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By on 11 Dec, 2012 | From the channel/s: Climate Change

One of the few widely praised decisions coming out of the recent climate change negotiations (COP18) is a text on “loss and damage.” It is generally hailed as an important acknowledgement of historic responsibilities and common but differentiated responsibilities. This is the first time that “loss and damage” from climate change is acknowledged in a legal text and it is the first time a pledge has been made to compensate developing states for loss and damage incurred from climate change.

By on 30 Nov, 2012 | From the channel/s: Climate Change

As much as “one state, one vote” rules or methods of consensus decision-making aim at giving the impression of resulting in a decision among equals, this is simply not the case. To anyone involved in diplomacy this statement is akin to a truism.

By on 26 Nov, 2012 | From the channel/s: Climate Change

Today, the 18th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change begins in Doha, Qatar. Once again, the world comes together to negotiate climate change: mitigation, adaptation, finance, and governance processes. The task is formidable and the issue is pressing and complex. Past commitments, like the Green Climate Fund, need to be specified and put into practice, new commitments, most importantly a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, need to be made.

By on 06 Sep, 2012 | From the channel/s: Looking Sideways


Apparently, sometimes it is hard to make the donkey cross the bridge.

I begin with a confession: I had to google the term “pons asinorum” and part of my newly gained knowledge of the term comes from an online dictionary. Roughly translated it means “a bridge for donkeys.”

By on 23 Aug, 2012 | From the channel/s: Diplomacy

Metaphors matter in the world of diplomats. Negotiations can be derailed; diplomacy is a game of chess; and states are people.

By on 20 Aug, 2012 | From the channel/s: Looking Sideways

Metaphors matter in the world of diplomats. In the following, I suggest three distinct ways in which they do matter. Each of these areas highlights a different take on the role of metaphors in language as well as in making sense of and creating the world. A skilful diplomat will be aware of all three areas and will be able to reflect on and use each of them when and where necessary. Here, I aim at reflecting on philosophy of science perspectives on metaphors and in a second blog post I will be aiming at suggesting a “user manual” of metaphors for diplomats.

By on 26 Jul, 2012 | From the channel/s: Looking Sideways

A well known fable begins by describing how the cartographers of an Empire were asked to create a map. They create a map that is so perfect that it matches the Empire in every point. It not only matches the Empire, the map covers it in every point. With time, the Empire falls into ruins but so does the map. How can we be sure which one is real? (1)

By on 18 Jul, 2012 | From the channel/s: Looking Sideways


In a very thoughtful piece titled “Don’t blame man, blame the Polynesian rat” Aldo Matteucci warned about the dangers of analogies (and metaphors for that matter). He did so in a reply to one of my blog posts in which I praised the usefulness of metaphors to make sense of complex and intangible entities or phenomena such as climate change.  

By on 06 Jul, 2012 | From the channel/s: Climate Change

Pictures and illustrations are an excellent tool to illustrate complexities because they allow us to incorporate metaphors and analogies more intuitively. And metaphors and analogies are, ultimately, what we use to make sense of the abstract and the complex. It’s a challenge to illustrate the complexities of climate change; it’s a challenge one must confront when teaching and advocating on climate change.


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