Environmental diplomacy: a training provided to young Caribbean diplomats

The insular Caribbean is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots on the planet, home to a variety of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic. This biodiversity is exposed to many threats, such as climate change, deforestation, or the anthropization of natural environments. The preservation of this natural heritage is linked to global geopolitical issues. To assert the interests of their country in the numerous Conferences of the Parties (COP) to come in the field of the environment, diplomats in the Caribbean region need to be able to understand the scientific issues that are addressed and be able to defend their positions. A partnership between the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) of Paris and the association Caribaea Initiative led to a training workshop in which young diplomats from many Caribbean countries participated.

The capacity building workshop in Environmental Diplomacy took place in two parts. A first virtual workshop was held in December 2021, for four days. Among the topics covered, learnt about the role of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and were trained in international negotiation techniques through examples and exercises. In June 2022, the second part took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The young diplomats who have benefited from it represent a wide range of countries: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Haiti, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. They were supervised by Denis Duclos (Director of the European and International Relations Department of the MNHN), Jean-Patrick Le Duc (Professor at the MNHN), Han de Koijir (member of the Belgian delegation to the COP) and Margot Parcaroli-Ruiz -Estrada (CBD mission manager at MNHN), with the support of Anshuman Rana (Project coordinator, MNHN). Sara Genta, administrative secretary at Caribaea Initiative, also went there to represent the association and provide logistical assistance.

The trainers presented the functioning of the Conference of the Parties and reminded the participants about issues and negotiation techniques. The future post-2020 framework, following on from the strategic framework for the 2011-2020 period, as well as the various Earth Summits, were among the other topics discussed. Exercises allowed participants to put their lessons into practice.

The participants were motivated and generally satisfied with the contribution of this workshop, confirming the interest of such a reinforcement of environmental diplomatic capacities. To continue to train diplomats in the field of the environment, starting from university, the possibility of setting up a master’s degree in environmental diplomacy is currently being studied, within the framework of this same partnership between the MNHN and Caribaea Initiative.