Virtual workshop participation


Parties to the Paris Agreement increasingly shift their focus from international diplomacy under the UNFCCC to domestic implementation action. In this connection, we have been working with several developing countries mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa on the review and drafting of climate relevant legislation and other governance arrangements.

One of the initial stages can be a round-table workshop that brings together different ministries, government agencies and other stakeholder to develop ideas and discuss priorities. Here, LRI provides the overview on expectations and opportunities under the Paris Agreement and participants then examine the implications for the national context. As part of breakout groups or other interactive work we try to collectively identify levers of change, ways forward and potential barriers.

But in times of Covid 19 and (perfectly reasonable) travel restrictions world wide, we now have to contribute to physical in-country workshops via Zoom and or other platforms. There have been strange moments when we listened to presentations and did not understand a word, of feedback loops and complete silence, or auto-generated hologram images. But so far the “hybrid” meetings have not resulted in Handforth Parish Council or “cat filter” moments.

Without direct contact the workshops are less efficient, interactive and a lot of effort goes to clarifying statements and contributions. But on the plus side they put the local partner firmly into control, force all contributors to focus and – of course – reduce our carbon footprint. In the past, our partners in developing countries have been rather focused on face-to-face training events and meetings but at the moment this seems to be changing.

The essential lessons we have learned so far are:
– Do not go into a meeting without testing the technology and connectivity beforehand!
– Make contingency arrangements to share and show presentations and/or to call into a meeting (e.g. via Whatsapp).
– Communicate at all times – so that both sides always know what is supposed to happen.