Thursday, January 16, 2014

Climate diplomacy can build the trust needed to secure our common future

Pa Ousman Jarju in a story at the International Institute for Environment and Development: For the past decade I have travelled to meeting after meeting of the UN climate change talks as a national negotiator for The Gambia, as chair of the Least Developed Countries group, and now as Gambia's Special Climate Envoy. This journey has taught me that diplomacy is the key that can unlock the treasure chest of ambition we need to tackle climate change.

The talks, now in their 20th year, are meant to lead to a new international climate treaty for all nations to adopt in 2015. But they are going nowhere fast. Negotiators are entrenched. These civil servants work to defend national interests at all costs, and so progress towards an effective agreement remains woefully slow. What's lacking is political leadership.

In November 2013, it was Warsaw's turn to host the talks. It was a grim meeting. The atmosphere of suspicion was so severe that I thought we would leave without conclusions. While some nations backtracked on their commitments to reduce emissions or provide poorer countries with finance, other nations' efforts to reduce emissions went unacknowledged. Clearly so fractured an environment does not catalyse compromise – the necessary foundation of any UN agreement.

In a speech I gave in Warsaw's national football stadium, I explained that the talks can only succeed if there is trust between developed and developing countries. Trust – plain and simple. Sadly, any news headlines about the Warsaw talks that mentioned trust preceded the word with "lack of", "mis" and "dis". Despite the trials of Warsaw, I continue to believe that trust can end the stalemate. Building it however requires engagement on a political level – and that's where climate diplomacy comes in.

While negotiations are an attempt to reconcile conflicting positions into an agreeable outcome, diplomacy is the art of moving the political boundaries that define what outcomes are possible. Climate diplomacy then is the art of influencing what is politically possible....

No comments: