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 Environmental Evaluations and Planning

Public Consultation


The Issue:

Disagreement over historical and natural resource use has too often escalated into open conflict---something that could have been prevented had culturally- and community-sensitive conflict avoidance and resolution procedures been used in project planning.  Formal recognition of elders’ tribunals, community-based conservation boards and natural resource management councils in project design helps in averting unnecessary conflicts and in mitigating problematic disputes.

The employment of effective tools is very important when addressing land use and land tenure rights, the protection of cultural and archaeological heritage sites, natural habitats and environmentally sensitive areas. The development of effective policies and procedures utilising participatory and consensual approaches in order to resolve disputes equitably is one of IRIS’ areas of expertise.  Furthermore, IRIS has considerable experience working with provincial, national and international legislation requiring public consultation frameworks.
Chad: Public consultation with women’s group.
  Canada: Ski area development consultations with the public.

Some of our clients…

In Canada:
Government of Alberta:
Community Development
Government of British Columbia:  Environmental Assessment Review
Parks Canada
Ski Marmot Basin
The Banff Centre

Canadian International Development Agency
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
Government of Bolivia:  Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible y Medio Ambiente
Government of Chad:  Ministère de L’Environnement et de L’Eau
Government of Egypt:  Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency
Government of Guyana:  Environmental Protection Agency
Government of Zimbabwe:  Ministry of Housing and Local Development 
Liaoning Urban Construction Office, China
Nonthaburi Municipality, Thailand
Oil India Limited
United Nations Department of Technology Co-operation for Development
United Nations Development Programme

The Response:

Alternate dispute resolution (ADR) techniques such as mediation, negotiation and facilitation are increasingly being utilised to arrive at equitable decisions that recognise multi-stakeholder interests. IRIS offers a valuable service in the development of practical ADR models for natural resource and environmental management, which integrate contemporary conflict resolution techniques with traditional methodologies.  This blend of tools respects traditional knowledge as well as the benefits of modern approaches, extracting the best each has to offer with a view to sustainably managing a shrinking natural resource base worldwide. 


Another key area benefiting from ADR modalities is public consultation regarding development and natural resource use.  However, before the public is able to participate meaningfully in the process, training in creative problem-solving and conflict management may be necessary.  This is a service offered by IRIS.  Furthermore, appropriate ADR models need to be developed for resolving intra- and inter-governmental conflicts over resource rights and environmental issues.  Gender issues need to be fully integrated and addressed within a socio-economic and cultural context in order for latent or active disputes to be resolved successfully. 

 Egypt: Confirming common understanding with farmers’ group in Nile Delta.

The Approach:

IRIS advises on multi-party mediation and negotiation frameworks that recognise and respect the differences inherent in aboriginal and non-aboriginal cultures.  The same approach can be utilised with other minority groups, regardless of whether at the local, national or international level.  Potential clients include governments, indigenous peoples, civil society organisations and community-based groups, development agencies, international donors, private industry and industrial associations, in addition to national and regional bodies responsible for resolving environmental and natural resource disputes.

Consulting Services Include:

  • Capacity development and institutional strengthening
  • Mediation training for the prevention and mitigation of disputes
  • Facilitation of public consultations
  • Disaggregated data collection and gender analyses
  • Cross-cultural communication training  
  • Mediation of disputes between indigenous peoples and governments, neighbouring communities, or across borders and jurisdictions
  • Negotiation and drafting of agreements

Other Related Services Include:

  • Project & program impact assessment
  • Policy analysis and development
  • Regulations development
  • Institutional needs assessment
  • Project design & results-based management
  • Monitoring and evaluation
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