Soft on the People; Hard on the Facts!

Having recently completed Jeff Weiss’ Negotiations course at Tuck (with multiple exercises on multi-party negotiation, as well as side negotiations), I find myself paying extra attention to how the COP18 delegates discuss their interests and try to create options.

The goal is to align all the various countries’ diverse incentives, and unravel the economic challenges, while saving the planet in the process.

One example of this showed itself today at a special event hosted by the co-chairs of ADP (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action). The goal of this session was focused on the co-chairs sharing of ideas and engaging in a round table discussion on a) “the contours of the 2015 agreement (Workstream 1)” and b) “ways to bridge the ambition gap in order to hold the increase in the global average temperature below 2 °C or 1.5 °C (Workstream 2).” See here for more information.

At the end of the presentations, there was a unique opportunity where the NGOs that were attending the session as “Observers” received priority over the official delegates to ask questions. Some also shared information on their organization’s stance regarding the presented materials. This resembles an exercise we had done in our negotiation class where by sharing interests (at the right time and in the right way), resulted in better solutions being reached.

One of the main discussions was around the “Top-Down” versus “Bottom-Up” approaches. The “Bottom –Up” approach suggests not having a cookie cutter model for all governments to abide by and instead having each country come up with their own pledges to cut emissions. Conversely, the “Top-Down” approach suggests a specific set of rules to be places and all countries to abide by them (this has proven to be difficult due to the vast diversity in economies, culture, GDP, basic needs, etc amongst the negotiating countries).

On this topic, the representative from CAN (Climate Action Network) after noting that “nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon” very clearly shared her organization’s stance on the “Top-Down” vs. “Bottom Up” approach and their underlying reasons. CAN “is a worldwide network of over 700 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in over 90 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.”

Many other observers also shared their opinions and stances quite clearly and eloquently, to which the moderator commented that if all negotiators could be this clear and quick on sharing their interests, resolution would not be far off!

Below is a picture of the main banner in various meeting rooms. It notes “Count Me In” both in English and Arabic.


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