Friday, August 20, 2010

Sitting at the negotiations table; training for Pacific Islanders

Negotiating an international agreement with over 180 countries during a two week period in the one venue is like entering a new world.  To help our Pacific countries negotiate at this level, a one day negotiations skills training course took place in Nadi, Fiji.  So when the Pacific takes to the world stage at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in October, they will be better prepared.

Experienced Tuvalu negotiator, Mr. Ian Fry, has facilitated negotiations training for well over a decade in the Pacific.  This week he worked with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Environmental Defender’s Office (Sydney) to train Pacific government delegates.

“I’ve done workshops in the Pacific region for a lot of Pacific Island countries and am gratified to see people coming out of their shells,” said Fry. 

“Once they know the game that is part of negotiations they come out of their shells and then are quite active in the negotiations, you can see the improvements in people through different meetings”.

The training activities help people become good negotiators.  The one day session teaches participants how to read text.  A mock plenary session is staged as part of the training to provide practise in making country statements in an easy to understand manner.  The practical sessions help participants to listen to what countries are saying.  This is critical in negotiating an outcome that would be accepted at the international level.  Participants therefore have to think about words and how to negotiate them and also to recognise how certain phrases are used, or misused to achieve certain outcomes.

For this particular training, the participants were given different roles and fictitious countries to represent.  There were delegates from countries such as “Swidden”,” Porceleina”, “Germaland” and “Portagoal", and while the negotiation training is a serious issue, humour was also a part of the training.

“It was excellent group, they really got engaged in the discussions and really took on their roles, I was very impressed.   A good negotiator is one who can be serious but can also find humour to build bridges with other countries to find a common ground, that’s all part of the business.”
For Seni Nabou of Greenpeace Pacific, taking part in the negotiations training was an enjoyable experience.  Nabou has attended the International negotiation meetings in the past and will be going to Nagoya, Japan in October -

“It was fun for me because I could throw back some of the things that I hear countries say and do at the Conference of the Parties negotiations, I liked it yeah!”

Touasi Tiwok of Vanuatu found the training very helpful, she attended the conference in Bonn, Germany in 2008 and will be going to Nagoya, Japan for her second Conference of the parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“The training was very real in terms of the practical side of it we were given an opportunity to actually sit in what you call working groups, go through the deliberations and look at the text and do all the nitty gritty parts of negotiations,” said Tiwok.  

“It helped us as to what sort of things to look for and how important it is for us to have a national position and how to use the pacific statements we have and to link that country to our statement.”

The training was funded by the EU-MEA Capacity Building Project and was held on day three of the Pacific Regional CBD COP19 Preparatory Meeting in Nadi, Fiji.

Talking the talk: Quick pointers
  • 10th Conference of the Parties for the Convention on Biological Diversity, written in any different order is often referred to CBD COP10, or COP10 CBD.
  • Conference of the Parties is shortened to COP or COP's
  • Convention on Biological Diversity is often shortened to CBD
  • MEA is short for Multilateral Environment Agreements which are international agreements on the environment

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