The Paris Talks and Independent Diplomat

Reuters, in Paris, on the work of Independent Diplomat.  This is the fruit of six years of relentlessly hard work by an extraordinary group of young diplomats, led by the brilliant Dean Bialek:

“The Marshall Islands and the bloc of 44 island states rely on pro-bono advice from New York-based Independent Diplomat, a non-profit consultancy started in 2004 by former British diplomat Carne Ross.

The agency makes former diplomats and others with international experience available to clients that have included elements of the Syrian opposition (Independent Diplomat says it holds clients to a strict human rights standard) and South Sudan.

Its website posts a quote from Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, crediting International Diplomat with helping “level the playing field by advising on diplomatic strategy, securing press coverage, and helping us get a seat at the table.”

Independent Diplomat declined to comment for this story. But the Marshall Islands and its allies among low-lying countries have translated their fears of being swamped by rising seas into one of the most resonant messages in the climate change debate.

U.S. President Barack Obama took time after his opening speech on the first day of talks on Nov. 30 to meet separately with leaders of the group, promising $30 million in climate risk insurance schemes for vulnerable countries in the Pacific, Central America and Africa.”

Today, the last lap in Paris.  The main issue?  The five year review period – a demand from the most vulnerable states that treaty commitments to reduce carbon be improved every five years, not fifteen, as originally drafted.  The originator of this proposal?  Three young diplomats sitting around a table in Majuro, the Marshall Islands, 18 months ago.

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