Climate Change Negotiation Role-Play: Prioritizing Climate Change Adaptation Measures Agricultural Planning in the Bien Gio River Delta

TitleClimate Change Negotiation Role-Play: Prioritizing Climate Change Adaptation Measures Agricultural Planning in the Bien Gio River Delta
Publication TypeMiscellaneous
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsFierman, E, Fairman, D, Plumb, D, Susskind, L, Angell, P, Levin, K
Keywordsagreement, coalition, consensus, consensus building, consensus building institute, decision making, dispute, facilitator, HNI, PON, tradeoffs

Eight-party negotiation (with option for a ninth person facilitator) regarding climate change issues in a situation loosely based on the situation in Viet Nam.

Full Text

The dynamic and uncertain nature of climate change will have serious implications on how we make decisions, particularly longer-term decisions around things like development and infrastructure planning. Recognizing this trend, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and its partners focused the 2010-11 version of their influential World Resources Report on “Decision Making in a Changing Climate.” The recent emergence of climate change adaptation as a serious concern in planning and decision-making means that there is not yet a well-developed set of best practices or case studies. In response to this lack of practice to draw from in creating the Report, WRI contracted the Consensus Building Institute and MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program to develop and implement a pair of simulation exercises, one of which is the Bien Gio Delta simulation. These exercises present the kinds of challenges decision makers are expected to face in the near future as a result of climate change, based on trends already seen, predictions of what may come, and plans already under development.


The Bien Gio Delta exercise is loosely based on the situation in Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta, and it was first run there. The densely populated Mekong Delta is a key source of food production and economic activity in Viet Nam, and climate change – particularly predicted sea level rise – poses a very real threat to it. Adapting to sea level rise will require difficult trade-offs over different time horizons. A number of people were interviewed in the preparation of this exercise, and an extensive literature review was conducted. The details have, however, been modified, and this scenario is placed in the fictitious country of Rinsap.

Ultimately, though, the setting is not so important – while other countries will not face the exact same challenges as Viet Nam, many are facing similar questions around sea level rise. Moreover, planning for a changing climate is increasingly recognized as necessary around the world, and the questions raised in this simulation are applicable to a variety of climate change-driven situations. One of the particular decision-making challenges that climate change presents, and that this exercise can help decision makers confront, is that of making difficult trade-offs in the face of substantial uncertainty.

This exercise will help participants think about:

How to deal with data that could have serious implications but are highly uncertain and dynamic;

How and at what stage climate change should be factored into planning and decision-making;

How to manage tradeoffs implicit adapting to future changes;

How to consider risk in decision-making; and

How different stakeholders can work together to make these challenging decisions.