One of the most exciting parts about my internship is the opportunity it provided me to attend the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, more affectionately known as Rio+20. In preparation for this major conference, the rest of our work was put slightly on hold. The CEDHA team began gearing up for its side events (workshops hosted by what the UN called “major groups in civil society” – NGOs, non-profits, etc.). Several of these side events would be reengineered for presentation at a parallel conference called the People’s Forum. As it turned out, the People’s Forum and the official UN conference were two geared towards completely different purposes and audiences, but more about that in later posts. Our events included titles like “The Right to Water and Sanitation: The Challenges of Implementation”, “Promoting Responsible Corporate Conduct: The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises”, and “Trends and Conflict in the Extractive Sector: Designing Public Policy for a More Sustainable Future”. As interns, we would be responsible for making sure these side events ran smoothly and blogging about other workshops we attended and the conference in general.
In a stroke of luck, my roommate and I discovered that our visas (usually $180 for United States citizens) would be free for all conference delegates. Win. The catch was that we visited the Brazilian consulate so many times the guard started to think we were applying for citizenship. Eventually we received our visas and were ready to leave for Rio.
Newsflash: My roommate emails me from Brazil. Our realtor contacted her to say that we had to move out by Friday. It is Thursday. I need to be at the airport Friday at 1:30 pm. Another twist! We can’t move into the new apartment until Friday at noon. Great. In the end though, it worked out fine. I hustled out of our old home, into our new one, and onto the plane. Finally, I was headed to Brazil.