Twenty years ago, the first issue of what was eventually called the Earth Negotiations Bulletin was circulated during the Fourth Session of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on Environment and Development.
Pamela Chasek, Johannah Bernstein and Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI recognized that there was a need among participants at the UNCED PrepCom for information to help them track the negotiating streams on 40 chapters and the declaration. Chasek, Bernstein and Goree began writing summaries of the negotiations for nongovernmental organization representatives who were unable to attend the meeting or were arriving late, but government representatives also started requesting their reports. They quickly realized that their efforts were facilitating the negotiation process in a number of ways. After UNCED, the International Institute for Sustainable Development invited the three founders to continue the publication of the Bulletin at the 47th session of the UN General Assembly and its discussions on UNCED follow-up. From that point until now, the Bulletin has provided coverage of over 530 meetings of 30 different environment and development-related negotiation processes.
This month, to mark this special occasion and the very interesting role that Earth Negotiations Bulletin writers have played during the past twenty years, we are launching a book, titled The Roads from Rio: Lessons Learned from Twenty Years of Multilateral Environmental Negotiations (Resources for the Future Press/Routledge, 2012). This book examines the past twenty years of multilateral environmental negotiations, drawing on the authors' and editors' first-hand knowledge as Earth Negotiations Bulletin writers to illustrate the changes that have taken place. The chapters examine the proliferation of meetings, the changes in the actors and their roles (governments, nongovernmental organizations, secretariats), the interlinkages of issues, the impact of scientific advice, and the challenges of implementation across negotiating processes. For more information, visit http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415809771/. As my co-editor Pamela Chasek and I note in the acknowledgements, “this book is our effort to give back to our sources and colleagues, in the hope that it will provide even a small return on the inspiration and insights that they have given to us.”
It is fitting that, during this anniversary month, we are also recruiting the next group of writers for the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. This issue of Linkages Update does not contain a “Main News” section because the last fortnight was a rare two-week stretch during which we did not have writing teams in the field. However, our calendar will quickly fill up, as 2012 is going to be a very busy year. We are looking forward to welcoming new writers and to sharing our unique role in documenting the proceedings of multilateral environmental negotiations with them, and with our readers around the world.