By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, June 5 – When the Montreal-based Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Cristiana Pasca Palmer held a press conference at the UN on June 5 about Marine Protected Areas, Inner City Press as the only media to ask a question raised criticism about Canada's proposed Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area. It was shrunken to avoid key fishing grounds, it allowed oil and gas exploration. But Palmer, and the first expert they referred to, weren't aware of it. Another more voluable responder from the back of the room said maybe oil and gas exploration weren't bad, or the purpose of the Marine Protected Area. Apparently not. But shouldn't UN agencies be aware of such controversies in their host countries? As the Ocean Conference started at the UN there were corporate exhibits including a large one by Suez Environmental, a firm much protested for its role in water privatization. Inner City Press asked the UN Department of Public Information, which is sponsoring press conference complete with corporate moderators asking softball questions to supermarket chains, who in the UN is vetting these corporate commitments. You'll have to wait until the end of the week, was the answer. But the corporations are already getting blue washed in the UN website and hallways, just as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reflexively offered praise to Citigroup last week, while his Global Compact covered up for a company exploiting the natural resources of Western Sahara. Meanwhile another topic Inner City Press started asking about last week, fisheries subsidies, will not be acted on in the Ocean Conference but rather, if at all, in the World Trade Organization at the end of the year. We'll have more on this.