Photo of Michael Brown

Michael Brown

Director, Canada Practice and Senior Mediator

Michael Brown is Director of the Consensus Building Institute’s Canada Practice, Professor of Practice in Natural Resource Conflict Mediation at McGill University, and former Senior Mediation Expert in Natural Resource and Land Conflicts for the United Nations Standby Mediation Team. For more than 25 years, he has worked on conflict prevention, mediation, and stakeholder engagement regarding natural resources, land, environmental issues, and matters involving local or indigenous communities. He works on projects and disputes, institutional capacity, systems design, and policy. He has lived and worked internationally for many years, and held numerous leadership and senior advisory positions with the United Nations and other international organizations. His work is focused largely on international and Canadian projects.

Areas of Focus

Michael focuses on the intersection between natural resources, land, collaborative decision-making, and conflict management internationally and within Canada. He designs and manages multi-stakeholder processes and mediations concerning natural resources (extractives, energy, water), environmental issues, and indigenous land claims and governance. He builds conflict prevention/management systems and strategies and provides in-house capacity building to international organizations, government agencies, companies, and civil society actors.

Michael negotiates, facilitates, and supports multi-party negotiations for stakeholder groups at international, national, and local levels. He also provides strategic, programmatic, and policy advice on conflict management regarding individual projects or disputes, broader systemic issues, and matters of governance. He supports policy development for international organizations, governmental agencies, and companies, and undertakes stakeholder assessments and conflict analyses. Michael also works on corporate-community engagement regarding natural resource projects.

He has given more than 50 keynote speeches, lectures, expert presentations, executive training seminars, and workshops at national and international events, mostly at the United Nations, universities, business associations, and community events. He has worked across Canada and in dozens of countries throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Michael speaks English, Spanish, and French. 

Exemplary Projects

  • World Bank Hydroelectric Transmission Line Disputes Assessment and Advice in Nepal
  • Hydroelectric and Mining Conflict Assessment and Advice in Guatemala
  • Ombudsman Model Design to Address Canadian Extractive Companies Working Abroad
  • UN Mediation Guide on Natural Resource Conflicts (Extractives, Land, Water)
  • UN Global Policy Facilitation and Development on Land and Armed Conflict
  • Executive Session Facilitation of Global Experts on the Politics of Extractive Industries 

Clients

The following is a partial list of Michael’s previous clients and current CBI clients:

International Organizations

  • World Bank
  • International Finance Corporation
  • UN Development Programme
  • UN Peace Missions
  • UN Department of Political Affairs, Mediation Support Unit
  • UN Environment Programme
  • UN-Habitat
  • U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Swisspeace
  • Numerous Government Agencies through the UN (in Latin America, Asia and Africa)

Government Agencies in Canada

  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment
  • Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat
  • BC Ministry of the Environment

Indigenous Organizations

  • Inuit Circumpolar Conference
  • Makivik Corporation
  • Numerous indigenous organizations through the UN (in Latin America and Asia)

Companies

  • Tahoe Resources
  • Associates in Rural Development (now Tetra Tech)
  • Management Systems International
  • TERA Environmental Consultants Ltd.

Universities and Think Tanks

  • Columbia University, Columbia Centre for Sustainable Investment
  • McGill University, Institute for the Study of International Development
  • Mineral Exploration Research Institute

Education and Affiliations

Michael is a senior mediator on the rosters at the United Nations (Department of Political Affairs) and the Canadian National Energy Board, a certified mediator in Canada (Québec), and a Member of the Environment and Land Use Committee of Quebec’s Institute for Arbitration and Mediation. He is an Associate Member of the Centre for Legal Pluralism and Human Rights at the Faculty of Law at McGill University. He holds a J.D. from the University of Victoria and a B.Sc. (First Class Honours) in Physical Geography from McGill University. Michael was called to the Bar as a lawyer in Ontario, but is not currently a practicing member. 

Books and Articles

Michael has authored more than 70 professional reports and academic publications including: