Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Whales in Lisbon

I'm staying in Lisbon for the next week and a half, for the meeting of the Pew Whales Commission we've been setting up for the last 6 months.

At the last count, yesterday, we had about 47 people coming from the six continents, including fourteen Pew Whales Commissioners and a fairly large sample of observers [from academia, governments and NGOs]. So, logistics is hectic, let alone politics perhaps.

The timing of our meeting coincides with the release this week of Alvaro de Soto's report with "suggestions" for the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to move forward. The Soto Report makes good and interesting reading, I think [the devil is in the details of course, and -- no surprise here -- some of the options laid out are better than others; but let's hope everyone takes a big breathe before trashing it altogether]. It will be discussed in just a month time at a special intersessional meeting of the IWC at FAO headquarters in Rome. As could be expected, some governments and other stakeholders are already reacting [See Japan's "no way" reported statement out of Tokyo for example, or WWF's and Greenpeace's.]. Our meeting in Lisbon is conducted under the Chatham House Rule whereby no individual statement can be attributed to his/her author, in an effort to go beyond posturing. We'll see if it helps moving things forward.

I just took the photo illustrating this post from the window outside my office in the beautiful headquarters of the Luso-American Foundation (FLAD) where the meeting will take place next Monday and Tuesday. The weather forecast for the coming days isn't perfect, but I nevertheless trust that the Pew Whales Commission will be inspired by the beautiful architecture here, and by FLAD's amazing art collection.

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