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Complex Subject Tactful Negotiators

Parties to the UNFCCC have recognized the importance of involving women and men equally in UNFCCC processes and in the development and implementation of national climate policies that are gender-responsive by establishing a dedicated agenda item under the Convention addressing issues of gender and climate change and by including overarching text in the Paris Agreement.

Under the Paris Agreement  parties acknowledge that as climate change is a common concern of humankind: “Parties should when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity".

At COP 22 and SBI 45 in Marrakech, Parties continued their consideration of issues under the Gender and Climate Change agenda item (SBI Agenda Item 16 / COP Agenda item 15). One of the activities is to conceptualize and develop a text acceptable by all parties committing themselves to implementation of the gender agenda. The processes follow a delicate procedure guided by documented rules, regulations and principles that all delegates must adhere to.  The negotiation process! The session has 2 chairs and supported extensively by a secretariat.

One of the procedures allowed in the negotiation process is the ‘informal- informal’  consultations among delegates from a single party, block of parties or universe of parties.

Since the 7th Nov 2016, the SBI agenda 16 ‘group’ has been meeting 2 to 3 times in a day and sometimes late evening on the agenda.  The secretariat working has been working all round the clock to make edits and prepare paperwork for the next series of meetings.  One striking thing in the consultations and deliberation by state parties on this agenda is the intensity and frequency of discussions. The discussions collate around principles such as ‘funding’ or ‘response’, or ‘assisting’ among others. These words may sound elementary and easy to agree to but that is not always the case. State parties organize themselves into blocks (political, social or economic blocks) to critique scope and content in terms of intention and ultimate meaning of the texts and phrases included in the draft decisions. This is because each word, phrase or principle is equal to a commitment to state parties to abide by once adopted in the official document.

A critical gear

The most important agent in the negotiation process is the facilitator/ chair or co-chair/facilitator.  How they navigate the discussions, their patience, diplomacy, respect, attention to detail, allows and engages in consultations,  promote dialogues, opens to listen to each party or delegate, all under the watch of observers.  Kenya  had Comm Winfred Lichuma the chairperson of the National Gender and Equality Commission as a co-chair and a co facilitator of the sessions on agenda 16.  The other chair/facilitator is Mr. Martin Hession from Europen Union.

On 10th November 2016 night,  the chairs led the state parties to agree on a ‘text’ to the agenda but still allowing small amounts of uncleaned text. These were editorial clean ups and a few more on matter of clarity. The chairs allowed parties to consult with their delegates and missions and meet the following day 11th Nov 2016 at Room 10 of the COP 22. Chair

Reopening the matter

At exactly noon, state parties took their seats and the meeting begun on a promising note. All parties agreeing that the text as it were the previous night is acceptable. On account of 1 to 3, parties re-opened the matter and initiated new negotiations and proposal.  Certainly no body expected such to happen!

Tactful negotiations

The tactful negotiator-facilitator allowed moments of consultations and lobbying not exceeding 5 minutes and pleading with parties to keep to their promise  namely, contain themselves to already agreed text as of 10th Nov 2016. At 1p.m, the facilitator allowed parties to issue their last submissions.

And on account of 3, an agreed text was approved with a loud of applause and smiling faces. Jubilations followed with announcement that SBI 45 has an agreed text on decisions to agenda item 16, gender and climate change!



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