Andres Pirillo: ‘We haven’t betrayed Australian environmentalists’

“Someone told me what is the difference between a statement the great Barrier Reef “In Danger” and what we agreed to. Can someone explain to me what is the difference? Who speaks, upset, is Andres Perillo, attorney, member of the executive branch of the PSOE, former mayor of Buñol, former deputy, former senator, former deputy, and since August 2018, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Spain to UNESCO. In other words, the man who led the Spanish delegation during the 44th session of the Council of Ministers UNESCO World Heritage Committee, where it was discussed whether to include Australian coral reefs in The World Heritage List in Danger. Perelló is upset by the controversy raised, which he calls “a storm in a glass of water,” and explains climate That everything is a naming problem: the barrier will not be officially “At risk” until next year, when relevant audits are conducted. And this is what Australia has requested and what Spain has supported, as he defends.

The 21 member states that make up the committee met on July 23 to discuss the issue. UNESCO World Heritage Center, based on a (non-binding) report from ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), an international non-governmental organization associated with UNESCO, Recommended entry due to the level of deterioration after several bouts of bleaching In the last years.

Against this initiative, Australia was able to promote a modification in the hands of Bahrain and 11 other countries, including Spain. That document requested that the property not be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, at least, until a monitoring mission and an updated report on the state of the Great Barrier had been conducted, which would delay the decision until 2023. they refused 10 conservation organizations (including the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Greenpeace Australia, WWF-Australia, Indigenous Youth Climate Network, TheWilderness, Conservation Australia), professionals and well-known faces. «I am more environmentalist, and I belong to environmental groups, but Display galleries bother me a lot because the environment is not static in the interface »The ambassador complains.

Perillo vigorously defends the Spanish position: “Declaring him ‘in danger’ means that there is an ongoing surveillance mission. And what have we agreed to? Let the surveillance mission go. And why have we decided to wait until next year to declare it in danger?” People asking for a surveillance mission haven’t been there for two years; For a pandemic or whatever. and the state [australiano] It says €2 billion was spent on protection measures during that period and it still has no formal oversight over those measures.

From the press department at UNESCO they explain to him climate It is the World Heritage Center and the Natural Sites Advisory Board, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) who are making this assessment. However, they insist on it “There is nothing in the operational guidelines of the agreement that requires a visit to the site to be listed as a risk.”.

The amendment that Australia is clinging to asked to postpone the whole process until 2023, but in the end a consensus was reached (without the need for a vote) sponsored by Norway and backed by Spain so that In February 2022 (Not 2023, as the amendment called for) a Update on the state of the Great Barrier Reef. Based on this analysis, the inclusion of coral reefs in the list of “in danger” will be considered again during the next annual session of UNESCO, which will be held next year in the Russian city of Kazan.

The clash between externalities and environmental transformation

Perello insists that “what matters is not the process, what matters is the outcome”, who does not understand the criticisms that come for two reasons: first, because Countries with which you signed the amendment (Saudi Arabia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Hungary, Mali, Nigeria, Oman, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Uganda); The second, by Content. As for the first, he defends it: “I do not elect committee members. There are 21 countries that take turns, and this year they are”. He settled the matter: “I would like to go with Sweden and Denmark, but they are not members of the committee. I have to agree with those out there.

The blame for the position taken by Spain came not only from conservation organizations and specialists in this field. Also from the Ministry of Environmental Transformation and Demographic Challenge (MITECO). After the uproar escalated, the portfolio of the third vice president, Teresa Ribera, confirmed that she had transferred it “An opinion not in favor of the amendment and in favor of the UNESCO proposal». After that, I consulted sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs climate They argued that “the obligation to vote was already taken before the arrival of the incumbent minister. With José Manuel Alparís taking charge, Spain will continue to fulfill the commitments it made.” The decision, according to the same sources, which “was taken jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Culture, on which MITECO expressed its opinion.”

Ribera herself on July 14 in Madrid met Australia’s environment minister, Susan Lee, who was touring Europe in support of the amendment. “This was the first time in a year and a half, due to the pandemic, that a minister for Australia had left,” explains Pirillo to understand the importance the peripheral country attaches to this issue. Although MITECO asserted that during the meeting they discussed issues of environment, energy and a just transition, not the decision on the wall, the latter addressed: “Minister [Sussan Ley] He did not go to press or ask for anything, but to show that everything they do and that the ICOMOS report was not taken into account », about the diplomat.

But what is the purpose of meeting with a minister who does not have direct powers? “she [Sussan Ley] Request a meeting with the environment. There is confusion there. For example, because Italy has a heritage in agriculture; Australia has a natural heritage in the environment … They come here and meet their counterparts when we have no heritage abroad, but in culture. Abroad are the diplomatic relations on which I depend.”

From the Great Barrier of Australia to the Paseo del Prado in Madrid

On Friday 23, Australia achieved its goal and the commission did not declare the Great Barrier Reef “in danger” with the support of Spain. On Sunday 25, two days later, Spain was able to declare Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro a World Heritage Site with the support of Australia. Does correlation imply causation? In this case yes, asserts Andrés Perelló himself, who attributes it, quite simply and simply, to Diplomacy: «I support what I think I can support, which is that which does not change the circumstances, and I do not do it for free, of course. This is my job. I would never have thought that someone would blame me for doing my job well,” explains the Spanish ambassador.

“This is the daily life of the 194 residents of this city social communication: I support you for my election to the United Nations Security Council, and you support me to go to justice, because we are the only neighbors in the building. Or do you think that Spain can defend the environment and the economy alone in the world, spitting in the face of 163 countries? Diplomacy is that. If we now want to discover the moral characteristics of diplomacy… But does anyone know how this world works? “.

He ended up defending (and explaining) the executing movement: “Now what agreement? Well, I agree with what I can agree to. If Australia asked me to vote for him to pollute, I wouldn’t vote for him, even if he didn’t get my vote. But if that’s something I can accept because the proposal coincided with the one that our embassy in Canberra told us a representative of environmentalists in the country was asking for, and it’s written and signed, because I agree I don’t. Put it on the ‘at risk’ list and demand that Australia accept the terms as if it were on that list. NS If he says yes, I say yes, but in return you vote for me Prado Because I have reasons to do so. Well Well. It is completely transparent. Everything is written.

What annoys the Spanish diplomat the most is that he has been criticized for it Other travelers in this negotiation. Not only was the Declaration of Heritage “in danger” extended by a year (something that had been scientifically proven for some time), but it was also made by Oil kingdoms unlikelyTo reduce fossil fuel consumption. “I’m tired of people living in the shop window, just to look good, whether in politics or in environmental protection. I already have age and I don’t want to go through it “,” he answers when asked about The bad image of Spain. “If nothing is done to the barrier reef, it will give a bad image We have not betrayed Australian environmentalists or the Australian government, who asked to evaluate another term, because it has not yet been evaluated. And we managed, by the way, to agree to Prado. There are people who worry about them Who do you vote with? To look very beautiful and very ecological, not too much What was voted on? In fact. But I’d really rather get in there. Before that, forbid me to go down.”

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