April 4, 2017

Sometimes designing a legitimate dispute resolution process requires examining both company responsibilities as well as deeper structural problems given the country and operational context. No easy thread to tie.

February 6, 2017

In California, where I live, rarely a week goes by when the headlines aren’t putting a magnifying glass on the climate shifts in the West and their impact on our natural resources and people. We face stressed natural resources – and a series of heated debates among citizens, government, industry, and environmentalists about how we should allocate our scarce resources. Because of conflicting stakeholder perspectives, agencies do what they can with the information they have and often find themselves in gridlock, unable to define a clear path forward that won’t face strong opposition.

October 13, 2016

Consider editing a major planning document with 5 federal agencies, 3 agencies each in 6 states, 15 non-profit organizations, three to four layers each. That equals ninety commenters and thousands of comments over multiple drafts. That’s any author’s nightmare! Comments come in late. Multiple commenters from a single agency contradict one another. A new high-level commenter suddenly demands a host of changes without any context, history, or understanding of why you are where you are. This is the reality for many planners, coordinators, and technical writers in multi-stakeholder processes.

February 5, 2016

Across mineral rich and developing regions of the world, substantial natural resource wealth rests with Indigenous and tribal communities. And yet, throughout the world, Indigenous Peoples have historically suffered disproportionately from negative impacts of extractive activities in their territories: : lack of consent, control, recognition, and benefit, and even outright theft and violence.

January 6, 2016

Henrik Selin, Associate Professor, and Adil Najam, Dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, contributed a great piece to The Coversation last month on the key takeaways from the new Paris Agreement. 

At 7:27 pm local time Saturday, December 12th, 2015, a new Paris Agreement on global climate change was born after four years of taxing labor. Its much-anticipated birth was quickly followed by copious self-congratulations by many of the parents in the room who almost all were overcome by joy and bursting with pride.

September 17, 2015

As California continues to face pressing issues of water management, the creation of a groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) looms ahead. Senior Mediator Gina Bartlett, who has been arms-deep in the creation process, contributed a post today for the Groundwater Act blog on building consensus. A snippet of that blog post is included below:

August 24, 2015

We've spent far too much time thinking about the global causes of climate change, and not nearly enough worrying about the local impacts that climate change is already having on coastal communities. The distinction is important. Most of the people pushing for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are environmentalists or experts worried about future generations.

August 6, 2015

This post originally appeared on CBI Founder and Chief Knowledge Officer Larry Susskind's blog, The Consensus Building Approach.

April 22, 2015

In 2014, CBI and Casa de la Paz, a Chilean partner organization, jointly mediated a conflict between a major Chilean forestry company and a small community located next to one of the company’s plantations. The process began after the community requested our help in addressing a range of concerns about the company’s activities, and the company agreed to engage in a dialogue process.

The community’s primary concerns included:

March 7, 2014

As the world shrinks before our eyes, common questions thread through conversations about the next 20 years: how to feed us all, how to manage our water supply, and how to ensure we can power our ever-changing planet. With the urgency increasing every day and the unpredictable impacts of climate change looming on the horizon, including women in conversations about how to tackle these issues will be critical to creating durable solutions and novel approaches to complex problems. 

January 8, 2014

Brand new technologies emerge each year across every sector, many of which could profoundly impact the shape of public discourse. These new resources – from Twitter feeds and online meetings to complex software that can map out potential agreements from a set of positions – have the potential to create an exciting world where vast quantities of information are more available than ever before. 

February 6, 2014

With each day, hour, and minute, our world’s population continues to grow. Beyond the numbers game of a burgeoning headcount, consumption patterns continue on the up-and-up, not only in wealthy nations, but in developing nations as well.

The dichotomy of starvation and overconsumption looms above any conversation about food on our planet today. The consumption of cheap, fast food and prevalence of unhealthy eating habits have led to rising obesity rates and other diseases in the countries of the rich, while food insecurity and malnutrition continue to plague the poor across the world. Famine remains a common and devastating occurrence. Two very different situations, yes, but they are linked in the discussion of global strategies for food.

February 21, 2014

Energy fuels modern economies – both literally and figuratively. Securing affordable, reliable, and clean energy has become a hallmark of successful economic development. Despite agreement on what makes energy system sustainable, debate remains about how to deal with the complicated trade offs between cost and environmental impact; between regulation to ensure reliability and allowing individual choice; and among national, state and local decision-making on energy policies, regulations, infrastructure investments, and facility siting. These decisions are difficult ones, and the stakes have only gotten higher in the face of growing demand for energy and the increasingly noticeable impacts of climate change.

January 23, 2014

Fresh water nourishes crops, hydrates rural and urban populations alike, and generates energy in countries around the world. Streams and rivers provide natural transportation routes for huge volumes of local and international trade, connecting town-to-town and nation-to-nation.

Our oceans are not only rife with aquatic habitats and fish, but are also home to increasingly valuable sources of energy in the forms of offshore oil, wind, and gas. As we invent new ways to use our ocean resources, the number of competing interests multiplies and the factors determining how we prioritize these resources roll and shift under our feet.

August 2, 2013

"My job is to listen, and to encourage others to be excellent listeners." Mil Niepold discusses four key elements that create and maintain a strong verification system.

June 20, 2013

Land use disputes are increasingly taking up our time and producing unsatisfying results. A new approach to resolving conflict based on mutual gains may provide a better way to manage the most challenging situations.

March 28, 2013

A “Devising Seminar” can help parties in conflict imagine (or devise) a set of alternatives or options that could help address complex situations with multi-sectoral interests.

March 27, 2013

Este foro se llama un "Seminario Elaborador" (“Devising Seminar”) - un término con raíces históricas en una variedad de actividades facilitadas en los últimos años por afiliados al Programa de Negociación de la Universidad de Harvard Law School para ayudar a las partes imaginar (o elaborar) un conjunto de alternativas u opciones que podría ayudar a abordar situaciones complejas con intereses multi-sectoriales.

February 19, 2013

CBI shares 10 components of effective corporate-stakeholder engagement that can be applied to a variety of scales and particular problem-sets.

February 18, 2013

A través de nuestra participación como diseñadores de procesos, facilitadores y capacitadores en este esfuerzo, el Consensus Building Institute (CBI) ha identificado 10 componentes para lograr un involucramiento de actores efectivo entre empresa y comunidad que se pueden aplicar a una variedad de escalas y problemas en particular.

February 12, 2013

Our work is inherently a partnership. Our clients bring extraordinary insights into...

November 6, 2012

Public officials and corporate leaders have to deal with all kinds of conflict (both internal and external). For some reason, its okay to hire a lawyer if you are facing a lawsuit, but it's not okay to ask for informal problem-solving help before things go from bad to worse. Why is that?

July 10, 2012

Reflections on the past, present, and promise of consensus building.

April 23, 2012

Lawrence Susskind discusses the "ugly truths" of municipal bankruptcy.

May 15, 2012

Corporate Stakeholder Engagement (CSE) provides a new point of entry for those concerned about the social and environmental impacts of mineral extraction.

December 13, 2011

Coastal cities around the world face rising sea levels, but the speed at which the water is rising and nature of the impacts are not clear. Even more unclear, and thus hotly debated, is the question of how any given community should respond.

November 29, 2011

CBI works with senior government officials from across the Middle East and North Africa to explore how they can more effectively prepare domestically for the international stage.

October 27, 2011

When citizens are asked to serve on committees charged with addressing complex problems, what is really being asking of them? And how can we (mediators and public policy facilitators), help them?

October 17, 2011

Climate change poses a range of threats to communities around the world. Despite the strong consensus in the scientific community about the issue, many leaders and citizens remain skeptical. What can communities do now to manage the risks posed by climate change?

May 4, 2011

Sometimes when we offer negotiation training, we learn as much as we teach. And occasionally, what we learn can make us rethink the meaning of our work.

May 4, 2011

After the tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tuc­son, leading figures in both politics and media worried aloud that we are losing our ability to respectfully debate. They argued, from various standpoints, that public discourse has devolved over the last two decades, toward simplistic and divisive charac­terizations of parties, ideas, and issues.

April 14, 2011

A practical list from CBI on the "right way" and the "wrong way" to go about siting wind energy facilities.

January 26, 2011

The EPA’s “National Radon Dialogue”, a voluntary, ongoing forum for conversation and collaboration among the primary stakeholder groups working on radon issues, focuses on increasing public awareness about testing and mitigation in existing homes, and construction of radon-resistant new homes.

September 16, 2010

As Warren Bennis has argued, there may be nothing more important to good leadership than making good decisions, but even experienced negotiators are prone to powerful tendencies that hinder their ability to negotiate better deals.

September 10, 2010

What is organizational capacity? Business journal McKinsey Quarterly defines it as "anything an organization does well that drives meaningful business results." Find out how leaders can implement cost-effective change programs that target both individual competencies and organizational capabilities.

June 14, 2010

The creation of an INPO-like system for off-shore oil and gas would guarantee the safety of oil and gas exploration and operations.

March 17, 2010

What is the best way to learn to negotiate? What is the best way to learn any complex new set of behaviors? Observing effective negotiators in action — via professional video footage — can be an important learning method.

December 2, 2009

When I ask audiences what consensus building means, the most common response is that it involves discussion or debate that leads to some minimal agreement or watered-down compromise. But that’s a far cry from the creative and collaborative efforts and outcomes that I see in our work.

May 4, 2009

Six things an organization can do to rise to the level of ‘world-class’ competence in negotiation.

February 19, 2009

After apologizing at his confirmation hearing, it looks like Timothy Geitner will get a pass on for his failure to report and pay his taxes.

June 2, 2008

It's time to break the rules. Consider this new way to run your meetings, build consensus, and get results.

March 13, 2008

How does the Eliot Spitzer resignation measure up against the five core elements of an effective public apology?

January 31, 2008

A reminder that mediators have an important, but difficult, job in supporting justice, civil society and social capital.

October 25, 2007

While it is easy to say, “accept responsibility and admit mistakes,” it turns out it’s not so clear how to do so. Public apologies present researchers and consultants with a series of interlocking and difficult questions...