Friday, December 21, 2007

Toward political climate change for whales?

A few hours before it was announced that the Japanese Government was renouncing to killing humpback whales this season, I asked a senior Japanese official involved in this issue whether he tought the announcement [the details of which I had not yet seen] would be a nice Christmas present for the international conservation community.

"To some extent, yes" , he said, "but we are happy that in exchange there is a commitment to dialogue”.

Well, the postponment of the humpback whale hunt coincides with the Third announcement we made yesterday, of the second Pew-sponsored Whale Symposium we're organizing at the United Nations University Headquarters in Tokyo on 30-31 January, 2008.

In a number of ways the symposium is a high risk venture, perhaps. But look at the programme and the list of speakers who will introduce each panel discussion, and you'll see it certainly constitutes a good opportunity for dialogue. Sixty policy experts from twenty-two different countries will join in Tokyo for this multistakeholders gathering on the whaling issue under an unusual setting (including the Chatham House Rule).

The United States and other countries are relieved that Japan is taking international concern into account.

Because I am convinced that the political climate surrounding whaling policy needs to change, as the title of our Tokyo Symposium "A Change in Climate for Whales" suggests, for now I'm glad that today's announcement can potentially contribute to [political] climate change.

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