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North-South Divisions in Multilateral Environmental Agreements: Negotiating the Private Sector's Role in Three Rio Agreements

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image of International Negotiation

This article analyzes negotiations in the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention to Combat Desertification and focuses on discussions related to technology transfers from the North to the South. These transfers and the financial flows that the private sector could bring with it are closely related to what was believed to be a bargain reached in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit. During subsequent negotiations, delegates from developed and developing countries have followed a fairly predictable 'script' on these issues – developed countries generally insist that the private sector, as the owner of the technology, must be involved in its transfer, while developing countries have insisted the governments of developed countries should honor their past commitments and promote these transfers. This study describes the development of the script under the three negotiating bodies at Rio, examines the variables that have contributed to the development of the script and, based on this analysis, identifies opportunities to move the talks forward.

Affiliations: 1: International Institute for Sustainable Development Reporting Services, 501 Great Falls Street, Falls Church, VA 22046 USA


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