Conflicts frequently arise over environmental issues such as land use, natural resource management, and laws and regulation, emerging from diverging interests and values among stakeholders. This book is a primer on causes of and solutions to such conflicts. It provides a foundational overview of the theory and practice of collaborative approaches to managing environmental disputes.
Joshua D. Fisher explains the core concepts in collaborative conflict management and presents a clear, practical, and implementable framework for understanding and responding to environmental disputes. He details strategies to bring stakeholders together in pursuit of collective solutions, emphasizing ongoing processes of dialogue, analysis, action, and learning. This collaborative approach can create new opportunities for stakeholders to better understand each other and the natural world, which enables more effective and context-appropriate environmental governance. The primer examines why and how system dynamics can constrain or expand the possibility of constructive management of conflicts. It features a case study from the Amazon Basin, where local communities, extractive industry operators, conservationists, and land managers have often clashed over access to natural resources, drawing out lessons to illustrate how to adapt the conflict management framework to distinct contexts.
Managing Environmental Conflict synthesizes knowledge, methods, and practices spanning consensus building, collaborative governance, complex adaptive systems science, environmental conflict resolution, and environmental peacebuilding. Its presentation of this important and timely topic will be invaluable for academics and practitioners alike, including decision-makers, scientists, and conflict management professionals.
1. The Case for Collaborative Environmental Conflict Management
2. Foundations of Environmental Conflict
3. Wicked Systems
4. Collaborative Dynamics
5. Collaborative Environmental Conflict Management: An Integrative Framework
6. Collaborative Environmental Conflict Management in Protected Area Management
7. Collaborative Environmental Conflict Management Practice
8. The Road Ahead
Appendix A. Illustrative Tools for Implementing CECM Processes
Appendix B. Supplemental Information on Chapter 6 Case Study
Joshua D. Fisher is a research scientist at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, where he is also the director of the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity. He is also a specially appointed professor at Hiroshima University’s Network for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability. He works with public, private, and nonprofit partners to develop conflict-sensitive approaches to land-use planning and natural resource management and has worked in environmental management around the globe, including in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific region, and on public lands in the western United States.
"For a future filled with conflicts over land, water, and climate, Fisher's clear description of the theory and practice of managing these wicked problems provides an essential roadmap. Environmental conflicts are difficult but not impossible to resolve, if one approaches them based on an understanding of complexity in social-ecological systems and collaborative relationship building. A must-read primer for anyone entangled in messy, multi-stakeholder environmental peacebuilding."
– Ruth DeFries, cofounding dean, Columbia Climate School, and author of What Would Nature Do? A Guide for Our Uncertain Times
"Fisher explains why conflict is inevitable but still contributes to almost all collaborative environmental problem solving. He outlines a pragmatic approach called collaborative environmental conflict management (CECM). Notwithstanding political power differences, as well as the many constraints imposed by complex institutional architectures, he shows why there are many opportunities for reflective practitioners to assist stakeholders who want to resolve their differences in sustainable and just ways."
– Lawrence Susskind, Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and founder of the Consensus Building Institute
"Managing Environmental Conflict offers a clear, comprehensive discussion of the range of conflicts involving natural resources and an insightful framework for how to implement CECM. Fisher is concise, brief, and provocative, proposing a new way of thinking in the environmental peacebuilding field."
– Janet Edmond, senior director for peace and development partnerships in the Center for Environment and Peace, Conservation International