At COP26 in Glasgow, the IASS is again offering a space where negotiators and stakeholders of observer organisations can meet in formats that are typically not used in side events, but are more structured than informal dialogues in breaks or over meals. The space is designed to deepen meaningful interaction, build trust and engage openly in honest dialogue and reflection.
The IASS piloted such spaces during COP24 in Katowice and offered them for a second time at COP25 in Madrid. The researchers tested different facilitation formats to see what works in the setting of a UN Climate Change conference. The delegates who participated represented a diverse composition in terms of their professional background, cultural socialization, age, gender and role in the negotiations. Several of them strongly expressed the need for protected spaces for discussions in smaller groups, facilitated interactions, and reflections to think out loud and think together and to be supported in reconnecting to a deeper level of intention whilst participating and engaging in the COP.
Scotish Event Center (SEC), BLUE ZONE, Hall 5
Come to Area E, walk through the food area at the entrance, turn right and you will see Pavillon #99, marked by a green waterfall background print. On the right side of the pavilion of Japan
While in Madrid, the IASS researchers focused on examining the culture of togetherness at COP, this time they are looking at which approaches can create such a transformative space and what happens in transformative communication spaces.
Aside from the restorative and empowering effect such a space has on the individual, its potential for genuine encounters has been shown to be equally valuable. Connecting (on a personal level) to other stakeholders creates a shared web of goodwill and knowledge by finding links between experiences, thoughts and feelings. Connecting occurs not just by sharing information, but by engaging and learning about the other side's story, their perspectives and concerns, and their worldviews on the situation. Connecting also promotes the human interdependence which must reflect the technical and political interdependence of climate change. This network of relationships can form the bonds for building a different relationship instead of one centred on exchanging positions and issues. Connecting allows parties to see the other as a person and to interact differently and to build collaborations. Each bond enhances the capacity for joint action (Fletcher 1998; Putnam 2004).
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Based on this quality of connections, such trusted spaces hold the potential to draw creativity in thought and produce insights. Taking further into account that the different delegates coming to the COP conferences bring a substantial and diverse potential with them, the dialogues can as well be a space of co-creation. They can lead to new, more effective and efficient strategies and solutions. It is widely thought that only by working collectively, pulling all available expertise together, will we be able to change the course of human development and resulting climate change to still meet the Paris Agreement goals.
Each session will be announced with a clear description of the format and theme. A central explanation will inform negotiators and other COP participants about the opportunities of these new formats, giving space for the immense and diverse potential of delegates attending the COPs.
The events centering on and practicing a particular format of reflection and dialogue allow co-generation of topics for the exchange in a bottom-up manner from each participant.
- Wamsler, C., Schäpke, N., Fraude, C., Stasiak, D., Bruhn, T., Lawrence, M. G., Schroeder, H., Mundaca, L. (2020): Enabling new mindsets and transformative skills for negotiating and activating climate action. Lessons from UNFCCC conferences of the parties. - Environmental science & policy, 112, 227-235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2020.06.005
Fraude, C., Bruhn, T., Stasiak, D., Wamsler, C., Mar, K. A., Schäpke, N., Schroeder, H., Lawrence, M. G. (2021): Creating space for reflection and dialogue: Examples of new modes of communication for empowering climate action. - GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 30, 3, 174-180.
Mar, K. A., Fraude, C., Bruhn, T., Schäpke, N., Stasiak, D., Schroeder, H., Wamsler, C., Lawrence, M. G. (2021): Fostering Reflection, Dialogue and Collaboration among Actors at the UN Climate Change Conferences. - IASS Policy Brief, 2021, 5.
Kathleen Mar (1 November 2021): Something different in climate communication at COP26. DKK Column - On the Subject
Thomas Bruhn, On the culture of untapped potential, Blogpost 2017 (COP23)