University of Twente Student Theses


Negotiation of an international agreement on water footprint reduction : development and application of a Negotiation Game

Leijser, B.A. (2019) Negotiation of an international agreement on water footprint reduction : development and application of a Negotiation Game.

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Abstract:Given the rising water footprint of humanity due to population growth, dietary changes, and increased use of biofuels; there is a need for an international agreement on water footprint quotas per country. Such an agreement could be similar in scope and effect to the Paris and Kyoto climate agreements. This agreement could include objectives, principles, targets, and regulation schemes aimed at achieving a global reduction of the water footprint of national consumption. The goal of this thesis is to determine how international consensus can be reached on sustainable and equitable water footprint quotas per country. In order to reach such a consensus, negotiations have to take place. Relevant questions will be which countries will take part in these negotiations and what their narratives will be. A ‘narrative’ is defined here as the rationale of a country, including the perception of the problems and possible solutions. A narrative creates the perspective from which a country forms an opinion and makes decisions. In order to assess the feasibility of such an agreement, explore the possible narratives by countries and study the dynamics in the negotiation process, a serious game was developed. In this ‘Negotiation Game’, eight players assemble at a negotiation table, where everyone takes up the role of a negotiator who acts on behalf of a country or a group of countries. These countries have been pre-selected based on a Power-Interest analysis. The goal of the Negotiation Game is to arrive at a final agreement that consists of four articles, namely: objectives, principles, targets, and regulation. Players are encouraged to determine their own position based on some underlying data that are provided. During the negotiations, players express their own narrative, question the narrative of others, and strive to find common ground. If multiple players arrive at a similar line of reasoning and a comparable stake, we identify this as a shared narrative. Shared narratives may show potential for the direction that actual negotiations in practice might follow, and thus inform us how potential future international negotiations on water footprint reduction may evolve. After determining the country selection, relevant indicators, and structure of the Negotiation Game, it was tested in practice with a group of professors, post-docs, and PhD and master students from the University of Twente. This experiment was recorded, and the resulting transcript was analysed. After an initial verbal communication analysis and a resulting analysis of characteristics of the narratives, the narrative of each country could be assessed. Combined with the quantitative results from this game, it is concluded that there is potential for an international water footprint reduction agreement, with the United States, Europe, Africa and India as the key players. Shared narratives were observed between North-western Europe, Southern Europe, and the United States on the one hand; and Russia, India, and China on the other. The first were supportive of an agreement and a global reduction, while the latter were opposed. However, during the negotiations, the position of both India and China shifted towards being more supportive of at least stabilizing their water footprint (with respect to expected population rise). It seems, therefore, that the main initiative for the negotiations should come from Europe or the United States, and that China and India are the bystanders that should be convinced to become supporters. Nevertheless, it would be recommended to test the Negotiation Game several times more to draw any definitive conclusions.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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