Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Missed opportunity

If you were wondering why I was talking yesterday morning of the difference between theology and strategy, look at Richard Black's "Whale deal falls at last minute" story which just came out.

Richard captured very well the essence of what happened with the whaling issue at IUCN's World Conservation Congress.

I was really disappointed yesterday morning when we failed to achieve consensus, after working so hard for a whole week and more.

But now I'm taking the long view: we knew from the start that it was going to be a long journey until we'd find an exit to the whaling impasse. Even if we can help identify some short cuts, the whaling issue is so politically loaded, it's like walking on eggs.

The deal-maker which everyone, and certainly Japan and Norway had agreed was the following:

[The World Conservation Congress] acknowledges that there is inadequate scientific information to support an assertion that controlling great whale populations can increase fisheries yields.

The Australian Government preferred to throw in Plenary the following deal-breaker instead, with no prior consultation:

[The World Conservation Congress] acknowledges that the great whales play no significant role in the current crisis affecting global fisheries.

Of course at first sight this formulation may look neater and simpler to the average Member of Parliament in Canberra.

But whether breaking consensus was a good idea remains to be seen.

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