Rio+20: Is an overhead projector to blame for quarrels over UN summit text?

By Ed King
RTCC in Rio

Technology should be a massive help to complex negotiations such as the ones we are witnessing at Rio+20.

We have never had better access to information, more effective ways to demonstrate science or faster communication links with offices at home.

It seems at least half of all delegates in Rio appear to have an ipad, and those that do not may boast a Blackberry or another form of smartphone.

At the original Rio Earth Summit in 1992 wifi was a wierd film genre. Today it’s the lifeblood of large conferences like this, along with water, food and transport. The moment it slows the grumbling begins.

Not everyone agrees that technology has been a benefit.

Langston Goree is Director of International Institute of Sustainable Development Reporting Services – possibly the most comprehensive source of micro-talks detail you’ll find – relied upon by NGOs, journalists and negotiators alike.

But the target of his ire is not the humble ipad.  It’s overhead projectors – which he says are a major source of trouble at the talks.

They allow changes made by countries to be automatically seen and debated as opposed to the situation 20 years ago when the chair would listen, reformulate and feed back into the talks.

He says it has led to a breakdown in the art of negotiations. Have a look at the interview below (excuse the first question) and let us know what you think.


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