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

Developing a comprehensive management approach for the Salinas River

The Monterey County Water Resources Agency recently hired CBI to help develop a holistic, long-term management plan for the Salinas River to address a range of issues, including flood risk, water supply and quality, natural resource conservation, habitat conservation, and endangered species protection. The longest river system in California’s central coast, the Salinas River is home to a world-class agricultural economy. CBI facilitated productive dialogues among diverse interests, coordinated alignment with existing and upcoming planning efforts, and built understanding and support for implementing a long-term, comprehensive management approach for the Salinas River Valley. 

Photo credit: Elery S.OxfordCC BY 2.0


Developing a framework to evaluate green coastal resilience features in New York

As the predictions of sea level rise and stronger storm surge grow more dire with every passing year, coastal property owners and land managers across New York State are increasingly looking for ways to manage flooding risk.  The traditional modes of battling back the water—e.g. bulkheads and sea walls—are fairly well understood, but more nature-based approaches like living shorelines are increasingly touted as a way to reduce risk, while still preserving important ecological systems and access to much-prized waterfronts. CBI is working with a group spearheaded by the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn to devise a statewide monitoring framework to better understand how these “greener” approaches perform - from the shores of Long Island and along the Hudson River to the Great Lakes region upstate. A workable framework requires agreement on what to measure and how, and then a series of pilot projects to test whether the information generated is meaningful enough to gauge the effects of these different shoreline features.  By bringing together diverse stakeholders and regulators from across the state, CBI and its partners hope the results of this effort will create more opportunities to test nature-based approaches statewide.

Photo credit: Dan Miller


Facilitating collective impact toward peace and development in Colombia

CBI is partnering with the Regional Centre for Responsible Business in Colombia (CREER) to facilitate strategic collaboration among three Colombian coal companies operating in an area torn by social and political violence. The companies aim to leave a positive corporate legacy on issues such as security, human rights, regional water management, and climate change. By clarifying areas of strategic alignment and engaging stakeholders on topics common across five impacted communities, the collaboration seeks to transform the companies’ relationships with communities and local government to institutionalize capacity for joint problem-solving.

CBI is making a documentary film focusing on engagement as a means of clarifying core issues, using traditional soup-making (“sanchocho”) as a metaphor for stakeholders to articulate their views on the ingredients for effective dialogue. The film is scheduled to premiere in late March with showings in the Cesar impact region, Bogota, and Washington DC. 

Photo credit: Coal mine, El Cerrejón, CC BY 2.0


Developing systems for safe transit around offshore wind parcels

The rapid acceleration of offshore wind development presents the challenge of providing fishermen and other marine users navigation around and through leased parcels safely and with minimal disruption to their traditional uses. The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), a broad membership-based coalition of fishing industry associations and fishing companies with an interest in improving the compatibility of new offshore development with their businesses, worked with CBI to facilitate a process around this issue.  The goal was to clarify the interests and concerns of diverse actors in the fishing industry, regulating agencies, and wind developers with respect to marine transit through wind sites. CBI and RODA organized and designed two workshops, one in October and one in December 2018, to bring together federal and state agencies, wind developers, and fishermen to explore numerous transit lanes that had been suggested over the last year, to differentiate and study detailed data by fishery and season to identify “factual” lanes, and to explore how the various requirements across fisheries by port, gear type, and season might be met with a “package” set of lanes across all the New England Wind Energy Area leases.  In 2019, federal agencies are expected to take the work completed and advance transit lanes as developers move their permitting forward.



Integrating diverse interests in planning for redevelopment of a hospital campus

CBI recently worked with the town of Medfield, Massachusetts, to help develop a strategic reuse master plan for a former state mental hospital 128-acre campus that the town purchased from the state in 2014. As diverse interests in the community grappled with how to redevelop this large site that was rich with history and communal value, the town hired CBI to build consensus among the Medfield State Hospital Master Planning Committee (MSHMPC). The MSHMPC was tasked with overseeing the development of a plan that would reflect the community’s values while balancing the economic risks inherent in real estate development. The final master plan calls for the development of a new neighborhood that is anchored around a cultural center, preserves open and public space, provides diverse housing options, reuses some historic structures and calls for the construction of new ones, and seeks to do justice to the state hospital’s complex history and legacy. The plan won the Planning Project of the Year award from the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association. 

Photo credit: Medfield State Hospital, CC BY-SA 4.0


Developing recommendations for improved use of mediation for natural resource-related conflicts across Africa

The United Nations Environment Programme recently asked CBI to contribute to a report regarding the improved use of mediation for natural-resource-related conflicts across Africa for high-level discussion by the African Union’s (AU) Panel of the Wise (POW). The POW is one of the critical pillars of the AU’s Peace and Security Architecture, and is comprised of five “highly respected African personalities,” including former heads of state. Mediation and resolution of natural resource-related conflicts are increasingly recognized as critical to peacebuilding across Africa, and in need of priority attention by the international community. In this case, CBI was asked to contribute both substantive expertise in resource mediation and peacebuilding and process facilitation at a meeting in the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa with natural resource experts from across Africa. These efforts resulted in many of the report's recommendations and conclusions, which were presented at the 19th Meeting of the AU’s POW held in Accra, Republic of Ghana, in late October 2018. 



Incorporating community input into Somerville-Tufts partnership agreement

The City of Somerville, Massachusetts, recently hired CBI to gather input from community members about what they would like to see in the next partnership agreement (sometimes referred to as payment in lieu of taxes agreement) between the city and Tufts University. After gathering community input via interviews, surveys and a public workshop, CBI synthesized the results in a report that is available to all and is intended to serve as a source for information and ideas during the upcoming renegotiation of the partnership agreement. In addition to making the case for higher payments from the university, community members identified a range of other priorities, including: Tufts deepening its commitment to helping educate Somerville residents of all ages, finding solutions for housing for Tufts students to alleviate housing pressures in the city, and broadly aligning its planning, climate, and other goals with the city’s.

Photo credit: Eric Kilby, CC BY-SA 2.0


Growing the Climigration Network

In 2015, CBI convened a summit for communities and practitioners to address the difficult topic of how to talk about retreat as an option among tools for climate adaptation. This summit stimulated a wide range of engagement on the topic and led CBI to launch the Climigration Network to advance conversations on retreat. The network has grown and developed, most recently with new leadership from within its ranks, to advance thought leadership regarding retreat and serve as a resource for those seeking solutions to this challenge. CBI continues to support the network and facilitate the work of the new leadership as it works to expand its reach and programming.

Photo credit: NCDOTcommunications, Hurricane Sandy – NC12, CC BY 2.0