Description of Services
The U.S. Institute provides a range of services to help parties prevent, manage and resolve environmental conflicts involving the
federal government. Our most commonly requested environmental conflict resolution (ECR) services include:
- Advice on whether ECR is appropriate in a given situation,
- Connecting parties with qualified mediators or facilitators,
- Analyzing conflicts and designing conflict management strategies,
- Bringing parties to the table and mediating environmental disputes, and
- Training to increase the ability of parties to manage conflict.
Through these services, the U.S. Institute is able to tailor the assistance it provides to parties. For example, for some conflicts
parties may simply want help selecting a qualified mediator; for other cases, the institutional neutrality of the U.S. Institute can
be instrumental in bringing parties together and guiding them through a conflict resolution process. The U.S. Institute can help at
any stage of a conflict.
The following is a directory of our services:
The U.S. Institute's staff is available to talk with federal agencies and other parties about the possibility of using a
collaborative process to prevent, manage or resolve an environmental conflict involving the federal government. Up to three
hours of case consultation services are available free of charge. Consultations give parties the opportunity to explore whether
a collaborative approach may be appropriate. During consultations parties also learn how they might work directly with the U.S.
Institute or connect with a mediator or facilitator from the private sector.
The U.S. Institute's small professional staff accomplishes most of its work through partnering and subcontracting with
private-sector mediators and facilitators. The U.S. Institute primarily partners with members of the U.S. Institute's nationally
recognized roster of over 300 highly skilled private sector mediator/facilitators. This national roster is available online to
anyone looking for experienced ECR practitioners.
The Native Dispute Resolution Network, a
resource for identifying practitioners to assist in resolving environmental disputes that involve Native
people, is currently not available online. Please contact us for assistance with referrals.
Conflict Assessment and Process Design Guidance
A first formal step in starting a conflict resolution process is typically an assessment. This involves:
- identifying the issues involved in a given situation,
- identifying the parties whose participation is critical,
- educating parties on what a collaborative process entails so that they can make an informed decision about participation,and
- providing guidance on how to structure the actual conflict resolution phase (e.g., the mediation or facilitation).
Generally, on completion of an assessment, a summary report is provided to the parties. The assessment report captures the U.S.
Institute's analysis and recommendations on how best to proceed to solve the conflict at hand.
As an independent federal agency that serves all parties, the U.S. Institute can be instrumental in helping disputing parties
come together to deal with a contentious conflict. Convening services generally involve setting up exploratory meetings of all
affected parties. These meetings are guided by impartial facilitators.
Mediation and Facilitation
Mediations and facilitations are the cornerstone of the U.S. Institute's services.
A mediation is the actual negotiation process between the parties, assisted by the mediator, where "resolution" is the goal.
The third party mediator enhances negotiations between parties to a conflict by improving communication, identifying interests,
and exploring possibilities for a mutually agreeable resolution. The parties remain responsible for negotiating a settlement.
The mediator’s role is to assist the process, and the mediator does not have the power to impose any solution.
Somewhat different from a mediation (where "resolution" is the goal), a facilitation is a collaborative process in which an
impartial third party seeks to assist a group of individuals or parties to constructively discuss complex and potentially
controversial issues, to seek a shared understanding of the issues at hand, and to explore how they might work together to meet
their common goals.
The U.S. Institute's small professional staff is available to provide direct facilitation and mediation services (i.e., using
its own staff), but frequently the U.S. Institute provides these services through contracted private-sector mediators and
The U.S. Institute provides conflict resolution trainings, workshops and informational services around the country. These
sessions include general introductions to ECR, more advanced sessions on using ECR in certain contexts, customized
agency-requested sessions aimed at specific needs, and capacity building efforts integrated into conflict resolution processes.
Representatives of federal, state, and local governments, tribal nations, NGO's, ECR practitioners, environmental advocates,
community-based groups, science and technical experts, environmental and natural resource attorneys, public land managers, and
dispute resolution and consensus-building professionals all benefit from these learning sessions. The ultimate goal of the U.S.
Institute's training services is to help parties prevent, manage and resolve environmental conflicts.
The U.S. Institute staff can help administer or manage any aspect of an ECR process, and the U.S. Institute can pool funds from
different sources to fund an ECR effort. Contract administration and fund management services include: developing scopes of work,
overseeing the selection of contractors, ensuring the completion of deliverables, managing project budgets, and administering
project invoices and payments. When the U.S. Institute takes on a contract management role, it charges an 8 percent fee on
On-Site Programmatic Support Services
The U.S. Institute works with federal agencies to conduct programmatic reviews to determine where conflicts are impairing the
effectiveness of government operations. In addition, the U.S. Institute develops conflict resolution models to help agencies
incorporate ECR to enhance their operations. The U.S. Institute's typically assigns in-house staff to provide these services.