Wednesday, 12 December 2018

My story for the Talanoa Dialogue under the Paris Agreement - Part II - How do we get there.

On 11 December 2018 I took part in the Ministerial Talanoa, face to face story telling with ministers, as part of the political phase of the Talanoa Dialogue at COP24 in Katowice as one of two members of the Research and Independent NGOs constituency. Below is the story I shared. Here you can also listen to it at 3 hours 34 min:


My story is your story. The story of almost 200 countries on a beautiful blue planet engaged in a joint endeavour of grand proportions -addressing climate change. In doing so you have, as is your habit, developed an international treaty containing a mixture of legal and moral obligations as a basis for your efforts.

You devised an accountability mechanism for the treaty suited to a community of peers that want to help and encourage each other to action, rather than to scold and sanction each other for inaction. This mechanism includes a global reflection every five years on the sufficiency of aggregate action that shall inform the plans for how much a country will do next.

Accountability can be defined as being about telling a story, based on some obligation and with some consequences. You are now here in the trial run of the global stocktake telling your stories based on your obligations. The decisive question is: how do you make obligatory story telling at global level have sufficient consequences in the form of enhanced ambition at national level?

This year I lead a research project with GLOBE and One World Trust beginning to search the answer to this question. We looked for good examples of how countries are engaging with the Talanoa Dialogue at home and how they are planning to engage with future global stocktakes.

We found 37 Talanoa Dialogues organised by governments at national or regional level. Most of them were stand alone one day multi-stakeholder events with story telling of best practices and not linked to a policy process. One shining exception was Peru that held a three-month long public deliberation process with stakeholders throughout the country feeding into developing regulations for their climate legislation.

We found that some of you like the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Mexico and the EU have adapted their legislative or policy frameworks to include five-year review cycles of climate plans aligned with the global stocktake. Many others have not yet done so.

Based on our preliminary results we recommend you to bring the outcome of this Talanoa Dialogue home to your countries, empower your parliament to take a lead role in organising a reflection process on its implications. This ensures broad legitimacy and consideration of cross-sectoral policy implications. Then, if you have not done so already, enhance ambition. But as important is to evaluate the experience of the reflection process itself and use that when you adjust legislation and design future processes. Key questions for such an evaluation are: how was the process able to foster earnest and uplifting reflection, combining careful analysis of experience with unlocking enthusiasm for doing more across all sectors?

If I ended the story here countries would be on their own in learning how to best design their national ambition mechanism. Why not build a learning community among yourselves, share in your Nationally Determined Contributions or National Communications your failures and successes in reflecting for enhanced ambition and discuss these when you meet?

How this story will end is a lot up you. You have designed an accountability mechanism asking everyone of you - the governments of the world - to look yourself in the mirror every five years together with your parliamentarians, scientists and citizens and earnestly compare your climate actions to the moral and legal standards of the Paris Agreement and if there are mismatches - step up action.


Monday, 10 December 2018

My story for the Talanoa Dialogue under the Paris Agreement - Part I - Where are we?

As part of the preparatory phase of the Talanoa Dialogue a face-to-face session of storytelling was held on 6 May in Bonn. I took part as one of seven researchers.


This is the story of a species with a unique capacity for science and morality that inhabits a beautiful blue planet. As a result of a tumultuous history its members are divided into some 200 countries. These countries are finding more and more reasons to unite to address common challenges. The changing climate is one example. After many years of struggle they agreed on an accord with a common objective. Joy and celebrations! In this accord countries accepted to do their very best to address climate change. As was their habit – however – they did not want to prescribe how much each country should do.

So to make sure that the total contributions are sufficient to reach their common objective they created a mechanism of global reflection on past action every five years. Each country then has to consider the outcome of this when deciding how much they will do next. This is a collective accountability mechanism. Accountability can be defined as being about telling a story, based on some obligation and with some consequences.

We are now in a trial run of this mechanism. This we know. But we do not know how obligatory story telling at global level can have sufficient national consequences. We can develop two sets of questions to find out.

First, how do we tell our stories and reflect on them at the global level?
  • How do we create an environment of amity and trust for sharing stories of both failure and success for mutual learning?
  • How earnest and uplifting can we make our collective deliberations based on these stories?

Second, how do we bring the global reflection home to our countries?
  • How open and timely are our national climate planning cycles to consider the outcome of the global reflection?
  • How much do parliamentarians and other domestic actors support considering national responsibilities in light of a global perspective? And how can these actors hold the government to account for its climate policy?

Even more relevant is: how do we hold ourselves to account? Do we regularly look ourselves in the mirror, reflect on our actions and compare those to our ethical standards? And if we find a mismatch do we strengthen our pledge to do our best to support the Paris Agreement? Finally, do we go home from here and have uplifting and meaningful conversations with our family members, co-workers, friends and strangers to accompany others towards such self-reflection? Then we can say this process is about facilitative accountability.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

On my way to share a story in Katowice and COP24

It is that time of year again. Thousands gather in once place to discuss one of the biggest challenges humanity is facing - climate change. This time it is Katowice, the heard of the coal production of Poland that is the host for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, COP24 in short. Climate change is an issue that epitomizes with lucid clarity the limitations of governing global issues within the constraints formed by rules and mindsets dominated by national self-interest and national sovereignty. Could we imagine that if a threat of this magnitude would face a single country - and that country had the means to address it, that it would stick its head in the sand and wait for better times?

Climate change illustrates the need for global public governance that is as effective to ensure the well-being of humanity and the planet as national governments are. In the rule system we have now under the Paris Agreement that means that every nation that has ratified the agreement needs to commit whole heartedly to all of its the obligations, both the legal and the moral ones. One of these obligations is to make sure that the 'ambition mechanism' of the Paris Agreement can work.  The core idea of the ambition mechanism is that every country shall reflect on the outcome of the global stocktake and use this as input to enhance their level of ambition if the stocktake shows this is necessary. And the same goes for the 'trial stocktake' this year in the form of the Talanoa Dialogue. I will bring a policy brief to COP24 that looks at how countries are preparing to enable the ambition mechanism and that suggests measures both at national and international level that are key to making it work.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Blog in progress

This blog is in the making - over the next few weeks I will add my contributions to the legitimation of global public governance in the form of policy briefs, reports and scientific publications. Tune in for more!