Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Promoting an 'accent of pragmatism'

In my last blog, I introduced to you the phrase the 'accent of politics' which describes the subtleties involved in the world of political negotiations such as the UNFCCC talks. These negotiations are not straightforward and transparent. For diverse and numerous reasons key aspects which one would assume would be present in the discussions are left out and the emphasis of discussions are disproportionately focused around certain issues. 

Issues being resolved/addressed/ignored with or without being mentioned, is due to a clever mix of planning, language, content, intent, control, manipulation, capitalization and compromises. For me, the best way to denote these ingredients of negotiations was by branding it as an ‘accent of politics’.


Transversely, what I like to think of as the 'accent of pragmatism' is the approach which accepts the reality that these subtleties exist in the world of politics. The coinage of 'accent of pragmatism' came through after I had a one to one interaction with people from different countries/region with different needs/demands. But these members of the official delegations did have a common point which was doted with pragmatism. 

They themselves actually believed and believed strongly that it is baseless to have negotiations without water as it is a focal and a cross cutting issue - I am sure that there are plenty out there with similar viewpoints. 

The need of the hour is to get them together. In the way the 'accent of politics' has determined the way the negotiations transpire, similarly an 'accent of pragmatism' needs to be used to get like minded people together to counter what has been happening to date under the garb of 'good future'.


I am keen on sharing my own views of how we can promote the 'accent of pragmatism' amid the negotiators despite realizing that similar initiatives or efforts must have been made in the past by groups like Water Climate Coalition, Stockholm International Water Institute and Freshwater Action Network. I am a firm believer in loud thinking as it helps generate larger discussion which many a times leads to productive strategies.


'Accent of pragmatism' can be successfully promoted only if the strategy has strong political processes and actions. By political processes and actions I mean that a group of young water negotiators should be identified from across the globe and trained in the complicated processes/procedures that are followed during the UNFCCC's meetings. The tutoring will not only help them in understanding the processes but will inform them about potential spaces that can be tapped/exploited in order to push the agenda forward. It is crucial to develop a dedicated team of young professionals as water negotiators so that they can impress upon the young members of parties across the table.


Participating in the side events of the UNFCCC's can become an effective strategy as it can create impact at the spur of the moment, which will be helpful for the water negotiators to place the water concerns in a broad canvass.


In my opinion I believe that it is important to undertake the following to ensure a more meaningful impact:


  • Cull out important findings from the IPCC's Technical Paper VI on Climate Change and  the Nairobi Work Programme and translate the information in preferred languages and develop it like an information/knowledge pack and distribute it amongst delegates - this might help in pushing the concerns.
  • A review must be undertaken of Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 36), Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 36), Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), Ad Hoc Working Group on  
  • Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), and Ad Hoc
  • Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) to understand the location of water related discourse within these committees.
  • Proper identification of participants for the Mexico meeting should be undertaken and if possible a de-briefing session should be arranged prior to the global meet. The outcome of the meeting should then be translated into different language of preference for wider dissemination.
  • Capturing Doha with all the relevant findings, inferences, voices, photographs, narrations, technical arguments concerning climate change and water should be planned well in advance for maximizing impacts.
  • It is crucial to collaborate with larger civil society groups that have been working on different issues of climate change from the local to global level. This will help in generating support from different civil society groups as well as getting a well established and pervasive platform  for wider dissemination.

Another consistent observation that I kept confronting was of the age group of the members of parties participating in the discussions. Most of the times, irrespective of the party, it was a young brigade of professionals who were representing their country in the discussions with few exceptions. They were articulating their point of views in the best possible manner, which to me gave another hope for promoting the 'accent of pragmatism' despite the strong presence of politics in the arena.


At the end of the day, though I am confused about the past, there is tremendous hope that water will become a crucial issue within the climate change negotiations.




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