The two weeks United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992 (dubbed The Earth Summit) was a landmark summit that heralded global consensus on attaining ecological and sustainable development appreciative of the deepening crisis arising from global ecological degradation.
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The need to adopt eco-efficiency during the conference was achieved subsequent to impassioned negotiations between various nations and organizations that were initiated by assorted UN members from December 1989 after intense preparation, training and discussions amongst the 178 countries and about 20,000 delegates represented plus over 1,400 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
The conference was held twenty years after the preliminary United Nations Conference on Human Environment (UNCHE) in Stockholm. Greater awareness and the end of the cold war generated enhanced cohesion, wanting during the Stockholm conference (Cleveland et al.).
Global environmental conferences are always manifest by conflicting rival groups of the pro-liberal eco-efficiency category and those advocating for a gradual enforcement of the convention. According to Alfredson and Cungu (7), agenda setting prior to negotiations aid in forestalling and easing potential bottlenecks while confining the delegates to the preparation, formulation, execution, and appraisal stages.
The Rio Summit was memorable for enacting the comprehensive Agenda 21 proposals (27 edicts). The Brundtland Commission or the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) set the stage for the Agenda 21 adoption of sustainable development programs (EPA).
The organizational theory affirms that institutions with well-defined structures, clear vision and objectives are likely to demand similar arrangement during negotiations while the contrary is true for those with amorphous frameworks. Nevertheless, individual negotiators are more likely to influence the outcome of the negotiations in the choice and decisions made.
Thus this summit had a Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) which negotiated the agenda from 1990 to just before the conference with the fourth session (“New York Marathon”) the most fruitful; drafting nearly 90 percent of the Rio Declaration. However, other contentious issues were left to the delegates after the organizers failed to agree on thorny issues, typical of UN’s amorphous structure (Hass et al.).
According to Barnaud et al. (7) influential stakeholders seldom keenly participate in negotiations if they have better alternatives unless compelled by diminishing clout.
In distributive and integrative negotiations, some stakeholders are rigid, upholding their positions until they gain advantage or compromise in a zero-sum or “win-lose” upshot whilst other groups cede positions thus diluting the expected concession applying duress or “Salami tactics” typical of US standpoint.
This strategy is contrary to that of “expanding the pie” by EU nations, whereby negotiators add value to the deal thus providing a win-win situation in an interest-based deal or reciprocal approach (Bárcena 128).
In the preliminary discussion groups on Biological Diversity in 1991, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) held several meetings culminating in Nairobi’s final draft, as did the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on issues concerning desertification (UNICEF).
Similarly, the 1992 UN Conference on Water and the Environment held in Dublin brought together stakeholders concerning fortification of forests and freshwater concerns. Kolb and McGinn (4) thus affirm that organizational progress, conduct, and schemes result from prior negotiations.
The status quo can, however, be modified through concessions as official and unofficial groups request changes while organizational discussions establish firm working arrangements.
Negotiations are a medium of communication and stakeholders’ organizations. The emergent global correlation, interdependencies and swift tempo of technological change should be utilised to offset the intensifying danger occasioned by ecological imbalances and threat of rising sea waters among other issues.
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Grim ecological and development problems continue to weigh heavily on the planet, thus posing serious ramifications for future generations. However, international negotiators and governments must individually review their inflexible and dogmatic positions, avoiding the failures inherent in groupthink to deal with deepening severe global ecological and economic problems soberly.
Alfredson, Tanya and Cungu, Azeta. Negotiation Theory and Practice: A Review of the Literature. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, 2008. Print
Bárcena, Alicia. “An Overview of Follow-up of Agenda 21 at the National Level.” 1994. Green Globe Yearbook. Web.
Barnaud C., Van Paassen A., Trébuil G., Promburom T., Bousquet F. “Dealing with power games in a companion modelling process: lessons from community water management in Thailand highlands.” The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension (2010): 16 (1): 55-74.
Berton, Kimura, and Zartman. “International Negotiation.” (Class text – please insert details) Cleveland, Cutler, Ida Kubiszewski and Merrill Miller. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 2007. Web..
EPA. History of Sustainability. 2011. Web.
Kolb, Deborah and McGinn, Kathleen. “Beyond Gender and Negotiation to Gendered Negotiations.” Negotiation and Conflict Management Journal. (2008): 09-064: pp.1-12.
United Nations. UN Conference on Enviroment and Development (1992). 23 May 1997. Web..
UNICEF. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), The Progress of Nations. 1998. Web..