Fiona Harvey Cancun – The water’s lovely but there’s no one in it

The gorgeous grounds of the Moon Palace resort in Cancun are chock full of people. Hurrying from one meeting room to another, sitting on the grass with laptops, queuing for soft drinks or munching on sandwiches in the shade of palm trees, taking shelter in the airconditioned lobby – the hotel can never have seen so many thousands of people at one time.

Most of these people are not residents – only the delegations themselves staying here, owing to security concerns – but participants who have travelled miles to get here each day. To get to the conference centre entrance takes half an hour to an hour from most of the hotels in Cancun, which itself is effectively a long strip of beach hotels stretching for tens of miles down the coast. Then participants have to pass security and take another half hour ride on a special shuttle bus to get to the Moon Palace, where the actual negotiations are going on. As some of the important side meetings are taking place at far distant hotels, many people seem to be spending most of their time at this conference in transit.

For the media there is an added delight to the logistics – the press conference rooms where the briefings take place are located a brisk 20-minute walk or another shuttle bus ride away from the press centre itself.

But while all of these places are crammed with people, one part of the Moon Palace complex is conspicuously empty. The beautiful swimming pools dotted around the resort have no one in them, morn to night. And the white sandy beach which abuts on one side is similarly deserted.

Partly, this is because the delegates, stuck in endless negotiating sessions stretching long into the evening, and holding frantic side meetings at other times, have precious few spare minutes to disport themselves on water slides.

But it is also because many of the delegations are under strict instructions to use none of these attractive leisure facilities during their stay – for fear a photographer will snap them in their swimsuits. The headlines would be just too hard to bear.