Negotiating climate change: from Durban and beyond

Training Course
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
13 Feb - 06 Apr 2012


Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of 21st century diplomacy and international governance. Given the many different stakeholders and communities who have roles to play, it is a contemporary challenge with regard to its demand on interdisciplinary knowledge, skills and languages, and the personal capacities needed to combine these so as to make diplomatic sense and success. Competing interests, political tensions, and challenges of the world today, such as the economic recession and competing development priorities, mean that negotiation deadlocks are rife and ways to overcome them are becoming more and more challenging to find.

The outcome of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol in Durban, has shown the world that despite challenging circumstances, multilateral fora can still foresee traction with regard to making meaningful progress on the international climate change agenda.

Event objectives

This online course will develop participants’ understanding of the climate change policy framework, by building an appreciation of the science, causes and impacts of climate change, the history of the policy making process and the UNFCCC framework, and will also consider the pertinent challenges currently facing diplomats and international decision makers in making progress with what is currently on the negotiating table.

Learning objectives

At the end of this course, participants should be able to:
- Comprehend climate change science and the observed and projected impacts of climate change;
- Track and explain the international climate change policy framework, including the climate change negotiations to date under the UNFCCC;
- Define both climate change mitigation and adaptation;
- Appreciate international considerations for climate change decision-making;
- Appraise the key issues in the ongoing international climate change negotiations, understand what is on the negotiating table, and how to build and move forward from the outcomes of COP17.

Content and structure

The course content is to be confirmed but will tentatively include the following one-week modules:

- Climate Change Science, Causes and Impacts
- Introduction to Climate Change Diplomacy
- Implementation, Compliance and Enforcement of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol
- Mitigating Climate Change
- Adapting to Climate Change
- International Considerations for Climate Change Decision Making
- Other Important Considerations for International Climate Change Negotiations
- Towards a Post 2012 Agreement


e-Learning: The course is internet-based, moderated by senior international experts, asynchronous, and places emphasis on online discussions and self-paced learning. The participants will be primarily responsible for their own learning over the eight-week span of the course. The course will consist of the following components:

- Compulsory and optional reading material, intended to teach the basic concepts and principles of the lesson's subject-matter;
- External links to additional books, articles, documents, and websites related to the lessons;
- Quizzes and case studies at the end of each module. To be eligible for the course certificate, a passing grade of 80% on both quizzes and case studies is required;
- A Community Discussion Board will be available for participants to post questions or comments visible to the instructor and other participants. This discussion board will be moderated by the course director and UNITAR;

Estimated learning time: minimum of 60 hours;
Participants will be eligible to receive a certificate after the successful completion of the course.

Additional information

Event fee

USD 800; Participants from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are eligible to apply for a fellowship.

Target audience

The course targets mid to senior-level government officers in ministries preparing for and/or taking part in conferences in relation to climate change as well as staff of intergovernmental / nongovernmental organizations. It also targets entry-level and mid-career diplomats working in a multilateral setting. Private sector specialists and students whose work or studies are related to this subject are also encouraged to apply.

Related Links


Capacity Development, Climate Change

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