Supporting stakeholders in advancing progress toward New York State’s 2030 renewable energy goal 

Senior Mediator Catherine Morris, with support from Junior Associate Osamu Kumasaka, designed and facilitated a 12-month dialogue among the 23 members of the Renewables on the Ground Roundtable, a group brought together by The Nature Conservancy and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York to help the state meet new renewable energy targets. By 2030, New York’s electricity consumers are expected to obtain 50 percent of their power from renewable sources, doubling the amount of renewable generation over 13 years. Participants worked together to: improve state permitting and siting processes for renewable projects and clean energy transmission, rationalize a system for negotiating property taxes acceptable to both developers and local authorities, preserve productive agricultural land, provide resources to local governments so they can be effective partners, and identify opportunities to advance environmental justice. The Roundtable’s final report was published this fall.

Bringing clarity to a Clean Water Act permitting process 

Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) is authorized to oversee permitting related to dredging and filing of wetlands. To help with the management of this permitting process, the EPA convened the Assumable Waters Subcommittee. Over the past 18 months, CBI Managing Director Pat Field has designed and facilitated a process among the 22 members of the subcommittee to advise the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology on whether states or Tribes can assume Section 404 permitting authority from ACE and develop recommendations regarding waters in their jurisdictions. The subcommittee worked together collaboratively to address a complex set of issues across wetlands that differ by context and geography. The subcommittee reached consensus on two final options for determining when states and Tribes could take over permitting, which they included in their report. This report was written by an editorial committee of the group and released in June 2017.

Employing Human Ecology Mapping to develop Browns Canyon Monument management plan 

After President Obama conferred National Monument status on Browns Canyon in Colorado, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management, which jointly manage the canyon, engaged CBI’s Senior Mediator Gina Bartlett to identify stakeholders and assess the public’s values, interests, and concerns related to the national monument. As part of the identification process, CBI used software to create a visual network map of stakeholders by geography and interest group. Senior Associate Ryan Golten and Associate Julia Golomb facilitated listening sessions in which the USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, used a method called Human Ecology Mapping, linking social and spatial data to inform planning and decision-making. CBI co-authored a report on the assessment and crafted best practices to blend the stakeholder situation assessment with the Human Ecology Mapping process. The data will inform development of a national monument management plan, and the agencies hope to use this approach for future planning processes.

Protecting Tribal wetlands in the Rocky Mountains and arid Southwest

 In October, Senior Mediator Doug Thompson and Lucy Moore, of Lucy Moore Associates, with support from Project Support Coordinator Dory Dinoto, facilitated a workshop designed to explore options for protecting wetlands and other aquatic resources in Indian Country. Seventy-two representatives from 45 Tribes in the arid Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions, federal and state government staff, and other stakeholders attended the workshop. In addition to information sharing, this workshop sought to explore interest in and the feasibility of increased intertribal cooperation aimed at increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of aquatic resource protection. The group generated several possibilities of how they might collaborate to address Tribal needs, including joint grant applications, multi-Tribal efforts to control invasive species, and establishing cross-training programs.

Reimagining LA County’s transportation future 

Senior Mediator Gina Bartlett facilitated three workshops with 16 executives of the LA County Transportation Agency focusing on the agency’s strategic future for the next 10 years. California’s Los Angeles County faces unprecedented population growth, as well as housing and transportation challenges. More than 9.6 million people—nearly one-third of the state’s residents—live, work, and play within the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 1,433-square-mile service area. Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation is working with the Board of Directors, staff, and the larger community to define goals and identify opportunities to ensure that Metro adapts to the changing needs of LA County residents.

Applying Silicon Valley innovation to industry automation 

Senior Associate Toby Berkman recently facilitated SUMMIT.AHEAD., a gathering of innovative “policy entrepreneurs” aimed at exploring how combining policies, technology, and human capital can generate new opportunities for the workforce of the future. Convened by the nonprofit Forum280, for whom Managing Director David Fairman is an advisor, this workshop sought to leverage Silicon Valley know-how to generate solutions to the challenges created by worker disenfranchisement and automation. CBI was asked to design and facilitate an agenda that would catalyze creative thinking, and result in actionable project ideas to help workers vulnerable to automation develop viable skills in the new economy. At the close of the two-day workshop, participants pledged to pursue two initiatives. The first was “Rolling Education,” an audio-based continuing education curriculum for truckers, which will create targeted, audio-based learning and skill-building opportunities for truckers to listen to while on the road. The second, “Your Future Roadshow,” will be a traveling technology road show designed to inspire youth in marginalized communities and expose them to the newest technologies, jobs, and skill-building opportunities.

Working to develop a better U.S. budget process 

Over the past year, CBI’s partner Convergence and CBI Managing Director Pat Field have been working with stakeholders from a range of sectors to design a new federal budgeting process that will help the country move beyond the stalemates it is experiencing. The group’s discussions built upon a series of roundtable meetings that took place in 2016 and surfaced a range of tensions, such as balancing the investments needed for the future against spending on current needs and how to provide security to older Americans, yet also invest in the next generation. The dialogue over the past year has been productive and action-oriented. The group presented its consensus recommendations at a Hewlett Foundation funded event on the Hill in February 2018. The final report can be found here.

Creating a strategy to accelerate the movement for learner-centered education in the U.S. 

Education Reimagined is a national, multi-stakeholder initiative to transform public education in the U.S. from school- to learner-centered. For the past four years, CBI Managing Director David Fairman has facilitated the work of Education Reimagined’s national Advisory Board and other education leaders and learners to articulate the learner-centered paradigm, ground it in practice, and expand public and policymaker understanding and demand for this transformative approach. Over the past several months, the Education Reimagined team has developed a three-year strategy centered on a national “year of learning” in 2019. Across the country, Education Reimagined and a network of partner organizations will convene and facilitate more than 500 community dialogues on learner-centered education with educators, parents, learners, business, and local government. If successful, these dialogues will begin to shift both the local and national conversation about the future of education in the U.S., and enroll hundreds of communities in the movement for learner-centered education. CBI will support the design and implementation of the year of learning.

Launching to advance community engagement on adaptation strategies

Recently, CBI’s Senior Associate Carri Hulet, Senior Mediator Bennett Brooks, and Junior Associate Osamu Kumasaka launched In the face of sea level rise, ongoing subsidence, and more frequent and possibly stronger storms, this website was developed to serve as a hub for stakeholders to discuss common challenges and share innovative ideas that make it possible for communities to consider adaptation strategies, including the possibility of managed coastal retreat (relocating away from coasts and shorelines). Many of the concepts presented on the site have been generated by the CBI-hosted Climigration Network, a coalition of individuals from a variety of disciplines who are committed to helping communities and policymakers think proactively about managed retreat, along with other adaptation options. Dedicated to enabling a difficult, yet important conversation about how to move forward, the platform currently hosts a webinar series, generates original blog content, and produces a regular news digest. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has been a critical partner in this work. To join the conversation, click here.

Accelerating development of mini grids to increase access to electricity in Asia and Africa

The World Bank, one of 17 development partners of the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, asked CBI to help design and facilitate three Mini Grid Action Learning Events in Asia and Africa. The 5-day Action Learning Events facilitated by Senior Mediator Catherine Morris provided a forum for exploring challenges that have made universal energy access daunting. Representatives from national governments, public and private utilities, mini grid developers, and multi-lateral development funders and foundations came together to better understand the interventions needed to rapidly scale up mini grid development in rural areas. Among the topics addressed were: how to create workable regulations, find a balance between affordable tariffs and subsidies, build better local capacity and financing options, and share innovative ways to support demand for electricity. Learning events have taken place in Kenya, Nigeria, and Myanmar.

Supporting Chile’s transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy 

In early 2017, Chile established a new Sustainability and Climate Change Agency to help the country accelerate its transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. The Agency asked CBI to guide a participatory process that would give the new organization a strategic focus and strong footing in its initial years. CBI’s Latin America Director David Plumb and a team of Chilean associates convened a multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee and also led conversations with key actors in eight priority sectors of the economy. The process culminated in a recommended vision and core strategies for the Agency, as well as more specific ideas in the eight sectors. The Agency is breaking new ground in orienting its work towards public-private partnerships and dialogue processes that complement the country’s evolving regulation. The Agency also seeks to coordinate government entities that focus on business development and sustainability, to break down current silos and to orient the government’s development initiatives toward its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Rethinking social protection in Malaysia 

Malaysia has made remarkable progress towards poverty reduction over the past decades, but its future is less certain. While demographics and labor markets are shifting dramatically, cultural norms still assume the individual and the extended family will provide care in case of a health or employment crisis, and more than a third of workers are informal. Few Malaysians have enough savings for retirement. The Malaysian government is at an early stage of creating the institutional framework for a strengthened, life-cycle based Social Protection system, consolidating and expanding a fragmented set of programs providing basic income, health care, unemployment, disability and pension coverage. In September 2017, CBI Managing Director David Fairman, Senior Mediator Michele Ferenz, and Senior Associate Toby Berkman, in partnership with the UN System Staff College, designed and facilitated a workshop for more than two dozen government stakeholders to help build a common understanding of changing social protection needs in the country and explore options, opportunities and challenges in strengthening provision. Further training and stakeholder engagement work is planned for 2018.

Building stakeholder engagement and conflict management capacity for the largest palm oil producer in Peru

With the rise of global palm oil demand, Peruvian production is expanding into the Amazon at a rapid rate – faster than any other food commodity. In its wake are significant deforestation pressures and land tenure conflicts, as well as other social impacts. In partnership with The Forest Trust (TFT), CBI’s Director of Corporate-Community Engagement Practice, Merrick Hoben, developed a series of tailored capacity building workshops in stakeholder engagement and conflict resolution for the largest producer in the Andean region, Grupo Palmas (GP). Via joint planning and design with TFT, CBI efficiently paired high-level senior management coaching on GP’s vision for market sustainability with on-the-ground capacity building aimed at community-facing staff regarding their specific ground-level challenges, with direct field testing. Ultimately, from December-January (2017-2018), CBI was able to successfully tailor and deliver its Mutual Gains Approach to Community Engagement to the unique context of GP’s Peruvian operations. In the weeks and months ahead, TFT and CBI will go further by applying shared learning to ongoing work in Peru and the Andean region at large. CBI will also produce short video segments (based on film from the field) that show the value and impact of this hands-on approach to building excellence in social engagement – for both companies and communities.


Proto credits: F&E by Raymond Clarke licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Palm oil fruit by CIFOR licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.