Part two of today’s blog and what a difference a day makes.

The UN led PrepCom closed very late last night having made minimal progress from the day before. On this third and final day many sessions were closed to civil society. This prevented the openness, transparency and inclusive participation that has been promised by the organisers and eagerly anticipated by delegates such as ourselves.

An ‘open session’ means that civil society can sit around the edge of the negotiating table. It does not allow them to make interventions. Yet observing in silence is crucial if non-governmental delegates are to be up to date on where the negotiations are at and informed of what position countries (or blocs in the cases of the EU and G77) are taking on particular issues.

We have now entered the ‘Sandwich Days’, the days between the PrepCom and the Rio+20 conference when heads of states will arrive to commit to and sign-off an outcome document (we sincerely hope).

The problem is that with such slow progress over the past three days, the next four days are crucial to having a text that is ready for them to agree. In this context, when the PrepCom ended last night the UN gave the Brazilian government the mandate to move things forward.

Delegates awoke this morning lacking the latest text. Indeed, as I track water and Sustainable Development Goals, it was extremely difficult to know what’s happened on either – and rumour isn’t enough to go on. When we arrived at RioCentro the confusion was audible. ‘Have you got the text?’ was the phrase of the day. 

By mid afternoon Brazil had instilled some order and outlined a process. By late afternoon we had a text! Brazil has proposed a ‘consolidated text’ of agreed and yet-to-be-agreed texts. 

Water resource management and water for livelihoods is in there. Tick. So too is a single process to develop universal goals implementable from 2015 (when the MDGs expire) that have sustainability at their core. Tick. Also of note, the agreement on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation is an historic first. 

Outlining the process going forward to a packed room, the Brazilians called for an ‘accelerated dynamic’ and ‘a spirit of compromise’. Being ‘truly at the 11th hour and at the final phase… we are all united by a collective sense of our responsibility and a desire to conclude in a timely fashion.’

The Brazilians have forbidden brackets. Brackets indicate text that parties want added or deleted and are therefore highly controversial. Drafts of the text to date have been extremely convoluted, consisting of brackets within brackets. Going forward, the focus will be on common ground not word order.

The determination of our hosts is notable. They want to identify problems and form solutions so that a text is ready by Wednesday.

Four especially contentious issues have been picked out for further intense negotiation: SDGs, oceans, Means of Implementation and the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development. The clock is ticking.

Elsewhere, the Government of Brazil is hosting the ‘Dialogue Days’, opportunities for civil society to discuss and make recommendations on a series of issues of core concern to the conference. We’re in there on poverty, water and food.

To what end, we’re not sure yet. But we welcome the opportunity to participate and to represent the experiences of our partners and the communities around the world. 

In other news…

Secretary of State Caroline Spelman is in town (we’ll be posting a guest blog from her next week). 

Coming up tomorrow, Team Progressio will be meeting with the Yemeni delegation to discuss Derek’s work on water and our ambition for a waterproofed Rio+20. This is something that we’ve been pressing for for a while so we’re excited.