Environmental ADR

The United States Army recognizes the importance and value of the appropriate use of all types of ADR and collaborative problem solving. Environmental conflicts can present particularly complex problems with serious consequences. Federal government agencies face the challenge of balancing competing public interests and federal agency responsibilities when striving to accomplish national environmental protection and management goals.

To address this challenge, the Army collaborated with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and several other Departments and Agencies to develop “Basic Principles for Agency Engagement in Environmental Conflict Resolution and Collaborative Problem Solving." These efforts culminated on November 28, 2005, when the Director of OMB and the Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued a joint policy memorandum on Environmental Conflict Resolution (ECR).

The “Basic Principles” are Attachment A to the joint policy memorandum. View the Basic Principles (pdf)

This joint policy memorandum required federal departmental and agency leadership to develop strategies to prevent or reduce environmental conflicts, generate opportunities for constructive collaborative problem solving when appropriate, and increase the effective use of ECR and institutional capacity for collaborative problem solving.

ECR can be broadly and simply defined as people and organizations with differing views and interests working together in a systematic and organized way to find workable solutions to shared problems about environmental issues. While ECR usually refers specifically to collaborative processes aided by third-party neutrals, there is a broad array of partnerships, cooperative arrangements, and unassisted negotiations that federal agencies enter into with non-federal entities to manage and implement agency programs and activities. The Army has built programmatic/institutional capacity for both ECR and non-third party assisted collaborative environmental problem-solving processes.

Formal ECR is typically third-party assisted conflict resolution and collaborative problem solving in the context of environmental, public lands, or natural resources issues or conflicts, including matters related to energy, transportation, and land use. The term "ECR" can encompass a range of assisted negotiation processes and applications. These processes directly engage affected interests and agency decision makers in conflict resolution and collaborative problem solving. Multi-issue, multi-party environmental disputes or controversies often take place in high conflict and low trust settings, where the assistance of impartial facilitators or mediators can be instrumental to reaching agreement and resolution. Such disputes range broadly from administrative adjudicatory disputes, to civil judicial disputes, policy/rule disputes, intra- and interagency disputes, as well as disputes with non-federal persons/entities. ECR processes can be applied during a policy development or planning process, or in the context of rulemaking, administrative decision making, enforcement, or litigation and can include conflicts between federal, state, local, tribal, public interest organizations, citizens groups and business and industry where a federal agency has ultimate responsibility for decision-making.

US Army Corps of Engineers

USACE Campaign Plan and Civil Work Strategic Plan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has embraced collaborative approaches to environmental problems through the Campaign Plan and the Civil Work Strategic Plan. Both documents commit the Corps to implement collaborative approaches to effectively solve water resource problems. Within the Plans, the Corps commits to develop and implement collaborative approaches to improve behavior, accelerate organizational change and solve water resource problems. The plans call for a focus on effectively engaging external agencies to blend multiple approaches & analysis methods, to synchronize complementary interagency efforts, and to orchestrate timing of resources to optimize and integrate multi-agency implementable solutions.

USACE Institute for Water Resources Conflict-resolution & Public-participation Center (CPC)

IWR has created a center of expertise on conflict resolution and public participation, the Conflict-resolution & Public-participation Center (CPC).

USACE Civil Works mission must be carried out in collaboration with multiple partners and stakeholders with differing authorities, capabilities and perspectives. USACE understands the value of and need for collaboration, partnering, and public participation in water resources decision making. To that end, the U.S. Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources (IWR) was formed to provide forward looking analysis and research in developing planning methodologies to aid the Civil Works program. IWR is a field operating activity under the supervision of the USACE Director for Civil Works. IWR is the USACE center of expertise for integrated water resources management, and serves as the Corps center of expertise for collaborative planning and environmental conflict resolution. IWR is the USACE lead for multiple national collaborative partnerships and is committed to developing new training instruments, technologies, processes and policies to further USACE’s overall capability in collaborative planning and partnering.

IWR has created a center of expertise on conflict resolution and public participation, the Conflict-resolution & Public-participation Center (CPC). CPC’s mission is to help Corps staff anticipate, prevent, and manage water conflicts, ensuring that the interests of the public are addressed in Corps decision making. The center achieves this mission by developing and expanding the application of collaborative tools to improve water resources decision making.

Key Center tasks include training, research, and application of collaborative process techniques and modeling tools.

Collaborative process techniques include:

  • Collaborative process design (e.g. how to engage different stakeholders during different parts of the planning and decision-making process, meeting formats and structures)
  • Conflict assessment and resolution techniques
  • Decision-making methods

Collaborative modeling tools are developed through the Shared Vision Planning program of the CPC and include:

  • Methods for collaborative simulation and visualization
  • Lessons learned from case studies of collaborative technical analysis
  • Primers on use of technical tools for collaborative evaluation of results and tradeoffs

The CPC has established an extended partnership via a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR), located within the Udall Center at The University of Arizona. U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR) is an independent and impartial federal program with a mission to help people find workable solutions to tough environmental conflicts anywhere in the United States.

The combined resources of USACE IWR and USIECR provide a robust capability for assisting USACE field offices and other government agencies in the resolution of environmental, natural resources and public land conflicts and controversies through facilitated negotiation, mediation, and collaborative problem-solving, including the use of collaborative computer modeling to help solve disputes over water.

U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR)

The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR) was established through the Environmental Policy and Conflict Resolution Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-156), as an independent and impartial federal agency, to assist in the resolution of federal environmental, natural resources and public land conflicts and controversies through facilitated negotiation, mediation, and collaborative problem-solving. The USIECR was created to help increase the appropriate use of environmental conflict resolution (ECR), to promote collaborative problem-solving and decision-making during the design and implementation of federal policies to prevent and reduce the incidence of future environmental disputes, and to increase the appropriate use of environmental conflict resolution and the ability of federal agencies and other parties to engage in ECR effectively.

The USIECR offers free, confidential case consultations, and a host of additional free and fee-for-service offerings, including case consultations, mediator referrals, conflict assessment and process design guidance, convening services, mediation and facilitation, training, contract administration, and on-site programmatic support services.

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