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Climate Negotiations Browser

Finished activity

The Climate Negotiations Browser develop a climate change debate exploration platform focusing on deliberations at the highest level of the UNFCCC (United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change).

In continuation of the EMAPS project, the médialab of Sciences-Po Paris, the LSIR of the EPFL and the Atelier Iceberg of Nantes, have developed a climate change debate exploration platform focusing on deliberations at the highest level of the UNFCCC (United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change).

The Climate Negotiations Browser allows the user to navigate over 20  years of UN climate negotiations as captured by IISD's reporting system:  the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

Iframe https://player.vimeo.com/video/146385070

The objective

The platform hopes to assist climate negotiation actors and observers, providing them with the tools required to navigate through the last twenty years of international discussions on climate change:

  • A serie of visual diagrams presenting the main actors (countries and negotiating groupings), the stake of negotiations (mitigation, adaptation, Kyoto Protocol, post-Kyoto…) as well as the evolution of their respective and combined visibility over time.
  • A search engine allowing users to filter and browse the verbatims of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin

The data

All the data analyzed and distributed by the Climate Negotiations Browser derives from reports of the Volume 12 of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

The ENB is an information service published by the IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development). and covers 33 UN negotiation processes on environment and development. Volume 12. is devoted to climate negotiations and includes all the meetings relating to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, including the Conference of Parties, Subsidiary Bodies, Ad Hoc Working Groups and the thematic workshops. The ENB is considered one of the most reliable and comprehensive sources of information on the UNFCCC negotiations. The bulletins are issued daily and summarize the discussion at the official negotiation tables and, when possible, in the corridors.

The problem with the ENB is that the content is published as daily documents mixing different negotiation tracks and formats, making it difficult to have both a whole view of the negotiations and to access specific pieces of information. The main goal of this platform is to facilitate the access to this information.

All the metadata and full text data used and presented in this interface is freely downloadable and reusable as a zipped CSV (utf-8) file published under the ODC-by OpenData licence.

The context

The discussions on climate change are one of – if not the most – complex multilateral negotiations of the United Nations system. Such complexity derives from:

  1. The high number of actors mobilized (compared to other negotiations, almost all countries of the World have high stakes in this debate and they are often joined by non-governmental actors such as large and small NGOs as well as corporations).
  2. The dynamic of alliances between actors (not only the countries are gathered in multiple and overlapping negotiation groupings, but the unequal size of delegations forces smaller countries to ask others to represent them in some negotiation tables).
  3. The high number of parallel negotiation tracks (climate negotiations are spread over many different negotiating arenas: conferences of parties; subsidiary bodies; IPCC; Climate Funds; various Ad Hoc Working Groups…).
  4. The high number and extraordinary variety of topics discussed during the negotiation (spanning from the status of climate migrants, to the financial compensation of loss and damage; from the definition of forest sinks, to the acidification of oceans; from the engagement to reduce greenhouse gases, to the investments in adaptation…).
  5. The interlocking of negotiation tables (the discontent of a country in one topic or negotiation track can easily have repercussions on other topics and tracks).
  6. The accumulation of negotiation results over more than 20 years of diplomacy (which demands the memorization of the positions taken by actors in previous negotiations.

The protocol

The development of the Climate Negotiations Browser entailed 6 different phases:

  1. We collected all the ENB Vol. 12 bulletins from the IISD website and split them into the sections composing them (defined as the portions of text appearing before two subsequent titles).
  2. We manually tagged all the sections according to their negotiation track (COP, IPCC, SBI, SBSTA, Ad Hoc Working Groups, Special workshop) and negotiation format (Plenary, Groups, Corridors, History, Agenda, Analysis).
  3. We extracted all the key-phrases from the sections and manually selected the most frequent and substantial ones
  4. We clustered the sections according to the selected key-phrases that they contained, obtaining 19 emerging topics of discussion defined by a list of specific key-phrases
  5. We tagged all the sections according to the occurrence of country names, negotiation groups and thematic key-phrases
  6. We developed a faceted search engine and a series of visual diagrams to facilitate access to the data

The source code of the scripts wrote to generate, tag and prepare the  metadata used in this web interface is freely available and reusable as  free software under the MIT License on the GitHub repository of this project.