The Plain White Room

I’m currently sitting in the ‘informal plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly on the report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP)’.

The United Nations loves long titles.

Not a whole lot is going on so far, but Ban Ki-moon is chairing the session.

It’s funny, when I think ‘Secretary General of the United Nations’ and ‘General Assembly’ I tend to imagine grand halls full of history and importance. Instead, we’re sitting in the North Lawn Building, in a rectangular white room with lots of fluorescent lights and not enough chairs.

I feel like this says something about the UN, about international politics in general. The days of grand gestures are gone. But what’s really troubling is that maybe they were never here.

The multilateral negotiating process is slow, technical, and largely devoid of meaningful action. But I still refuse to give up on this process. It simply needs more storytellers.

It’s like outer space. Some might say it too, is slow, technical, and largely devoid of meaning. That is, until people stood up and began to describe how incredible and vibrant it is. Began to tell the story of space. How important it is that we all appreciate and join in the exploration of this beautiful frontier.

Some still argue whether it’s worth it, but I made up my mind long ago. Both space and the United Nations are with unending value.

Now it’s time to tell that story.

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