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Game simulates environmental treaty negotiations

MIT researchers led by Professor Lawrence Susskind of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning have developed a game that will allow students to experience the dynamics of global environmental treaty negotiations. Several groups of diplomats have also played the game in an effort to anticipate the difficulties they are likely to face whenever they enter a new set of global environmental treaty negotiations.

Called The Global Management of Organochlorine, the game focuses on the issues involved in possibly discontinuing production of certain chlorine-based chemicals. It involves 12 players representing eight countries (four from the industrialized world and four from the developing world) and four nongovernmental organizations who come together at the urging of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to help draft a preliminary treaty that would phase out selected organochlorides. The game provides detailed scientific and political "briefing books" for each player and requires that they carefully consider ways in which various treaty regimes might be financed.

The game is scheduled to be played at the United Nations, at UNEP in Geneva, and in conjunction with a meeting sponsored by the MIT Chlorine Project in June. It will soon be available to the public through the Program on Negotiation at Harvard (617) 495-1684, x570.

The work is funded by the MIT Chlorine Project, which is studying the risks associated with various organochlorides, as well as the possibility of substituting other less risky compounds and technologies without adversely affecting the many industries that depend on chlorine.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 1, 1996.

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