Quiet Moments at the UN CSD

NEW YORK, New York — I ran into Ron Sawyer in the hallway near the UN’s mini-cafe in the lower hallways outside the General Assembly. Ron runs EcoSan in Tepotzlan, Mexico. Our Wilson Center water working group spent two days on the ground viewing his “dry sanitation” project, an innovative approach to improving the traditional outhouse. (Sanitation, even though an equal part of the water equation, receives much less coverage in water and health discussions.)

Ron and I popped into an NGO stakeholders meeting to get a pulse on the progress.

We couldn’t have entered at a more powerful moment, a poignant metaphor of the frustration and feeling of molasses-like progress. As we stood in the back, one member reminded her colleagues that their week’s worth of work had to be distilled into a 90-second statement. That left something like 15 seconds to articulate each major issue. The vacuum, as optimism slipped out under the door in stunned silence, left the group staring into space.

As a radio moment, the pregnant pauses would have been powerful. I wish I knew more of the context and had brought my microphone.

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