Workshop helps negotiators from developing countries prepare for COP24

Almost 30 climate negotiators from vulnerable developing countries attended a workshop before the Katowice climate talks to be briefed on the key issues and negotiating strategies.

News, 06 December 2018
Junior negotiators and advisors under the ecbi programme gather during the workshop in Katowice (Photo: Matt Wright/IIED)

Junior negotiators and advisors under the ecbi programme gather during the workshop in Katowice (Photo: Matt Wright/IIED)

The participants at the workshop, organised as part of the European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi), included new negotiators and officials from almost 20 countries. They were briefed by leading climate negotiators and ambassadors, as well as legal advisors.

The training workshop took place the day before the 2018 global climate talks in Katowice, Poland. The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is taking place from 2-14 December, with more than 28,000 official delegates and advisors, including over 7,000 NGO representatives and 1,500 media representatives.

The ecbi training and support programme, managed by IIED in partnership with Oxford Climate Policy (OCP), is designed to develop skills and capacity among developing country negotiators.

The pre-COP workshop on 1 December was planned to help developing country negotiators and policymakers by outlining the key processes and issues.

The workshop opened with welcoming comments from IIED’s Achala Abeysinghe, also the legal and strategic advisor to the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group at the UNFCCC negotiations, and its chair, Gebru Jember Endalew. The LDC Group represents the 47 nations that are especially vulnerable to climate change but have done the least to cause the problem.

Abeysinghe said: “Through the training and support programme, we try to create a level playing field in climate negotiations and to develop capacity of LDCs to become rule makers rather than rule takers.”

Endalew, who has himself benefited from the work of ecbi after starting his negotiating career in 2008 in a regional training workshop in Botswana, said although he was initially confused when he began, the support he received was invaluable. And he made clear that he was still learning today.


Monika Antosik, from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was also present to represent the COP24 presidency. After praising how ecbi aims to encourage women negotiators in particular, she said: “There is a strong will among all parties to operationalise the Paris Agreement. The biggest challenge we are facing is the amount of technical work within the time constraints. We need to find the compromises; that is the only way it can be implemented.”

The ratio of women negotiators participating in the ecbi training and support programme is 44% – more than the ratio of women negotiators in the overall UNFCCC process (36%).

The workshop began with Endalew setting out the priorities for the Katowice talks from the perspective of the LDCs, and he emphasised how finance was the key to unlocking ambition. He also highlighted recent global disasters, such as the fires in the west of the United States, that are caused or exacerbated by climate change: “This is just with a 1° increase…”

Manjeet Dhakal, of Climate Analytics, provided an introduction to the COP agenda and negotiations ahead, and highlighted the recent IPCC special report: "Limiting warming to 1.5° is still possible but will require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society. The longer we leave it to act, the more difficult, more expensive, and more dangerous it will be.”

In the afternoon, Abeysinghe outlined the Paris Agreement Work Programme, and OCP’s Benito Muller provided some top tips on climate finance.

The final presentation saw Tuvalu's Ambassador for Climate Change and the Environment, Ian Fry, offer junior negotiators his personal advice on how to negotiate effectively at COP24, and the workshop concluded with the senior and junior negotiators and advisors sharing their key lessons from personal experience and the workshop.

Junior negotiators and advisors under the ecbi programme gather during the workshop in Katowice (Photo: Matt Wright/IIED)

Workshops and publications

The ecbi training and support programme also holds several other workshops each year in targeted regions to enable officials from vulnerable countries to fully participate in the UNFCCC decision-making process. The workshops also allow negotiators to meet, exchange views, and make joint plans to foster collaboration.

In 2018, the programme delivered three regional training workshops. In Saly, Senegal, Anglophone African countries met from 9-10 April and Francophone African countries from 12-13 April. Negotiators from South Asia and the Pacific met in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 6-7 June.

The ecbi training and support programme also produces a series of ‘pocket guide’ publications. These cover issues ranging from gender equality and loss and damage, to transparency and capacity building. Some of these are also available in French.