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Book Review - "A New Diplomacy for Sustainable Development: The Challenge of Global Change"

Bo Kjellén was for many years an environmental ambassador for Sweden and made important contributions in the international environmental negotiations, not least in connection with the Rio Conference in 1992. After retiring, he wrote the book A New Diplomacy for Sustainable Development, about his experiences and views on it. international negotiation work. The book is now more relevant than ever to understand the multilateral negotiating game on environmental issues, says Inge Gerremo

Bo Kjellén, A New Diplomacy for Sustainable Development: The Challenge of Global Change, 2008, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

Diplomacy has taken on a new dimension in the age of globalization. Environmental issues have more than anything else shown that we live in a single world. Thus, today there is a need to jointly try to agree on these issues. At the same time, we need to solve the problems of poverty in the world, manifested through the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. This is the challenge Ambassador Bo Kjellén points out in his book A New Diplomacy for Sustainable Development.

Bo Kjellén is the Swedish diplomat who has had the most influence on the international environmental work in connection with the Rio negotiations. He has received great appreciation for this internationally. In Sweden, he has remained relatively unknown outside his own circle, at least until the climate issue has now emerged as a matter for the public as well.

After a long and solid service in the Foreign Service, Bo Kjellén became one of the main negotiators during the Rio process. This applied to parts of what later became Agenda 21, the Climate Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Bo then became chairman of the international negotiations that later in the 90s led to the convention against desertification. This was the environmental convention especially the African countries saw as "their" convention, which would help solve many of their problems. Bo was given the confidence to lead this work. In addition, Bo participated primarily in the continued climate work as Sweden's environmental ambassador and Swedish chief negotiator. It is especially worth noting that he, together with the then Minister of the Environment Kjell Larsson, during the Swedish Presidency of the EU, "saved" the Kyoto Protocol from, as the United States then hoped, going to the grave.

It is important to provide this background in order to understand the weight with which Bo Kjellén presents his views. It is, as the former UNEP chief and German Minister of the Environment, Klaus Töpfer, says in the preface, a book that is a world to read for anyone who wants to learn more about the multilateral negotiating game, whether you are a student with international ambitions, negotiator in the multilateral field or "frustrated" practitioners who want to see quick results. The book is not least important because we, who live in the 21st century, must learn that broad agreements about our global goods must become part of everyday work.

What is both hopeful in the book but also true for reflection are the descriptions of what individuals have meant in the negotiation work. Here we also learn to understand what good continuity can mean and how devastatingly rapid political changes in individual countries can be. The latter applies not least to the United States' participation in the negotiation work, from an insightful vice president like Al Gore to reluctant presidents like father and son Bush.

We also get proof of what a small country like Sweden can achieve in a large international area, a work in many ways initiated by the then ambassador Sverker Åström, "creator" of the Stockholm Conference in 1972, but at the same time with insightful support from Swedish politicians.

We also get proof of what a small country like Sweden can achieve in a large international area, a work in many ways initiated by the then ambassador Sverker Åström, "creator" of the Stockholm Conference in 1972, but at the same time with insightful support from Swedish politicians.

Most of the issues that were negotiated in connection with the Rio Conference and thereafter belong intimately together, not least the recent climate discussions have shown. Issues such as biodiversity, arid areas, the state of the ozone layer, deforestation and the use of chemicals must be addressed as a whole. To this must be added the ever-overshadowing and acute problem of poverty. The need for a holistic approach will place great demands on future negotiators. This applies not least to negotiators from developing countries, with today limited resources. All this becomes obvious when you read Bo Kjellén's book.

The need to bring about better interaction between those who initiated the negotiation work, ie the environmental representatives, and those who have to make use of the newfound conditions and agreements is particularly clear. If there is one thing I would like to see better clarified in the future, it is precisely how such a consensus between environmental and development representatives should be able to emerge. Bo Kjellén's book clearly indicates that these are issues that must necessarily be dealt with at the level of the Prime Minister in their final phase.

Read and ponder! It is an invaluable book for anyone who wants to try to understand multilateral negotiation work in practice.

Inge Gerremo

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