Making “negotiator friends”

Ratnasari W.

Ratnasari W. negotiates on the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) for Indonesia and strives to improve the country’s greenhouse gas inventory. Visiting the PATPA Annual Partnership Retreat in Lebanon helped her to get a deep understanding of the most complex issues of transparency – and to really feel at home in the international community of negotiators.

When Ratnasari W. visited the COP 24 in Katowice in 2018, it was the first time she had to negotiate on the Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF) for her home country Indonesia. During the conference, the Parties adopted modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs) to enhance the ETF, which had originally been established with the Paris Agreement in 2015 and gradually replaces the measurement, reporting and verification system of the Convention and Kyoto Protocol. “At that time in Katowice, I was new to the topic of ETF and did not know any of the other negotiators,” says the deputy director for the GHG inventory at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia.

Ratnasari has been working in the field of climate change for almost 20 years. As part of the Ministry’s International Agreement Unit, the trained lawyer has been responsible for conducting legal analysis for climate issues and ratifying environmental conventions and bilateral agreements. In 2017 she joined the Ministry’s Climate Unit to work as a ETF negotiator and officer for Indonesia’s greenhouse gas inventory for energy, waste, and Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU). But when it came to the operationalization of the ETF, the experienced climate policy negotiator faced a whole new set of challenges. “The ETF is really difficult to understand,” she says. “And during the negotiation process, we often need to make quick decisions but only have very little time to think about the substance.”

Having this in mind, Ratnasari decided to take part in the Annual Partnership Retreat of the Partnership on Transparency in the Paris Agreement (PATPA) in 2019. The six-day long forum, which took place in Broumana in Lebanon, brought together 54 negotiators, policymakers and practitioners on the issue of climate transparency and ETF operationalization. In preparation for the COP 25 in Madrid, PATPA offered a space for co-learning and experience sharing under the headline  “getting ready for the transition to the Enhanced Transparency Framework”. The participants discussed and examined the necessary next steps and technical questions on the modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPGs) for the ETF – from reporting on adaptation and tracking NDC progress to capacity needs for transparency. And they laid the ground for a smooth negotiation process in Madrid a few weeks later.


PATPA really made it easier for us 
negotiators to communicate

“It was the longest workshop I have ever attended,” says Ratnasari. “At first, I thought it was going to be just another ordinary seminar, to which we get invited a lot, but it turned out that it offered something different.” Speakers from national governments, international organizations, consulting firms, NGOs, and scientific institutions presented case studies and deep dives into technical questions. In addition, informal activities between the sessions were intended to break the ice between the participants, create trust, and enable fruitful and equitable discussions. “Everyone had a chance to speak, without being judged, no matter if you were wrong or right, that really made me feel comfortable,” she recalls. This way, even if the participants could not leave the conference compounds for leisure activities due to security constraints, an informal atmosphere arose. “PATPA really made it easier for us negotiators to communicate,” she says. “The most important thing as a negotiator after all, is to communicate easily with negotiators from other countries.”

For Ratnasari, the presentations and group sessions also bared some valuable knowledge on the ETF process. “I have a broader view and a much clearer understanding now, and I can explain the technical matter of the ETF in a simpler way,” she says. This is especially important, since in Indonesia many subnational stakeholders still struggle with implementing climate change issues, developing the necessary regulations and managing greenhouse gas inventories correctly. “A big task for us is to increase capacity on the subnational level, so the inventory can be conducted as planned.” Frequent rotation in local governments personnel is a strong barrier in this regard. “We train people and three months later they move to another unit. That is a big problem,” Ratnasari says. So, she decided to build an online training system, which can be used by the operators in local governments to conduct the inventory properly. “This way we can foster their engagement.”


In Madrid, I gave my opinions and had 
discussions with different countries, 
because I already knew many people
from the workshop in Lebanon

One of the most pressing issues Ratnasari brought to the Annual Partnership Retreat in Lebanon, was the question of flexibility in reporting. Developing countries are offered flexibility in reporting and review modalities due to capacity constraints. Parties to the Paris Agreement can also decide on flexibility regarding adaptation communication, emission calculation and the application of a notation key for confidential data. “At first, I could not imagine how flexibility can be operationalized and how Indonesia could benefit, if we agreed,” she says. “We were very reluctant in the beginning, but the PATPA workshop changed our position.” Indonesia now agrees to have notation for flexibility and uses the common reporting table for the 2006 IPCC GHG inventory. “Sometimes in the process of negotiations we disagree about something, because we think it is not good for our country, but in the case of the flexibility, after the clear and detailed explanations in the PATPA workshop, we saw the benefits.”

During the COP in Madrid in December of 2019, a year after the COP in Katowice, Ratnasari already felt much more at home in the international community of negotiators. “In Madrid, I gave my opinions and had discussions with different countries, because I already knew many people from the workshop in Lebanon and it was not a stiff situation anymore,” she says. “We could talk much more freely than in Katowice.” She even made some “negotiator friends,” she remarks, from the Singaporean, Saudi Arabian an Iranian delegation.


The PATPA methodology can be
very beneficial, especially for the local 
governments, because sometimes 
the content is very complicated for them

The participatory methodology of PATPA’s Annual Partnership Retreat has also helped Ratnasari to overcome stiff situations in her home country, especially in discussions and negotiations with local governments. “Sometimes, when we attend a workshop in Indonesia, everybody is very serious, so I copy the methodology,” she says. “It can be very helpful to engage a facilitator who breaks the ice and makes it easier for everyone to communicate.”

Indonesia will be the host of the next Annual Partnership Retreat of the PATPA, which had been planned for 2020 in Bali but needed to be converted into a virtual meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next in-person Annual Partnership Retreat after the pandemic though, will take place in Bali. Ratnasari already plans to involve as many of her Indonesian colleagues as possible, especially the younger ones, so they can experience PATPA’s methodology and apply it to their own workshops and discussions. “It can be very beneficial, especially for the local governments, because sometimes the content is very complicated for them” she says. “To make them feel comfortable to get involved in a workshop and render serious topics more fun, will make it easier for them to digest even the most difficult issues.”