Climate Negotiations 101 with Dr. Christine Fletcher

Being a kind-hearted and a lively spirit, Dr. Christine Fletcher encouraged the young participants of this training series to assimilate themselves with the negotiations that take place during International climate conferences and workshops – including the coffee and corridor talks!

Kicking off the session with an example of how ‘Sustainable Forest Management’ and ‘Sustainable Management of Forest’ could mean differently in the climate negotiation process, Dr. Christine touched upon disagreements on issues such as word usage or phrasing. This can become a matter of concern that can be debated for hours, which for example, could take place throughout the span of a meeting in the Subsidiary Body of Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).The SBSTAis one of the two permanent subsidiary bodies of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

She further explained that words which were not agreed among parties/nations would be bracketed, debated and circulated between the ‘contact group’ and ‘drafting group’. The draft would then be passed on to the main board of SBSTA for review and eventually towards the Conference of Parties (COP). If there were difficulties involved in getting a consensus within the contact and drafting groups, the ‘Friends of the Chair or Presidency’ could be invited to help resolve the pertaining issues. She neatly put this reality in the form of a representation diagram, an adaptation from COP13, where she was part of the Malaysia’s delegation team.

Sharing with us one of those things which we do not learn from books of theories or in school, Dr. Christine shed insights on how most alliances and consensus were made during the informal sessions which included breaks, where a lot of negotiation really happened as there were less formalities to think about. She also encouraged aspiring future negotiators in the room to be involved in-between sessions since they would serve as networking platforms to connect with like-minded people who support similar government agendas and ideologies.

However, negotiating with only what they had and what they knew, negotiators and decision-makers often experience the gap between the latest science and what they had in mind. Dr. Christine ended the session with a fun negotiation exercise, where the youth participants had grouped themselves as alliances to negotiate with other ‘country groups’. As a facilitator herself, Dr. Christine shared few opinions of her own, one of which she believed that there should be more adaptation efforts to reduce the adverse effects of climate change, especially in vulnerable areas. She also adds that adaptation should be balanced with mitigation efforts which acts as precaution prescriptions to limit climate change in the long-term.

Written by Karee

Edited by Varun

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