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Preparing for COP-6

Joyeeta Gupta and Angela Churie Kallhauge compare two capacity building initiatives, for Africa and for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Joyeeta Gupta is a senior researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Angela Churie Kallhauge is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Regional Planning in the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

The climate change negotiations are proceeding with such rapidity that most developing countries are getting ‘papered-out’, they face negotiation fatigue and their coping capacity is seriously strained.

Even in the early days, it was evident that the developing country negotiators were seriously handicapped, as amply demonstrated in the books listed on the next page. The run up to the Kyoto negotiations and the period thereafter has witnessed a proliferation of scientific research, voluminous Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) documents, almost continuous climate change meetings, multiple simultaneous negotiations in formal and informal meetings and round-the-clock sessions. The complexity of the negotiations even tired the European Union negotiators.

In many ways, the gap in knowledge between the negotiators from the powerful countries of the industrialized world and that of the developing countries, in general, is growing. The human resources the latter can devote to climate change remain limited, while those in the developed countries have expanded considerably.

In response to the growing negotiation stress in the developing countries and calls for support, two projects have been developed by the Climate Change Knowledge Network. the Network has members from 14 research institutes in developed and developing countries.

The first project was conducted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Canada, with financial support from Norway and Canada, directed towards enhancing negotiating capacity in Africa.

The second project was initiated by the Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas, based in the United States. This focused on the negotiating capacity of negotiators from Latin America and the Caribbean. This latter project had financial support from the United States Agency for International Development, the Wallace Global Foundation and the Corporacion Andina de Fomento.

The Institute for Environmental Studies in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, has been actively involved in both projects.

The dynamics of the two projects led to different types of training workshops being adopted, but in many ways lessons can be learnt from both projects.

The Africa Project

The Africa Project was initiated following a request by the Chair of the African Group at COP-4 in Buenos Aires in 1998. In preparing for the training workshop, the African Group was consulted continuously in the definition of the work programme and identification of key participants and resource people.

A preparatory meeting was held in Bonn during the last Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice meeting to ascertain and determine the precise needs of the participants and the kinds of information needed and to finalize the agenda for the training workshop. The Africa workshop was hosted by ENDA-Tiers Monde, who were very active in the process, in Dakar, Senegal between the 17th and the 21st July 2000.

The workshop had five unique features. It combined substance with training; it included speakers originating primarily from Africa or other developing countries; it focused on improving the negotiation skills of negotiators; and the participants were from anglophone and francophone African countries. Finally, the sessions devoted to developing an African position were closed sessions where neither donors, foreign nationals, nor African non-governmental organizations and experts were allowed, although all were available for consultation.

The Dakar workshop began with an introduction to, and identification of, the key needs and expectations of the negotiators present. The latter can be clustered as follows – a common understanding of the key concerns of Africa, the need to acquire negotiation skills, and a better understanding of the issues.

To set the stage for the discussions, a detailed presentation on the common interests that potentially unite Africa was presented by Papa Cham of Gambia. This provoked responses regarding the internal differences in Africa. The key elements for the next set of climate change negotiations to be held in November 2000 were also outlined by a key negotiator. An analysis of the negotiating techniques of the developing countries during the past ten years of climate change negotiations followed. The critical assessment was acknowledged as fairly accurate by the negotiators, who then illustrated through their questions some of the points made.

© 2000 Lawrence Moore

This was followed by a comprehensive lecture on negotiation theory that explained all the steps in preparing for multilateral negotiations, combined with anecdotes from trade negotiations. This lecture focused on the tools that can be used to prepare for negotiations. In response, the negotiators then focused on the constraints faced in preparing for negotiations, highlighting lack of resources and limited capacities to cope.

The assignment for the following morning was to assist the negotiators to operationalize the techniques and theories that were imparted to them in the morning. This mock United Nations negotiation session was chaired by the former chair of the G-77 from Guyana, Alison Drayton. The session was analysed by the resource people present, leading to discussions on negotiating techniques, and traps and tips in relation to drafting.

The next session focused on the range of interests of the different stakeholders in the negotiation process and, in particular, examined the internal politics and challenges of the G-77. There was an elaborate discussion of the Clean Development Mechanism in the context of other issues in the regime. This was followed by an overview of the new IPCC reports presented by the co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III, Ogunlade Davidson. Ian Fry of Tuvalu elaborated on the debate on sinks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The negotiators were provided an afternoon to prepare in-camera their own negotiating position.

The following morning, there was a second negotiating exercise with actual negotiating texts for the Sixth Conference of the Parties. This gave the participants a second chance to try and improve on their negotiating skills. This was followed by a discussion of the compliance mechanisms, the Global Environment Facility, financial and administrative aspects of United Nations negotiations in general, and interlinkages with other conventions and protocols, specifically the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The meeting ended with another closed session for the African negotiators and an evaluation of the entire process.

At the end of the workshop, it was decided that such training should become structural and regular. That is, such types of ‘learning by doing’ exercises should replace thead hoc workshops that are usually undertaken since one-time efforts are inadequate for the purpose of sustained capacity building especially given that the curricula of many African universities do not include at the present, negotiation theory and practice.

The Latin America and Caribbean project

The Latin America and Caribbean Project was initiated as a result of some of the concerns of the negotiators from this region, that although they have many ideas about how the negotiations can be improved, they wanted to understand the processes by which they could influence the actual negotiations. The key point made was that countries are being sucked into a wide variety of negotiations that they are ill-prepared to negotiate and implement.

This led to a three-day workshop in Miami in the United States to be followed by the preparation of some reference material for negotiators.

In contrast with the Dakar workshop, this workshop focused only on technique and tactics. There was no attempt to provide substantive input to the participants, although participants did indicate that they would benefit from such exchanges.

The trainers included Brook Boyer of the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan, Raymond Saner from the Centre for Socio-Economic Development in Geneva, Switzerland and co-author Joyeeta Gupta.

The workshop began with an analysis of the key problems faced by developing countries in the negotiating process on climate change. This was followed by an analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as perceived by the participating Latin American and Caribbean negotiators. Once the diagnosis of the issues were presented, discussed, confirmed and/or rejected, the focus of the meeting was how to enhance the skills of the participants especially in relation to areas perceived as their weaknesses and in relation to the threats.

The participants were then introduced to the issue of conference diplomacy and its purpose. The complexity of the relationships in plurilateral and multilateral negotiations were then elaborated and the formal and informal processes and bodies in the climate negotiations and their role and function were discussed.

The relationship between the formal and the informal was discussed as well as how negotiators can influence the formal via the informal. This was followed by an analytical presentation on the rules of procedure, that is, duties of the secretariat, rights of the representatives, procedural motions and points of order, voting arrangements, the role of the Conference Chair and the President in the climate regime and the importance of mastering these rules prior to the negotiation process. The political and diplomatic dimension of the rules of procedure as well as discussion of why there is such slow progress in this area was extensively discussed.

The issue of consensus was covered in terms of its theoretical and practical dimensions; on what consensus is and how it is reached, including an analysis of why countries do not always want to object, even though they don’t agree with the consensus ruling as was the case during the final hours of the Kyoto negotiations in 1997. This led to an elaboration of all the different conference documents and their nomenclature and how these documents influence the negotiating process.

Finally, an extensive discussion of the coalitions in the regime and their pros and cons were debated upon. There was an interesting exercise to demonstrate the difficulties facing conference chairs, based on an actual intervention made by New Zealand at Kyoto in 1997. Another exercise focused on a negotiating game in which depending on the choices made, groups could win or lose. This was to illustrate the problem of collective choice when there is limited information and only two choices, either yes or no. That is, the issue of cooperation in a social dilemma problem.

The third session in this workshop consisted of a crash course on negotiating techniques interspersed with negotiating exercises first of a bilateral and then of a multilateral nature. There were exercises on integrative and distributive bargaining which were undertaken on a one-on-one basis. Thus each participant was engaged in developing his or her negotiation skills vis a vis the other participants. Very deliberately, the cases chosen here were not climate change related. Instead they were focused on a range of issues and a range of circumstances.

Comparative analysis

Both workshops were informative and stimulating and, judging by the evaluation of the participants, appeared to have a high degree of usefulness. However, they took different paths to achieve similar goals. The key lessons from the workshops can be summed up as follows:

First, it is important to undertake a week-long workshop, especially when the focus is on building negotiation skills. The five-day workshop in Dakar allowed the negotiators a chance to learn to know each other, build trust, consolidate relationships and reflect on their performance both as individual negotiators and as a group. They also witnessed how skilful and knowledgeable many of their own colleagues from other African countries are and were able to practice their skills both in front of the resource people as well as in the privacy of their own negotiating groups.

The consultations between the organizers and the African group in planning the project provided a sound foundation for the workshop as the participants arrived knowing what to expect and prepared for open and frank discussions.

Second, the Dakar workshop demonstrated through the exercises the vital importance of good and thorough preparation prior to the negotiations. It was evident that some of the negotiators were more conversant with the European Union, the United States and the Opec (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) negotiating positions than their own as they have tended in practice to react more to others’ positions and proposals. The need to consult internally and to harness available resources within the group and from national and international experts and non-governmental organizations in an optimum manner was evident from the exercises.

Third, there is a need to understand the premise of negotiations. Thus, it is vital that there be a detailed discussion of what the rules of procedure are in general negotiations and in the climate change negotiations in particular and the theory behind these rules of procedure (as was done in Miami). However, if it could be combined effectively with experiences from the negotiating floor, as was the approach in Dakar, the discussion would be more complete.

Fourth, it is vital to explain the nomenclature of United Nations documents in general and the climate change documents in particular.

Fifth, it is critical to discuss the practical and theoretical aspects of consensus building and how it differs from unanimity. The Miami workshop provided detailed theoretical information on consensus. This was discussed more from practical experience in Dakar, and was also demonstrated through the negotiating exercises on real documents from the climate negotiations.

Sixth, negotiation techniques need to be optimized. While the Dakar workshop focused on how the negotiator can prepare for the negotiations, the Miami workshop covered a more sophisticated analysis of different negotiating techniques and how to move the negotiations towards win-win from win-lose situations.

Seventh, the need for national positions, common regional positions, a negotiated G-77 position as well as coalition building across blocs was demonstrated in both meetings.

Eighth, in addition to process related concerns, there are substantive concerns. Both groups of participants voiced essentially two groups of concerns. The first relates to the depth of understanding of the issues to allow for a thorough theoretical appreciation of the different aspects as well as an understanding of the issues in relation to their country. The second relates to the issue of how diverging interests within their regional groups can be combined into a strong negotiating position. The Dakar workshop attempted the former, but neither really addressed the latter issue due to the limited time. Another key missing element was training in drafting text, although the issue was touched on briefly in both workshops.

An important strong point of both workshops was that the selection of the trainers and resource people was undertaken with considerable care. The Dakar workshop had trainers that mostly originated from Africa or other developing countries. The Miami workshop had trainers from the North, but mostly people who are not involved directly in the climate change negotiations or are observing the process. In many ways, this was refreshing in contrast to earlier workshops where the speakers were not necessarily sensitive to the views and situation of the negotiators being addressed.

At the Dakar workshop, there were two closed workshops for the negotiators alone, but they could if they so chose refer to the resource people. This afforded them the much needed time to translate the skills acquired to develop a common position in privacy, especially given the fact that they have limited resources.

In the Dakar workshop, there were two long negotiating exercises based on existing negotiating drafts to demonstrate negotiating traps, the way to draft text, the way to oppose the positions, the way to approach the chair, and so on. These exercises demonstrated the increasing negotiation stress among developing country negotiators and the need for them to practice negotiating skills before the real negotiations.

It would perhaps be appropriate to conclude with a quotation from Confucius cited by Brook Boyer, “I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand.”

Further information

Joyeeta Gupta, Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universteit, De Boelelaan 1115, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Fax: +31-20-4449553. Email:

Angela Churie Kallhauge, Department of Regional Planning, Royal Institute of Technology, Fiskartorpsvagen 15 A, S-10044 Stockholm, Sweden. Fax: +46-8-7906761. Email:

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