Improving climate negotiation skills for African officials

A regional training workshop run by IIED and ENDA Energie is supporting African climate negotiators to build their skills ahead of the 2023 UN climate change conference.

News, 07 November 2023
Large group of people posing for the camera.

Participants at the Africa training workshop for climate negotiators in Senegal (Photo: copyright Enda Energie)

In May 2023, IIED and ENDA Energie held a regional training workshop for 40 African climate negotiators from least developed countries (LDCs) in Senegal. Over 40 participants attended, including 18 from nine English-speaking countries and 26 from 13 French-speaking countries.

The regional workshops have been successfully running since 2005. They aim to equip negotiators new to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process with the necessary skills to take part effectively in international climate talks and to level the playing field for their engagement.

Importantly, the workshops are demand driven and have been requested by the LDCs themselves. New women negotiators are particularly encouraged to take part, to promote women’s equal participation at climate negotiations.

What makes the workshops so successful?

The key to success is the in-depth knowledge and experience of the organisers and facilitators. They are experienced negotiators from the region who understand the main issues at stake and crucially lend credibility to the proceedings. The programme also builds on the strength and knowledge of previous workshop participants, who are now themselves trained negotiators. 

Two back-to-back two-day workshops were held in Senegal: one workshop each for the English-speaking and French-speaking participants, with a bridging day in between. Agenda items covered current topics under discussion in the negotiations (mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, the Global Stocktake, climate finance, and reporting under the enhanced transparency framework). 

Day 1 began with an overview of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, before preparing participants for the formality of the negotiations and how to make an intervention. Day 2 allowed negotiators to put their learning into practice with mock negotiations. These were designed to be as realistic as possible: in reality, negotiators have to respond very quickly to really complex and technical statements.

The need for more training (and more funding)

At the end of day 1 of each workshop, it was inspiring to see how participants used a collaborative approach to prepare for the next day, working through dinner to make the most of their available time. A short film by ENDA Energie presented highlights from the regional training workshop and feedback clearly showed that participants found the training workshops highly important and useful:

My recommendation is that we have more training engagements of this nature to enable us the young/new negotiators to master the skills required for successful negotiations.

Les présentations sont compréhensibles mais pour les prochaines fois, il faut plus de jours (une semaine au moins) par groupe de formation. [The presentations are understandable but for the next time, more days (one week at least) are needed per training group].

The workshop is very fruitful. However, I would appreciate if it was four days because there is a lot of content to cover. 

The presentations were clear and precise. Since it includes past experience it [is] very, very beneficial to me.

Looking to the future

Several of the workshop delegates were also part of the programme's new cohort of supported negotiators, who attended the UNFCCC Bonn negotiations in June earlier this year

There is high demand for the ongoing capacity-building programme and regional training workshops will continue to be supported. Organisers held another regional training workshop for the Asia and Pacific region in Nepal, September 2023. The programme is currently backed by the German government’s International Climate Initiative – but more finance is urgently needed. 

For anyone interested in helping continue to support new LDC negotiators, funding is being sought for the regional training workshops in 2024 – to continue to provide new negotiators with the essential skills and confidence they need to participate effectively in international climate talks.

With thanks to Laura Jenks, senior project manager in IIED's Climate Change Group, for contributing to this article.