UNITAR workshopen i FN

2009-05-11

– två dagar på temat miljöförhandlingar

The first day, Dr. Colleen Thouez, Head of the UNITAR New York Office, opened the workshop by thanking the Olof Palme Memorial Fund and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden for the support and excellent cooperation. She highlighted the demand for negotiation training among UN diplomats, in particular from developing and least developed countries, and emphasized the role that negotiators from small countries can play: In 1988, it was the small country of Malta, which introduced the concept of "common concern for human mankind" on the global floor, by introducing a resolution on the "Common heritage of mankind" into the General Assembly. This resolution laid the ground on which the Framework Convention on Climate Change came into being in the aftermath of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

In the opening session of the workshop, Ambassador Per Örnéus of the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations stressed the legacy of Olof Palme in the environmental arena, having been the architect of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. He also emphasized that climate change is among the worst threats of our time, and that it requires diplomats to think outside the box of traditional diplomacy, since it is not "possible to negotiate with nature". He welcomed the initiative of UNITAR and the Olof Palme Memorial Fund to dedicate this negotiation skills workshop to environmental negotiations.

In the first thematic session, the co-facilitators introduced participants to the mutual gains approach to negotiations. Participants were sensitized to the difference between "positions" (what you want) and "interests" (why you want it) through a short icebreaker exercise. The exercise revealed the strong focus on negotiating parties' "positions", which is common in negotiations, instead of focusing on the underlying interests. Focusing on interests contributes to mutually satisfying negotiation outcomes, as the facilitators highlighted. In the second part of the thematic introduction, Ms. van der Wansem outlined the key principles of mutual gain negotiations: Aiming for mutually satisfying outcomes or win-win-situations, and working towards agreements that are sustainable and can be implemented, while maintaining good relations with the other negotiating party for cooperation in the long run. The facilitators also emphasized the importance of preparing adequately for negotiations. A negotiation preparation worksheet was distributed to participants as technical support in preparing for negotiations.

Ms. van der Wansem outlined and elaborated on the four main steps in mutual gain negotiations: prepare for negotiations, create value, distribute value, and follow-through. In session II, Prof. Moomaw addressed particularities of environmental negotiations in his presentation on "Environment and the New Diplomacy". According to Prof. Moomaw, the concept of sustainable development requires new approaches to diplomacy, as distinct to what he outlined as "traditional diplomacy" (incl. issues of war and peace, national boundaries, trade, etc.). He considered the main goals for "new diplomacy" to "protect resources and values that are shared among nations and to optimize human well being rather than just economic growth". ‘New diplomacy' deals with issues such as human rights, labor, environment and natural resources, fair trade, or waste. All these areas require action across national borders, therefore challenging the basic notions of the traditional diplomacy, in particular the concept of territoriality and national sovereignty. The large number of multilateral environmental agreements has become an important element of what he called the ‘new diplomacy'. This body of international law is highly sophisticated in terms of legal provisions, but very often lacks effective implementation.

Session III offered participants the opportunity to train their skills and apply the concepts presented in previous sessions in a real-life simulation. The chosen case study focused on negotiations towards an international instrument to address the sustainable management and conservation of forests. The real case happened in 2007, when a contact group was established prior to of the 7th UN Forum on Forests to prepare a proposal for submission to all Member States at the Forum. Participants were briefed that negotiations were expected to focus on the institutional framework, including 1) the questions of legally binding vs. non-legally binding nature of a future agreement, 2) whether to include quantitative targets in the agreement, and 3) the issue of certification. Participants were divided into nine roles, corresponding to the actors involved in the real negotiations (Brazil, Cameroon, China, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Japan, Netherlands, Switzerland and US), provided with specific confidential instructions, given time to prepare for the negotiation, and finally conducted the simulated negotiations for a duration of two hours to discuss three proposals at hand.

The debriefing discussion that concluded the simulation exercise raised a number of questions for discussion with regards to the conduct of the negotiations and its efficiency, including:
- Was agreement reached (if yes, how? By consensus?), and is the outcome considered to be
realistic?
- Did participants feel well prepared? If not, why?
- Was the concept of mutual gains negotiations applied? If not, what was the obstacle?
- How was value created, in the form of alternative options, creative generation of proposals etc.?
– What was the role of the chair?

The debriefing revealed that it was much easier to reach mutually satisfying outcomes when negotiations focused on interests, and when these interests and goals of all parties were clearly stated. This, in general, requires negotiators and the chair to ask many questions. It was also highlighted that the mutual gains approach does not come automatically, but needs a certain kind of cooperative communication to be established. In a nutshell, "the mutual gains approach provides an effective strategy for meeting your own needs in a conflict situation with others while still maintaining a positive relationship, a good reputation as fair and trustworthy, and provides opportunities for positive collaboration in the future", as the facilitator defined it.

The second day focused entirely on climate change (session IV). Prof. Moomaw introduced participants into the scientific basis that laid the ground for current climate change negotiations. The presentation familiarized participants with the scientific scenarios, emphasizing that the most likely scientific scenarios with regards to temperature increase require more decisive action than the options currently under consideration: To achieve equilibrium between CO2 emissions and CO2 net removals, a 80% emission reduction is needed by 2050. Additional sequestration of CO2 will lead to a further decrease in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. According to Moomaw, technology is already available to meet these targets, by combining greater efficiency; use of alternative fuels; use of renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, geothermal resources, ocean energy and nuclear power; and carbon dioxide capture and storage. Following Mr. Moomaw's presentation, Mr. Chad Carpenter (UNDP) introduced participants into the current negotiation process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol. In December 2007, the Bali Road Map laid out a two track negotiation approach to finalize an agreement on the future climate change regime by end of 2009, when governments will meet in Copenhagen for the 15th Conference of States Parties to the UNFCCC. Preparatory meetings earlier this year in Bonn and two more in June and August focus on the Convention process (long-term cooperative action) on the one hand and the Kyoto protocol process (emission reduction targets) on the other. Mr. Carpenter indicated that it remains to be seen whether and how the two tracks will come together in the course of the negotiations, what form a new agreement may take (entirely new agreement, new protocol, etc.), and what role developing countries will play in the negotiations. He also outlined the four elements of the Bali Road Map, which are mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and finance. Talking from his experience as a former negotiator for a large developing country, Mr. Imran Habib Ahmed (DESA) shared his insights into negotiation dynamics. Among the points he outlined as particular challenges for developing countries in the negotiations, the following were mentioned:
-The dynamics at play within delegations, where coordination is often lacking between governments ministries;
- The lack of capacity of small delegations to follow all negotiations, due to the increasing number of parallel meetings;
- The disconnect in climate change negotiations between the different actor levels (from the affected African farmer up to the negotiator at the international conferences…);
- The challenge to reconcile negotiation positions with the ‘home front', and to identify this dynamic in the statements and attitudes of counterparts;

However, he emphasized the influence individual negotiators can have on the negotiation process when taking a proactive approach. He also stressed the need for developing countries to prepare options in case developed country will not assume leadership in the process due to potential failure to agree on reduction commitments.

The thematic introduction on climate change was followed by a simulation exercise on climate change-related negotiations in the United Nations General Assembly. Along a similar set-up as in the first simulation, participants received instructions to consult as sub-groups (Larger Developing Countries, Least Developed Countries, Small Island States, OPEC) within the broader "G77 and China" on a joint proposal with regards to the annual GA resolution on Climate Change. In his concluding remarks (Session V), Prof. Moomaw questioned whether the challenge of climate change is appropriately addressed if the international treaty dealing with is framed as a ‘pollution agreement'. In his view, negotiators need to frame any future treaty as an "energy development" treaty, one which aims to provide energy through low-carbon energy services on an equitable basis, and which frames the needs in terms of a financing question (how to generate resources?), not a funding question (who pays?).