Here's what we've been up to lately:
Building trust and agreement between Chile communities and salmon farmers
In the Chilean town of Ensenada, nestled between snow-capped volcanos and picturesque lakes, community leaders and environmental activists held a signing ceremony in November with a large salmon farming company to mark the successful conclusion of a six-month dialogue process convened to address pollution in a local river caused by farming activity. CBI’s Chile office led the process, helping parties to work constructively and make specific commitments around water quality, participatory monitoring, ongoing studies around the health of the river, and management changes inside the company needed to ensure it could make good on its new commitments. In the words of one of the environmental activists, the dialogue experience marked a "new stage of relations between the actors in the community, with trust building, healing of old histories, dreaming and building together, and learning to live with our differences.”
Building consensus on endangered sea turtles research priorities
The bycatch risk to endangered sea turtles from fishing gear in the U.S. and elsewhere is severe. Changes in fishing nets, hooks, and practices have helped to reduce these entanglements in recent years, but these interactions remain the greatest threat to sea turtle recovery and conservation and more progress is needed. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service asked CBI Senior Mediator Bennett Brooks to design and facilitate a three-day workshop with its managers and researchers from around the country with the goal of identifying top bycatch reduction research priorities for the next five years. The session centered around three main discussions: (1) understanding the breadth of attempted and ongoing bycatch reduction research efforts; (2) sharing each region’s current thinking on what it sees as the most promising bycatch reduction research priorities; and (3) collectively identifying cross-cutting top national research priorities. Using a mix of full group discussions, breakout groups, and ranking exercises, the 20-plus participants reached unanimous consensus on seven top priorities from a list of nearly 25 options under consideration.
Conducting a community assessment for restorative justice
Town officials in Arlington, MA, commissioned an assessment from CBI Managing Director Stacie Smith as part of a multi-step response to a town conflict at the intersection of race, intolerance, and policing. After the media brought to light a series of hateful columns written by a town police officer in the Massachusetts Police Association newsletter, the town placed the officer on administrative leave. Arlington made the decision to engage in a restorative justice process, resulting in a restorative agreement and the officer’s return to work. A number of residents raised concerned about the use of restorative justice in this context, as well as the way the process was implemented and its outcomes. Furthermore, the agreement called for additional community dialogue, and the town sought input on how to advance healing in the community. In this context, CBI conducted a series of small-group interviews with residents who were involved in or highly concerned with the situation, to understand their perspectives on the town's restorative process and identify suggestions for going forward. The final report offers a series of recommendations for how Arlington could come together to repair community trust and increase capacity to respond to such incidents in the future. The recommendations include providing an opportunity for residents to participate in the next steps of the restorative justice process with the police, and collaboratively developing policies and institutional structures to proactively address issues of race and intolerance in the future.
Evaluating local stakeholder engagement in the Climate Investment Funds
For the past 18 months, a team of four CBI staff have been evaluating local stakeholder engagement (LSE) by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). Created in 2008, the CIF is an $8 billion partnership of developed and developing country governments, implemented by the World Bank and four regional multilateral development banks. It invests to support climate resilience, clean energy technologies, access to renewable energy, and sustainable forest conservation in 72 developing countries. CBI was commissioned to evaluate how CIF has engaged local stakeholders in its governance, national investment plans, and investment projects. The CBI team included Managing Director David Fairman, Senior Mediators Catherine Morris and Michele Ferenz, and Senior Associate Toby Berkman, with evaluation partner Andy Rowe. The team created a “theory of change” that highlighted how CIF’s local stakeholders (civil society, business, Indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as local governments) were expected to contribute to its global governance and to planning and implementing CIF investments in developing countries. Next, the team interviewed and surveyed participants in CIF's governance, reviewed a sample of national investment plans and projects across CIF's four thematic areas, and conducted field visits in three countries to speak with local stakeholders.
CBI found that, overall, CIF has innovated in LSE in its governance and investment planning processes. In some cases, CIF has overcome significant obstacles to effective LSE at the national level. The report, which also identified some areas for improvement, will be available on cbi.org in late January 2020.
Identifying best practices for addressing pipeline construction conflicts
The construction of natural gas, oil, and liquids pipelines is a consistent spark of conflict across the U.S., begging the question: "What are 'better' practices in conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution before and during pipeline project construction?" With support from the CBI Board, Managing Director Patrick Field, former Junior Associate Osamu Kumasaka, and project partner Environmental Resources Management (ERM) conducted 28 interviews with diverse stakeholders in the pipeline space - including energy companies, tribes or tribal representatives, construction companies, landowner organizations, regulatory agencies, advocacy groups, community liaisons, and other consultancy organizations - and then convened a multi-stakeholder workshop in Minneapolis, MN, in February 2019. A framework for engaging stakeholders and mitigating conflict during pipeline construction was developed, and five broad areas for improvement were identified, emphasizing the importance of communication and engagement with key stakeholders throughout the construction process, as well as the need to mitigate cultural resource impacts and improve safety and security.
Facilitating public meetings to address health and safety concerns in Georgia
In 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency released the results of its 2014 National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA), which identified ethylene oxide (EtO) as a potential concern in several areas across the country. This included two census tracts in greater Atlanta with elevated cancer risks due to EtO, a cancer-causing gas released during the process of sterilizing medical equipment and other chemical processes. Following a series of online articles about the discovery, and the risks associated with EtO emissions, citizens demanded a public forum to discuss the issue in 2019. CBI Senior Associate Toby Berkman and Junior Associate Sofia Soto Reyes facilitated two public meetings, which combined an open house design with plenary presentations by the EPA and state, and answers to questions posed by citizens in advance of the meeting. The meetings were attended by 1,300 people in person and more than 9,000 online. The meetings highlighted the importance of early and transparent engagement with the public about contentious issues. CBI is continuing to engage with EPA regions across the country to support their community outreach efforts on this topic.
Helping establish a regional science organization for offshore wind and fisheries
Burgeoning offshore wind development along the east coast has raised a number of research questions that cut across sectors, projects, and geographies – from exploring impacts on complex coastal ecosystems and fisheries to developing more standardized monitoring protocols. CBI Managing Director Patrick Field has been facilitating the creation of the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance (ROSA), a collaborative effort to advance regional research and monitoring of fisheries and offshore wind interactions in state and federal waters. Its mission is to increase credible data in the field and bolster understanding of the effects of offshore wind energy development on fisheries. The establishment of this regional science organization builds on CBI's previous joint fact finding work to support science across institutional boundaries and achieve common goals. ROSA has developed an organizational framework that outlines its mission, vision, objectives, scope and activities, and secured operational funds; the organization is currently hiring an executive director and will launch a series of activities in early 2020.
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Energy
Strengthening the negotiating capacity of IUCN's NGO partners
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Netherlands has been collaborating for several years with NGOs around the world to help them negotiate effectively with governments and businesses involved in oil, gas, mining, and plantation agriculture projects. Their joint goal is to minimize environmental and social impacts from large extractive and agribusiness operations and ensure conservation of protected areas. IUCN asked CBI to help its NGO partners in five countries where the challenges and opportunities are particularly complex: Tanzania, Uganda, Benin, Burkina Faso, and the Philippines. CBI Managing Director David Fairman and Senior Mediator Michele Ferenz teamed up to develop highly interactive workshops for 8 to 10 NGO partners in each country. They were joined by regionally-based colleagues Bjay Angeles (Philippines) and Patrick Karani (West Africa). Each workshop included an introduction to Mutual Gains negotiation and consensus building, followed by in-depth work on specific cases with stakeholders from each country. The case work included stakeholder mapping and analysis, review of strategies that had been tried and relationships that had been built, and exploration of ongoing challenges and possible opportunities to shift the dynamic toward joint gains for conservation and sustainable development stakeholders. Feedback from participating NGOs was very positive, and IUCN Netherlands is exploring further opportunities to bring CBI’s collaboration capacity building expertise to bear for its staff and partners around the world.