Conceptual and Methodological Advances
Edited by Frank Vanclay and Ana Maria Esteves
Chapter 16: Environmental Conflict Mediation
Rauno Sairinen Introduction Conflicts have long been viewed as undesirable in societal planning and decision making. This has also been the case in environmental matters. The problematic relationship between the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability is increasingly recognized within the environmental policy and impact assessment communities. Environmental conflicts frequently cause severe problems for planning, decision making and legal institutions, private sector developments and local communities. Planning timetables can become very long and expensive, and local communities can suffer from uncertainties and adversarial conditions. Hence, it is not surprising that contemporary planning theories regard conflict as a problem and have introduced methods of reducing conflict (Persson, 2006). However, it is clear that environmental conflicts are here to stay. Society consists of people with differing interests and values, which inevitably lead to various conflicts. However, conflict may also lead to positive outcomes. The target is no longer how to avoid conflict, but how to handle it. Decision making in environmental conflict situations requires a major shift in governance. This entails choices and discussions about anticipation instead of control, societal versus technocratic approaches, collaborative versus hierarchical processes, and communication as mutual learning instead of communication to explain (Sairinen et al., 2010). Looking at the spectrum of available planning and evaluation methods, it is important for planners, managers, engineers and decision makers to know how a chosen method will affect conflict situations. In environmental-related conflicts, the relationship between impact assessment (IA) practices and conflict mediation/resolution is of interest. The complex relationship between...
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