Teach Your Students to Negotiate Climate Change

By on / Teaching Negotiation

How Can Communities Negotiate Climate Change Risks?

With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastating much of Texas, Louisiana, the Caribbean, and Florida within days of each other, the impacts of climate change are dramatically affecting many communities. The severe flooding brought on by these storms has forced the impacted communities to confront a range of public health risks, as well as evaluations of drainage and building regulations. Moving forward, climate change and increased flooding hazards will force many cities and towns to negotiate strategies for managing climate change risks.

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) has developed a wide variety of negotiation simulations to teach students how communities can manage the risks of climate change. Three of the TNRC’s most useful simulations for managing the risks of climate change are How to Handle the Public Health Impacts of Climate Change, Flooding in Milton, and Coastal Flooding and Climate-Related Risks in Launton.

How to Handle the Public Health Impacts of Climate Change – Featured Negotiation Simulation

In this seven-party role-play simulation, a diverse set of stakeholders must consider the short-term and long-term public health impacts of climate change while assessing the pros and cons of specific (and conflicting) risk management strategies. This game takes between two and three hours. Major lessons include:

  • City officials should take public health risks into account when trying to prioritize strategies for climate adaptation.
  • Local climate change policies need to take account of both short-term and long-term public health risks and benefits.
  • In managing the public health risks of climate change, who should be responsible and who should bear the costs – residents, private sector, local government, state government, or the federal government?
  • Climate vulnerability assessments can be used to educate residents about localized risks and vulnerable populations. They are only useful, though, if they stimulate discussion about actions that can and should be taken.
  • Climate adaptation policies can provide co-benefits. That is, actions like building green infrastructure can reduce public health risks while simultaneously achieving environmental protection goals.
  • Local climate adaptation efforts should take account of the need for local governments to work together during emergencies and deal with public health risks through joint action.
  • It is hard to bring together representatives of numerous groups to engage in joint problem solving or collaborative risk management. Professional (neutral) facilitation can make the task much easier.
  • Infrastructure investments will continue to affect communities long after they are made.
    Building in flexibility and committing to ongoing monitoring of shifting circumstances can make it easier to adjust and adapt.
  • Stakeholders have competing interests and values that shape their views on proposed climate risk management policies. Groups can find solutions that meet their conflicting interests, but only if they listen carefully to each other’s concerns and construct “packages” that seek to meet multiple interests simultaneously.
Flooding in Milton – Featured Negotiation Simulation

This seven-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation among local government, community, business, and environmental representatives, focuses on managing increased probability of river flooding through hard and soft infrastructure solutions, as well as land use planning. The Milton game highlights potential financing strategies for various flood risk adaptation options, as well as dilemmas surrounding new commercial and residential development on undeveloped, flood-prone land along rivers. This game takes between two and three hours. Major lessons include:

  • Climate change adaptation poses difficult planning choices, but there are actions cities and towns can take now to protect themselves that will be beneficial regardless of how severe climate change risks turn out to be.
  • A community-wide approach to managing the collective risks associated with climate change can create opportunities to address other issues while reducing vulnerability and enhancing community resilience.
  • Communities must assess their vulnerabilities and decide which adaptation strategies are most appropriate.
  • At-risk towns and cities will have to consider how the financial responsibility for reducing climate risks will be distributed and whose responsibility it is to implement adaptation measures.
Coastal Flooding and Climate-Related Risks in Launton – Featured Negotiation Simulation

This seven-person, multi-issue facilitated negotiation game focuses on managing increased risk of coastal flooding and storm damage through construction of flood protection infrastructure, imposition of flood-proofing requirements, and land use planning. The Launton game highlights possible solutions for protecting future and existing commercial and residential development, and provides detailed tables and descriptive figures that explain the economic, political, social, and environmental impacts of each option. This game takes between two and three hours. Major lessons include:

  • Development, conservation, and infrastructure investments decisions made today will continue to affect communities far into the future. Short-term actions that do not take long-term climate change risks into account could prove extremely costly in the long run.
  • A community-wide approach to managing the collective risks associated with climate change can create opportunities to address other issues while reducing vulnerability and enhancing community resilience.
  • Communities must assess their vulnerabilities and decide which adaptation strategies are most appropriate.
  • Stakeholders may have conflicting interests that shape their views about which public policy choices make the most sense. By working collaboratively and taking science into account, communities can find creative solutions that meet the interests of diverse stakeholders.

Take your training to the next level with the TNRC

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) offers a wide range of effective teaching materials, including

Most TNRC materials are designed for educational purposes— for use in college classrooms or corporate training settings. TNRC cases and exercises help mediators and facilitators introduce their clients to a process or issue and help individuals who want to enhance their negotiation skills and knowledge.

Role-play simulations introduce participants to new negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. Videos are also a helpful way of introducing viewers to key concepts, and TNRC books, case studies, and periodicals address the theory and practice of negotiation and conflict management.

Check out all that the TNRC has in store >> 

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