Implementing agreements during negotiation

by Yongbei Li, Singapore, ELP 2014
Written on July 20, 2014.

The most impressive workshop for me during Week 2 was the Collaborative Leadership for Sustainable Change, presented by Susan Carpenter. According to Susan, a successful collaborative leader should be one with good communication and negotiation skills. More importantly, he/she needs to be clear about the personality of his/her counterpart so that he/she is able to know how to work with his/her counterpart and achieve their goals at the end of the day.

We learned how to better understand our personality temperaments and deal with conflicts and contradictions during the three-day workshop. At the end of the workshop, we held a mock negotiation session about reaching an agreement on protecting the environment as well as ensuring profits for local citizens. This was my favorite session so far. I played the role of a poacher and managed to negotiate with NGOs, park managers and environmental companies to secure my own right, making a living by receiving a subsidy and agreeing to stop poaching in return. Of course, all of us reached consensus after experiencing a long, tough negotiation. However, it is always much more difficult for both parties and governments to reach agreements in practice.

Governments and organizations have endeavored to cope with the global challenge of climate change for many years. We have the United Nations Climate Change Conferences (UNCCC), which are held yearly to assess the process in dealing with climate change since mid-1990s. The main focus of the conference lately has been to engage countries in reducing greenhouse gases to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above current levels1. The conferences highlighted the urgent need to raise the ‘Clean Energy Fund’ up to $100 billion USD by 2020 to help developing countries with technology support and clean energy, whereas developing countries have to cut emissions correspondingly. Although some consensus was reached and all countries agreed to accelerate the process of raising funds and emitting greenhouse gases, it cannot be denied that there is still a long way to go for all the countries to keep their promises and take the agreement seriously. Developing green economy means that countries have to resist the temptation of boosting economies by using cheap energy that increases pollution, which is obviously not what governors hope to see. In China, for instance, the implementation of the 'Green GDP Accounting System'2 was hard to put into practice. Firstly, it is hard to measure the value of environmental factors. It is not easy for the authorities to subtract the value of environmental damage from the total national income3. Moreover, monitoring the process of calculation is a challenging task, with figures and statistics that may not be reliable. Nevertheless, there are still efforts in fighting pollution in some parts of China, such as limiting car purchases and replacing petrol, diesel oil with bio-ethanol. We are heading towards a more sustainable future, though the process is slow and full of obstacles.

Hence, the most difficult part of negotiation is to implement agreement. To address this issue, we can develop a detailed implementation plan and do a progress report to ensure that everyone has kept their word and taken their own responsibility. The implementation can be more effective if everyone has realized the devastating effect of global warming and the importance of slowing down the pursuit of economic benefits, while putting environmental issues into the first place.

2Green gross domestic product