Our vision includes promoting understanding, building competence and establishing and testing innovative dialogic practices.
The Problem with Natural Resource Issues
Many natural resource issues are highly complex. The tension that often accompanies these issues negatively influences the quality of communication and trust between stakeholders and often exposes conflicts within participating organisations.
There is often an expectation that these issues have simple one-sided solutions. Complex conflicts, however, can only be managed by following an inclusive, flexible approach. Safe spaces for crucial dialogue must be created to allow stakeholders to express thoughts, ideas and emotions. Creating and facilitating these spaces requires competence based on understanding and experience. There are no set recipes, and each situation requires unique solutions.
Why don’t we resolve this problem?
We don’t get very far with our management of the contentious issues because the thinking we use to resolve problems are often the cause of the problems themselves. Conflicts around water, wildlife, wind power and forests – to name a few – involve people. They cannot be “fixed” with one-sided solutions, not matter how clever the experts are that we involve. These conflicts involve society and these are often the people we ignore when trying to deal with the really complex issues.
What we suggest
Creating space and time to focus on the complexity of the problem and identifying the underlying issues that drive the conflict is a first step. These “boundry spaces” needs to be a safe enough so that difficult issues can be raised and a common way forward can be decided on jointly. The conversations need to be managed by people who have a neutral or independent role. We see our role as one of developing both the spaces for dialogue and the competence to manage the conversation they contain.