” pieces.
The end of each year and early January are always a busy time for us in the New York office, as we begin our annual fundraising campaign. This year we face a unique challenge due to the accelerated schedule of climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC. Somehow, we are going to have to find an additional US$400K to pay for coverage of six or, possibly, eight weeks of climate meetings before Copenhagen. Our current fundraising proposal for 2009 can be found on our website at http://www.iisd.ca/donate/. If you have not received a copy of our proposal and letter requesting support, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss ways that you, your government or organization might be able to assist us this year.
All the best,