Climate Change

Logo représentant une feuille d’érable bleue. Sur la feuille d’érable se trouve un ours polaire sur un bout de banquise. Il est spécifié : « Conférence diplomatique sur les changements climatiques, Ottawa, Canada »

Welcome to the Ottawa Diplomatic Conference on Climate Change!

The objective of this summit meeting is to sign an international convention on climate change. Environmental protection is at the heart of our concerns. The adoption of a treaty is a key objective. However, each delegation is motivated by its own considerations. Ideological positions differ and guiding interests diverge. Will delegations be able to reach a common agreement while meeting their individual objectives?

Un groupe d’étudiants et d’étudiantes sont en pleine action et discutent à différentes tables les différentes dispositions du traité.

1: Overview

On this page, you will find the information and material needed to reproduce the Climate Change simulation. Enjoy your reading!

Intended Audience:

Originally created for a group of law students, the interdisciplinary nature of this simulation makes it customizable to all fields. Designed to be completed by participants who are not necessarily trained in the issue of climate change, essential information is provided to them by the organizers.

Recreate the simulation

We are happy to share all the documents created for this simulation in open access. You will find below a complete documentation kit for direct download. It contains tools related to the treaty, the stakeholder profiles, the staging, the preparation and the debriefing of the activity.

If you decide to embark on this adventure, feel free to contact us to discuss it or to give us your feedback!

Les documents de la trousse documentaire sont en désordre sur la table pendant la simulation.

Quick download of the complete climate change simulation kit

Here you can download all the documents from the simulation. In each of the simulation tabs, the documents are also available by theme, if you wish to download a document separately.


2: Creation of the Activity

Learning Outcomes

The development of learning outcomes is essential to the construction of this type of activity. This preliminary reflection guides the choice and implementation of the various tools that articulate the simulation, facilitates the resolution of problems encountered and supports the success of learners.

Here are the main learning outcomes that we have established to develop the Diplomatic Conference on climate change:


After this activity, participants will be able to:


  • Recognize and apply the main legal provisions related to international climate change issues;
  • Handle some general principles of environmental law;
  • Identify and understand the legal dimensions specific to the drafting of a treaty in international environmental law;
  • Use the standard provisions of a convention in international environmental law;
  • Discover the negotiation processes in international environmental law (voting mechanisms, power relations, temporality, etc.).

It is in this sense that we have developed an activity to raise students’ awareness of the interdisciplinary dynamics of negotiating a text in international environmental law, by confronting them with a active and experiential learning environment.

Setup Time

Tableau rempli de notes, de suggestions et d’idées réalisé pendant une semaine de recherche intensive sur la simulation.Preparation beforehand: Although this may seem obvious, we recommend that you plan a few weeks to prepare for the activity. In our experience, the ideal is to allow an intensive week of research and planning. This exercise helps to achieve a thoughtful and structured activity.


Preparation on the day of the activity: The preparation work to be carried out before D-Day is not to be neglected. For example, you will need to find a room adapted to the activity, gather material, prepare hard copies of the files for each group, design the technological media (Twitter feed, logos, images) and of course finalize the main tools (treaties, stakeholder profiles, powers, etc.) Time will be your enemy, be prepared!

3: General Description of the Activity

The text to negotiate: The objective of the activity is to negotiate an international environmental law treaty addressing climate change. This treaty has 12 articles open for negotiation, each containing between 3 and 6 options to be discussed by the participants. The delegations must agree on one option for each article.

Number of participants: This simulation is intended for groups of 6 to 30 players divided into 6 delegations. We recommend keeping a reasonable total number of participants (maximum 30) to facilitate the logistical organization of the activity and exchanges between participants in the classroom. To meet this requirement, several simulation sessions can be organized if there is more than one group. 

Tip! The number of delegations can be adapted by the organizers who wish to do so by creating, for example, new profiles.

A duration of one hour and a half to two hours and a half is required to complete the activity in class. However, it is up to the organizer to adjust the amount of time they wish to devote to the activity.

4: Structure of the Activity

The Diplomatic Conference consists of an individual preparation phase and a classroom activity phase. Here are the different steps:

Instructions: To view the description of each section, please open the tab by clicking on the title of the section you wish to view.

One week before the activity: Individual preparation

48 hours before the classroom negotiation: Deadline

48 hours before the classroom negotiation:

Day of the Activity : Negotiation in the classroom

On the day of the activity, the delegations meet in person.

  • The delegations have a time limit determined by the organizer to reach an agreement (between one and a half to two and a half hours).
  • At the end of the activity, a feedback form is distributed to the participants. Participants may complete this document on site or hand it in on the next meeting. Download the feedback form.

Tip! This « on-the-spot » feedback exercise provides the organizer with a quick feedback, allowing them to make adjustments.

One week after the activity: debriefing session(s)

One week after the activity, one or more sessions may be allotted for a debriefing on the simulation, its execution and its results.

  • This strategy makes it possible to capitalize on the teaching material created during the simulation. The educator can use this content as a basis for articulating their class sessions.
  • Such a strategy creates a link between the students and the material discussed in a session, as they have created the content themselves.
  • In our case, this session consists of a class on climate change in international law, using the topics covered by the treaty under negotiation during the simulation as well as the observations produced by the participants.

5: Rules of the activity

Tip! There are deliberately few and very simple rules to allow participants to understand them easily and to not unnecessarily complicate the activity.

The simulation has two phases:

  1. The preparation for the conference of the parties by each delegation (approximately one week before the negotiation in class).
  2. Classroom negotiation involving all delegations.

Instructions: To view the description of each section, please open the tab by clicking on the title of the section you wish to view.

Rules of phase 1: Preparation of the Diplomatic Conference

Instructions and resources provided to participants

  • Each delegation must define what their preferences are regarding the different options for each article to be negotiated.
  • For each of the articles negotiated, each delegation must select the option that it considers to be best aligned with the view and orientations of its geographical area.

This position is defined in the corresponding area’s profile sheet and in the documents provided by the organizer of the activity. Delegations can also rely on the Stockholm Declaration (1972) and the Rio Declaration (1992).

Preferences and order of preference

  • Each delegation must prioritize its choices. Therefore, every option available should be ranked in order of preference.
  • In their report, delegations only need to justify their first choice for each article under negotiation. It is not necessary to justify other preferences or their order.
  • To present their preferences, each delegation must submit a table to the organizer. This table will allow the professor to prepare for the negotiations in class and to evaluate the delegations’ choices before the day of the activity.

Preparation report

  • To ensure optimal preparation for the activity, each delegation must prepare a report prior to the activity.
  • This document contains their choices for each articles as well as the justification for each of their first choices.
  • This report should not exceed 10 pages.
  • The preliminary report of the delegations can be used as a tool for evaluating students.

Les étudiant.e.s votent un article à main levées.

Rules of phase 2: Classroom negotiation

General Rules

General rules regarding how to adopt a provision of the treaty under negotiation shall be communicated to all participants:

Other information

To keep in mind!

To consider! The rules presented here can be adapted to ensure that the activity runs smoothly and is suitable for all types of audiences. The organizers are free to adapt or supplement the rules according to their needs and preferences.

6: Staging

The three main factors that contribute to an immersive decorum are:

  • The room in which the activity takes place.
  • Technological supports.
  • Material supports.

The Room

The choice of room is essential. Today, we have an easier access to active learning rooms. This type of space is generally perfectly suited for such activities as it strengthens student involvement and commitment. It also provides an environment that foster interactions and problem solving.

Les étudiant.e.s prennent des notes sur le tableau mis à disposition.

There are five characteristics:

  • The room should be different from the usual classroom in order to reinforce the element of surprise and immersion for participants. They are the main actors of a diplomatic conference!
  • The room should be modular so that participants can modify the space;
  • The room should be spacious, allowing students to move around easily;
  • The room should have boards to allow participants to take notes easily and quickly;
  • The room should have technological equipment including, for example television screens, cameras, etc.

Photo de la salle d’apprentissage actif LRP 286 à l’Université d’Ottawa.

Tip! The choice of room may vary depending on the nature of the activity. For example, you may choose a more formal room for the first simulation model (Diplomatic Conference) while a more informal decorum is appropriate for the second (Expert Meeting).

Technological Supports

Technological supports offer opportunities that can improve the success of the activity. They create a unique staging that contributes to the immersion and experience of learners.

In post-simulation assessments, students regularly demand more technological components.

Un groupe d’étudiant.e.s débattent devant deux écrans projetant le logo de la délégation Amérique Latine et un compte à rebours.

Screens and projectors: They allow to “personalize” the room and the activity. For example, they can be used to display the logo of the activity, the logo of the delegations or the negotiated text. They are an asset in terms of contextualization, and they set up, in particular, a certain formalism in the room. There are also numerous active learning rooms with multifunctional screens, which open up many opportunities for innovation.

Un groupe d’étudiant.e.s débattent devant un écran géant affichant le compte à rebours.

Countdown: Displaying a time countdown on one of the giant screens in the room can be a component that helps students immerse themselves (just type “countdown” into Google, enter the desired time and put it on full screen). It establishes a kind of obligation of success for delegations, which seems to contribute to student engagement.

Un groupe d’étudiant.e.s observent le fil Twitter fictif, lequel présente un tweet au contenu bien réel de Donald Trump, indiquant : « The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Oh wait! It’s freezing and snowing in New York, we need global warming! »

Twitter Feed:


Creation: A Twitter feed (based on real or fictional tweets) can contribute to strengthen the staging of the activity. This tool can, for example, be used to trigger special events or to provide – optional – additional information. Several online platforms offer the possibility of creating fake tweets. These can be adapted to a PowerPoint presentation.

Content: In a two-hour simulation, we chose to generate a fake tweet every 5 minutes. This means 20 tweets from the political, journalistic and non-governmental sectors. It was also an opportunity to introduce our events that have an impact on the time remaining. You can download the Twitter feed here.

Tip! The creation of this type of tool allows the organizer to adapt to the course of the activity. The management of Tweets and events offers a certain flexibility.

Material Supports

The material supports contribute to the learning experience by creating an immersive staging and facilitating the course of the activity. In the context of the Diplomatic Conference on climate change, we have created:

  • A logo specific to the activity.
  • A banner (of the advertising type) giving the activity an official appearance.
  • Accreditation badges to identify the members of each delegation.
  • Personalized files for each delegation, containing their respective documents and powers.
  • An opening speech consisting of extracts from the speech delivered by President François Hollande at the opening of the “Leaders’ event at COP21” held in Paris on November 30, 2015.

You can download the files of logos, banners, power cards and accreditation badges by clicking on the icon below.


7: Treaty

Treaties are the key documents for this type of activity. They are also called international conventions. Since they present the content that will be negotiated by the different groups, they are the main documentary source for this exercise. Their design can vary both in form and content.

Form of the treaty

The choice of form has a significant impact on the level of difficulty of the exercise; it could allow you to change the complexity of the activity during a session. Three options are available:

Level 1 – Multiple Choices: Several versions of an article are made available to delegations. They will have to select the one that is the most consistent with their profile. This is the option used for the “Diplomatic Conference” model.

Level 2 – Cloze Test: Some key words or sentences in the articles may be removed. The choice of alternative words or expressions, as well as the justification for this choice, is left to each of the delegations.

Level 3 – Drafting From Scratch: The complete drafting of the articles may be the responsibility of the participants. In this case, the organizer will not have to design a treaty, but rather provide guidelines or a structure. This option, used for the “Expert Meeting” model, implies that the participants have acquired, beforehand, some basic knowledge of international environmental law.

Deux étudiant.e.s en pleine réflexion sur les dispositions du traité.

The content of the treaty

Many thematic options are available for creating the treaty, even when only looking at the field of environmental law: climate change, biodiversity, water management, air quality, waste flow regulation, forest, etc.

Some guidelines helped with the creation of the text for the Diplomatic Conference

  • It is important to determine the number of articles to negotiate based on the time available and the learning outcomes designed.
  • From a pedagogical point of view, it is relevant to produce the content of the treaty on the basis of existing texts (whether ratified or simply discussed). This allows the organizer to discuss the articles during the debriefing sessions.

To keep in mind! In some cases, specific learning outcomes may lead to the create your own provisions.

  • The article options to be negotiated is the result of interpretation by the participants. These different options represent, in a more or less distinct way, the positions of the delegations as determined by their stakeholder profiles.
  • In this simulation model, it is appropriate to allow the negotiation of some of the basic provisions of international environmental law. For example: financing, monitoring and sanctions, entry into force, etc.

Tip! It is useful to design a “master version” of the document to assist the organizer in supervising the activity. This includes the key concepts of each article, the sources of the different options, etc.

Un groupe d’étudiant.e.s débattent du contenu du traité.

You can download the draft agreement that we have developed by clicking on the icon below.


8: Stakeholder Profiles

Many categories of stakeholders can be integrated into simulation-type activities. The choice of these stakeholders depends on four elements:

  1. The learning outcomes established for the activity.
  2. The number of participants and/or the room available.
  3. The playful dimension that the organizers wish to associate with the activity.
  4. The available information, which can be shared with the participants.
The six stakeholder groups of the Diplomatic Conference on Climate Change are regional delegations: Africa, North America, Latin America, Western Asia, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

In this simulation, each delegation represents a specific geographical area. These regional profiles are those defined by the United Nations Environment Programme as part of the Global Environmental Outlook.

Photo des accréditations de la délégation Asie Pacifique.

You can download all stakeholder profiles by clicking on the icon below.


9: Powers

Several strategies can be implemented to make the activity more engaging and immersive. To this end, we have developed two main items:

  1. Special powers specific to each stakeholder.
  2. Events common to all participants during the activity.

These elements are not only playful components; they also aim to simulate specific mechanisms and dynamics present in real international negotiations.



Powers are “disruptive elements” from which each delegation benefits, individually, during the simulation. Several characteristics make up (or can make up) for the nature or use of this game mechanics.

Characteristics of powers:

  • A power is specific to a delegation. Each of them is unique and therefore it is recommended to have as many powers as delegations.
  • A power should not be random and unfounded. It should represent (or simulate) practical and real dynamics.
  • A power should be logically assigned to each group based on stakeholder profiles.
  • A touch of humor is often welcome in the design of powers!

Use of powers:

  • A power can only be used once during the activity.
  • A power may be used at any time during the activity; participants wishing to do so should only inform the chairperson.
  • These powers may be confidential or disclosed to other groups. This choice has the effect of changing the dynamics of the negotiations.

Tip!  A strong power can be attributed to a group with influence. The North American delegation has been given the “Vice Versa” power, which allow to overturn a vote.

To enhance staging and immersion, these powers can be designed and printed on paper. See below for an example of the power cards we use.

La face recto des cartes pouvoir composée du logo de la Conférence diplomatique sur les changements climatiques.

La face verso des cartes pouvoir composée d’une description du pouvoir.

Presentation of the Powers

For the Diplomatic Conference on Climate Change, we developed six different powers because six delegations took part in the activity. The cards we have created include a description of the power and a contextual description of what this power represents in the world of international negotiations.

You can download all the files of the power cards by clicking on the icon below.


10: Group Events


After developing delegation-specific powers and performing the simulation several times, we realized that participants often completed the negotiation within the allotted time. However, time is often running out in international negotiations.

We have therefore developed a mechanism to incorporate uncertainty and chance into the activity. It was also an opportunity to reinforce the playfulness and dynamic aspects of the activity. In this sense, we have created events, unexpected from the participants but shared by all, which unfold progressively throughout the simulation.

Overview of the Events

To learn more about the characteristics and effects of unforeseen events on the simulation process, please open the “Characteristics” tab and the “Effects” tab.



  • The events have negative or positive effects on the groups (e.g. losing or saving time). The concrete nature of these effects depends both on the groups and the time available to carry out the activity.
  • The events are changing the dynamics of the negotiations.

Presentation of the Events

For the Diplomatic Convention on Climate Change, we have developed four separate events.

Instructions: To view the description of each unforeseen event, please open the tab by clicking on the title of the event you wish to view.

Interruption of the meeting due to a demonstration

This event corresponds to a demonstration of associations or non-governmental organizations. The interruption can last from 5 to 10 minutes (decided for example according to a roll of dice). It is then possible either to modify the common countdown or to actually interrupt the session (if the time allows it).

Friday the 13

This event is the introduction of a new article to be negotiated due to pressure put on governments by lobbies. The article introduced must not have been presented to delegations during the preparation phase. However, it must be a relatively simple article and/or offer only a few options to discuss.

Power nap

The purpose of this event is to represent the fatigue present in the long and vigorous negotiations. A 10-minute penalty is imposed to allow delegations time to rest their eyes. Here again, it is possible either to modify the common countdown or to actually interrupt the session (if the time allows it).

Presidential Pardon

This event is a way for the organizers of the activity to allow themselves a little flexibility. This event gives the chairperson of the session the choice to extend the negotiations or not. In our case, and given the potential penalties mentioned above, up to 10 additional minutes of work could be granted.

La présentation PowerPoint annonce l’un des évènements communs à toutes les délégations.

11: Evaluation Template of the Simulation

As part of this simulation, we developed a tool that proves useful after the activity is completed. It is a template for analyzing the final text adopted during the activity and the choices made by the delegations.

Tableau rempli de notes, de suggestions et d’idées réalisé pendant une semaine de recherche intensive sur la simulation.

Details: This tool is for the exclusive use of the organizer and allows them to create data on the activity, to quantify the dynamics resulting from the exercise and to evaluate the participants. To this end, it produces teaching material that can be used in the classroom sessions following the activity. This is the empirical dimension of the simulation.

Three distinct categories make up this evaluation template:

  1. A “choice” score;
  2. A “delegation” score;
  3. A “text” score.

Instructions: To view the description of each score, please open the tab by clicking on the title of the score you wish to view

``Choice`` Score

This score is a reference indicator, which may be used to evaluate the various delegations. It corresponds to the best answer possible according to the stakeholder profile assigned to each group. A decreasing scale of the best solutions by delegation can be established by the organizer who, using this tool, will be able to evaluate the choice made by the participants. The higher the choice score, the more the group was able to identify the characteristics of its delegation.

``Delegation`` Score

This score is determined by the articles actually adopted during the activity and considers whether a delegation is able to have its best options adopted. It is a kind of mechanism for observing the dynamics of negotiations after the event. Thus, the higher the delegation score, the more a group was able to obtain its preferential options.

``Text`` Score

This score is more subjective and needs to be precisely defined. In the context of the Diplomatic Conference on Climate Change, the score of the text corresponds to the real legal capacity of the adopted treaty to protect the environment from the effects of climate change. In this sense, the organizer must define this notion of “environmental protection” in order to be able to give a score to each of the options presented in the agreement.

Environmental protection could in this sense be assessed through the binding nature of the adopted text, the precision of the agreed articles, the use of the principles of international environmental law, etc. In addition to providing a very interesting element of discussion during debriefing, the text score can be linked to the delegation score. Indeed, there is a correlation between the score of the signed treaty and the specific results of the delegations.

For example, if the text score, based on the environmental protection indicator, is low, it means that the text’s ability to contain the effects of climate change will be limited. However, in this case, it is very likely that a delegation, whose interests are not mainly focused on environmental protection, will have a high delegation score. This correlation makes it possible to represent the power relationship expressed during the activity.

 Note: This evaluation template is a theoretical tool and can be modified and improved. If you make such changes feel free to share them with us.

12: Material to download

We have gathered here the entirety of the material to download, subdivided by theme. You can also download all the material at once from the Overview tab.