The Mundanities of Negotiations

I have a perfectly fine laptop that I purchased 2 1/2 years ago, and there are many environmental and human health reasons for using a piece of electronic equipment for its full lifetime, and that’s my plan.

But having an exhausted battery that lasts only an hour or so at a stretch presents a problem at a convention center where there are no outlets in any of the rooms where anything (negotiations, plenary, side event) happens. Which is my own problem, yes, and I should get a new battery, yes, but it turns out that I share this problem with a broad group of people. Most notably, many of the negotiators, but particularly those from “Least Developed Countries” (the ‘LDC Group’). Monday in the opening session of SBSTA, a representative of the Gambia was delivering the opening statement of the LDC Group with eloquence and clarity, until she suddenly paused and said “Oh sh*t.”

That’s right, her notebook’s battery had died on her. She proceeded to borrow her neighbor’s MacBook (I’m not sure if it was Georgia or Germany, but it definitely wasn’t the Gabon) and move her thumb drive over so she could continue reading the statement. In the middle of the whole process, with a room of thousands of people waiting, she quipped “Well, that’s how you know this is an LDC.” The whole room totally cracked up.

My battery is on the verge of dying right now, so I’ll make this short. In my experience, negotiations are mostly shaped by the overal geo-political state, individual domestic situations, business lobbies, domestic support and training for a negotiating team, and sometimes pressure from social movements, scientific bodies, and lawyers… but they are also shaped by which individuals are in the room at 4 am on Friday night, their blood sugar levels, their personalities, inter-personal dynamics…. And no doubt, these two weeks, by who in any given room has a laptop with a long-life battery and who does not.

Great Sources of What is Happening Politically and Technically:

http://climatenetwork.org/eco-newsletters – view of many civil society groups, but not all. Great articles directed specifically towards negotiators here in Durban – gets run off and passed out every morning.

http://www.iisd.ca/climate/cop17/ – IISD creates Environmental Negotiations Bulletin at all events like this, and they are priceless. For the policy wonks.

 

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