Here's what we've been up to lately:

Raising the bar on responsible community engagement with Chile's salmon farmers

CBI Senior Mediator and Director of Latin America Practice David Plumb is working on a multi-year process to support constructive, meaningful dialogue between communities in southern Chile and salmon farmers. The initiative started with a partnership between World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and Rabobank, a Dutch-based bank and major lender to Chile’s $4.7 billion salmon industry. WWF and Rabobank asked CBI to develop a toolkit and guidelines for responsible community engagement. The guidelines prompted nine of the country’s largest salmon producers to form a working group to implement the approach, which offers specific steps for enabling more transparent and participatory dialogue with communities around the socio-environmental impacts of the industry, as well as its contribution to development in the region. After a year of shared learning, the companies signed a 10-point commitment statement that includes forward-looking practices such as participatory monitoring. Companies, for the first time, are working collaboratively on pilot initiatives this year.


Facilitating new civil society representation on the EITI International Board

CBI has continued its work with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard and multi-stakeholder partnership to promote open and accountable management of oil, gas, and mineral resources. In 2018, CBI Senior Mediator Michele Ferenz facilitated the development of new Guidelines governing how the more than 500 EITI member civil society organizations (CSOs) from across the world work together in an inclusive and efficacious manner to promote their agenda and voice at the global level. Key to this effort is effective representation at the EITI’s international Board, which comprises governments, the private sector, and civil society. In 2019, the civil society constituency re-engaged CBI to facilitate the selection process for new civil society Board members. Senior Mediator Michael Brown supported the creation of a new institutional structure, the Civil Society Advisory Group (CSAG), comprised of elected civil society representatives from each of EITI’s six geographic regions, two representatives of international non-governmental organizations, and two former/outgoing EITI board members. Michele, Junior Associate Sofia Soto-Reyes, and Project Support Coordinator Maggie Osthues then provided analytical, coordination, and communications support (via a dedicated page on the CBI website) to the CSAG in their assessment of more than 60 applications. The 10 new CSO representatives, officially instated on June 17, 2019 for a three-year term, are well-positioned to support EITI’s effort to strengthen public and corporate governance, promote understanding of natural resource management, and provide data to inform and drive reforms to curb corruption and improve accountability.

Photo credit: Clara Sanchiz, CC BY-SA 2.0


Facilitating public engagement for West Virginia's education reform efforts

In the wake of a failed education reform bill in early 2019, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) sought CBI Senior Mediator and Associate Managing Director Stacie Smith’s support to meaningfully engage a broad range of citizens’ voices as the state considers how best to improve its public education system. CBI helped design and facilitate eight widely-attended education forums across the state (approximately 1,600 attendees total), at which citizens were invited to openly share their perspectives on a set of key issues in small groups. WVDE then synthesized the public input and highlighted recommendations, many of which were integrated into new legislative proposals.  West Virginia’s special session on education betterment ended on June 19th with the senate passing a new education reform package that responded to many of the concerns and requests raised in the sessions.


Training PJM leadership on conflict management

CBI developed and conducted a new training to advance PJM senior leaders’ self-awareness about how they respond to conflict and give them an opportunity to practice a new, challenging conflict management skill as part of an intensive coaching session.  This training was developed by CBI Senior Associate Toby Berkman and Bob Bordone, founder of the Harvard Law School Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program, for PJM, a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity across multiple states. CBI has worked with PJM for a number of years, helping to redesign PJM’s stakeholder process and develop an effective capacity building program for PJM facilitators and leaders. This year’s training began with a 360-degree assessment, with each leader completing a self-assessment and then nominating individuals to assess their conflict management tendencies. Each leader then identified a skill to work on confidentially with colleagues and an instructor in an intensive, recorded coaching session, which involved various role-play scenarios and a video review. In developing this training with CBI, PJM aspired to provide its leaders with a deeply personal and individually-tailored professional development experience, helping them to grow as organizational leaders and as people.  


Convening a discussion on the governance of political speech on social media platforms

In February 2019, with support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, CBI Managing Director David Fairman and CBI Senior Associate Toby Berkman convened a multi-stakeholder dialogue to discuss the governance of political speech on social media platforms with academic, policy, and technical experts. The session focused on disinformation and dangerous speech – speech that can cause or incite violence and harm.  Discussion centered on how political speech on social media platforms is currently governed and how it can be improved, attempting to answer the question: “How can social media platforms, governments, news and information media, and diverse civil society advocates collaborate to limit disinformation and dangerous speech on social media platforms, while protecting freedom of expression?” Participants suggested multiple practical ideas for addressing existing governance issues and explored the potential for a collaborative, multi-stakeholder governance model. CBI intends to remain engaged, in order to advance ideas that were generated at this summit through further convenings with social media and political speech stakeholders. Read the final meeting report here.

Photo credit: Designed by Freepik


Helping California research program unearth innovative breast cancer prevention research ideas

With support from CBI, the California Breast Cancer Research Program (CBCRP) hosted a live-streamed, standing room only event on May 15 in San Francisco at which ten finalists in the Global Challenge to Prevent Breast Cancer presented their prevention research ideas and competed for two grand prizes. The event, developed by Kristi Kienholz, CBI’s Director of Communications, and CBCRP’s staff with support from Senior Associate Julia Golomb, can be viewed at: The Global Challenge is part of CBCRP’s five-year effort to uncover and fund innovative research ideas for preventing breast cancer. CBI has been serving as the principal consultant to CBCRP on this project. Over the next several years, Senior Mediator Gina Bartlett and Senior Associate Laura Sneeringer will facilitate the meetings and work of the project’s Steering Committee that will determine how $20 million in grant funding will be disseminated in California for breast cancer research. The Steering Committee will integrate ideas generated in the Global Challenge into funding priorities for research to eliminate breast cancer.


Facilitating a dialogue on new pathways to advance innovation at UN OCHA

In March 2019, CBI Managing Director David Fairman facilitated a retreat for the United Nations (UN) Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) senior staff and managers responsible for resource mobilization and partnerships. OCHA has wide-ranging responsibility for supporting the international response to natural disasters and armed conflicts. OCHA plays both an organizing and coordinating role with UN agencies, governments, and NGOs, and a resource mobilization role, raising and distributing pooled funds that can be dispersed quickly and efficiently to meet the highest priority humanitarian needs. OCHA’s leadership is seeking innovative ways to accelerate humanitarian response by creating contingent funds and insurance mechanisms that can be accessed immediately when a crisis unfolds. The challenge for OCHA’s management is to develop these innovative tools while continuing to support the current response system. Using a set of guiding questions that CBI developed in collaboration with OCHA leaders, retreat participants explored the context and mandate for their work, developed several new ideas for advancing innovation while “keeping the trains running,” and identified ways to improve communication and coordination on resource mobilization across OCHA.

Photo credit: Eric Kilby, CC BY-SA 2.0


Please click here to see more content from CBI Reports: Summer 2019.