From the 4-6 October, WEDO, with the support of the Australian government, gathered fifteen women leaders from twelve Pacific countries at the Pacific Women Climate Change Negotiators Workshop. Hosted at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, the workshop prepared these leaders for their upcoming participation at the UNFCCC 24th Conference of Parties (COP24) in Katowice, Poland. During the event, the future delegates deepened their knowledge about climate change negotiations and developed essential skills for the conference, including public speaking, negotiation skills and drafting text.
During the workshop, participants were able to deeply explore content on the policy and processes of the UNFCCC. One participant noted, “Having the opportunity to attend for the first time a workshop of this kind has really opened my eyes to a lot of things in regards to UNFCCC and what it is, its processes, climate change, and what to expect at COP.” Another recognized that, “contextualizing these [linkages of thematic areas under UNFCCC and the negotiation steams] to regional and national understanding adds great value and benefit into deepening our understanding of the UNFCCC processes.” This experience, added another participant, “gives us an overview of where exactly the negotiations are at and where we want to go for COP24.” This strong foundation of understanding the UNFCCC and its multifaceted, complex processes, procedures, and actors is indeed key for these participants to realize where they want negotiations to “go,” showing them how ambitious, climate just solutions that respond to the needs of the communities of the Pacific can be supported and advanced within this convention.
Participants also pointed out that the interactive, participatory aspects of the training–namely, public speaking, drafting negotiation text, and the negotiations simulation–were critical sessions to enable their effective participation at COP24. The simple truth is that “the practical exercises are great ways to develop confidence in negotiating and diplomacy.” Another participant recognized the power of practice not only in this workshop, but for future honing of her skills: “the workshop allowed me to evaluate my capacity with regards to public speaking and negotiating and I hope to further develop and enhance these skills with similar workshops in the future.” That’s one reason the Women Delegates Fund operates as a leadership development program and seeks to find opportunities, in training workshops as well as at additional negotiation sessions, for women climate leaders to deepen their skill set and knowledge base.
Finally, the workshop helped to spark participants’ thinking about their leadership attributes, through exercises and observing their fellow participants’ styles of leading and speaking. One climate leader expressed, “This workshop helped me value and appreciate how each person is unique and diverse. Usually sometimes when you’re a leader there are times when you stand alone because what you stand for or believe in is not usually agreed to or shared by the majority, but because you know it’s the right thing to do you persevere despite the challenges…being a leader requires that you be confident [and] congruent in that you ‘walk the talk’ and network with the right people for support.”
WEDO will continue to facilitate training workshops and promote the understanding that women’s equal participation in climate change decision-making is fundamental to just policies. Through the Women Delegates Fund, WEDO provides both direct travel support to women to attend the UNFCCC negotiations, as well as capacity building opportunities such as this workshop.