Réseau universitaire international de Genève
Geneva International Academic Network

Français | English
Homepage > Research > Projects > Long Description

Training in Environmental Diplomacy

Small Grant


Environmental Diplomacy - Sustainable Development - Training


During the last twenty years, the growing environmental awareness worldwide has resulted in the development of a number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). Today’s MEA’s cover many dimensions of sustainable development, including oceans, endangered species, biodiversity, climate change, ozone layer, chemicals and hazardous wastes.  

Even though this impressive “body” of environmental law has been signed and ratified by a large number of countries, it remains far from fully enforced, due to the lack of adequate legislative and operational arrangements at the national level. A major obstacle in this regard is the lack of skills at the negotiation table and decision-making level.

In many instances the failure of governments to agree on and implement common environmental policies is due to a lack of scientific understanding and diplomatic ability to grasp all aspects of environmental imperatives and negotiate them in international forums. Complex and politically sensitive areas of environmental concern, which emerged in the 1990s, such as climate change or biodiversity, have challenged many governments in both the industrialized and developing world to adapt or acquire new negotiating skills.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the University of Geneva developed an Environmental Diplomacy Training Program responding to this need, drawing on the unique concentration of environment and sustainable development related institutional resources, scientific expertise and multilateral experience in Geneva. The program is oriented towards teaching the practical skills and techniques necessary to bridge divides, build consensus positions and negotiate agreements on the environment and sustainable development.

A successful pilot training course was held in summer 2006 and thirty (future) diplomats, officials and other potential negotiators were introduced to and trained in environmental diplomacy work, through distance learning and an intensive two week training session at Chateau de Bossey, Celigny, followed by thesis writing.  The participants, in their evaluation of the course, were unanimous in their praise and of the opinion that their 10 days intensive exposure to coordinators, politicians and each other had significantly added to their knowledge, insight and understanding of the place and ways how to deal with the environment in the negotiation arena. They recommended that the experience gained with the pilot course, be used and turned into a regular program of environmental diplomacy training in Geneva.

The main objective of the project is to support the preparation and organization of the summer 2007 training course in environmental diplomacy, including researching and developing four new additional modules on water, energy, public participation and negotiating techniques. Trainers and lecturers from the pilot course will have to be confirmed to participate in the second course and a suitable group of new ones identified and mobilized for the new modules, drawing upon and expanding the network established for the pilot training course. The compulsory reading material and related bibliographies linked to the fourteen modules will be prepared and the distance learning will be set up to constitute the basis for the second training course.

The project will furthermore contribute in the efforts to develop and structurally anchor training in environmental diplomacy in the future cooperation arrangements between the international organizations and the academic world in Geneva.

The grant provided by the GIAN for this project totals SFr 50,000

> See shorter summary

Project Team

Mr Frits Schlingemann , Coordinator, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) .

Mr Arthur Dahl , Principal Member, International Environment Forum (IEF) .

Related Links

> Certificat of Advanced Studies in Environmental Diplomacy

Related News

Research Output

Certificate of Advanced Studies in Environmental Diplomacy 2007
(available in English only)
> more