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. The conflict escalates, our resources languish, key constituents become frustrated, and the public blames government.
There is a different way forward, one that I have used with great success in challenging natural resource debates. This process starts by generating a comprehensive understanding of the problem by conducting an assessment -- interviewing all key parties to determine their concerns and what they think needs to be addressed. This assessment helps level the playing field by ensuring that all important issues are on the table for examination.