By: Philip Wolfe
Let’s say you run a small, mercury-relevant NGO in Washington, DC, and you want to come to the final round of the mercury treaty negotiations at INC5. Let’s also assume you’re bootstrapping here, no big splurges. How much is it going to cost you?
Flight: 700-1100CHF for a roundtrip ticket if you book in advance and are flexible with timing and connections (FareCompare).
Hotel: Single or double occupancy mid-range rooms run 140-240CHF/night (wikitravel).
Getting Around: Free access to public transport comes with a hotel stay, and free public transport is available from the Geneva airport to the hotel. However, with late nights in contact groups, you might need to call a taxi in the evening. Expect to pay 12-20CHF per trip if you are staying in a central location. (numbeo).
Breakfast: Best-case scenario: it’s included with your hotel room. Next best case, you can stop at the Coop or Manor. An apple, a croissant, and a yogurt will run you about 3,50CHF. Add a coffee for another 2CHF. Want a real breakfast? It’ll run you 10,50-16,50CHF on a budget. (lonelyplanet)
Lunch: A medium plate at the convention center is 7CHF (add a side for 3CHF), or expect to pay 15-20CHF at a restaurant or café at places like Café des Art’s or Espresso club (wikitravel). Add another 2-3CHF for a soda or juice. You’ll want another coffee for the afternoon meetings; tack on another 2CHF.
Dinner: A main course, a glass of juice, and a side salad is about 32CHF at Café du Soleil. Brasserie Bagatelle is about 40CHF for a dinner of tartar with fries and a soda, if reviews are to be believed. Fondu at the Bains de Paquis and a drink will run about 27CHF. Add in a dessert or an appetizer and your looking at 50-60CHF, easily.
Snack: It’s a long day, and you’ll be hungry either in meeting or when you get back to your hotel. Add 3CHF a day for a snack of fruit and a granola bar. Add a bottle of water and make it 5CHF.
On a tight budget, average daily basic living expenses will be around 80CHF. Anything unexpected happens (and don’t forget about ATM fees!), and you’re looking at 110-130CHF minimum daily expenses. If you need to grab a train or want to visit a museum the cost only goes up from there.
TOTAL BUDGET: 3100CHF or $3300 USD (range 2400 – 3900 CHF) per single occupancy person.
Even on a tight budget it is not going to be a cheap trip, and these big costs have big implications. First, NGOs attending the negotiations will have a minimum amount of funding. Second, NGOs attending the negotiations will be heavily invested in an issue. What does this mean for minority groups, especially those groups that are disadvantaged? Also, does the amount of investment required to come to a negotiation lead to an NGO contingency dominated by the most extreme viewpoints? How can we ensure equity and credibility in this process?