The chairs and facilitators of COP 23’s sub bodies are responsible for assisting parties to reach agreement. As we observe the negotiations, we tend to focus on the Parties and their interests. However, the facilitators and chairs of these high-level negotiations must accommodate the interests of individual Parties while helping all Parties to agree. During COP 23, with constant APA plenary meeting suspensions, the Co-Chairs had a difficult task getting Parties to consensus.
The two co-chairs of the APA are women: Sarah Bashaan and Jo Tyndall. Bashaan stood out to me. She joined the Saudi delegation to the UNFCCC in 2012 as a negotiator on Climate Change policy in Response Measures and Mitigation. As Co-Chair of the APA, Bashaan had a particular eloquence in the way she handled the negotiations.
During the APA closing plenary, South Africa, on behalf of the Africa Group, sought to adjourn the meeting due to unresolved items on the agenda. Bashaan responded by first recognizing that the APA Co-Chairs understood the importance of the issue raised by the Africa Group. Second, Bashaan reminded all parties that they had agreed in an earlier SBI decision to complete the APA’s work by noon that day. Bashaan thus reminded Parties that their own procedural desires, not her own, urged continuing the closing plenary as rescheduled.
Looking back at my experience at the COP and attending many APA sessions, I notice a few things about Bashaan’s leadership tactics. First, she keeps a calm, neutral tone in her voice. Second, she uses the Parties’ prior agreements to get them to cooperate. Third, she respectfully corrects Parties when they use incorrect information. Taken together, Bashaan’s leadership style is effective at helping Parties come to an understanding.