Today IIASA staged a Climate Change Negotiation Simulation as part of our YSSP. YSSP participants we assigned a country to represent one of: Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Grenada, India, Japan, Russian Federation, Sweden, Sudan, UK, USA, Australia, Poland, Hungary etc etc. Basically a mixture og G8, G20 and G77 countries.
My initial reason for taking part was to experience a negotiation situation as I am always frustrated by the reports in the newspapers of failure following these negotiations. I can now understand why. We were each assigned a country, or given NGO status to observe the proceedings. I was assigned Australia, an environmental activist of sorts that was campaigning for tough emissions targets and to introduce the concept of "climate change refugees". My simulation tip notes featured some countries I should negotiate with and some that needed more persuasion. I was told to criticise African countries (which goes against my personal feelings) and push for developing countries to accept that they are not exempt from the guilt just because they are still growing economically.
Before the official negotiations began we played a simple negotiaton game where each person is given five pieces of paper in different colours, you have to negotiate to get 5 pieces of the same colour. It was hilarious as some people walked around talking your way into a colour while others just sat and waited for people to come to them. Quite interesting to try.
Throughout the negotiation process we discovered other's country mandates, game instructions and a few hidden agendas. Ariel as game master observed the proceedings and pushed forward negotiations with ad-hoc instructions for countries to carry out. Examples of these were criticising the chair for bias, not following due process, changing stance mid negotiation, stage a walk out, start forming a coalition. It made the process quite baffling at times.
There are few keys thing I have learnt from the experience. When negotiating, there must be a clear language for all parties, such as what emissions means vs emissions intensities, what does respected mean etc. I also learnt that one needs negotiators with technical know-how to negotiate, not political figures that do not understand the implications of the various proposals tabled for discussion.