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Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe

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An environmental mediation process usually involves four phases:

Initiation phase

If the stakeholders are willing to take part in an environmental mediation process, and the issue of funding has been taken care of, the search for suitable mediators begins. Mediators are impartial go-betweens who structure and organize the mediation process.

Preparation phase

The stakeholders take a collective decision about the mediators. Next the mediators interview each stakeholder, so as to identify his or her perspective on the conflict and to make sure no one is overlooked by mistake. The mediators then define who will take part in the mediation process, in consultation with the stakeholders.

The next step is to agree the points at issue, to define the goal of the process and to agree a “road map” for the collective procedure. The sequence of events, the subject matter, procedural rules and information policy vis-à-vis the general public are all set out in a written procedural agreement.

Realization phase

From positions to interests: at the start of the negotiations the participants present their positions. The underlying interests and needs are then brought to light with the aid of the mediators. This enables the participants to develop empathy for others’ needs and interests in the course of the process.

Assembling data and facts: the participants collectively identify what additional factual information is needed. This is either obtained from specialists who all the participants accept, or gathered by the participants themselves, and presented in a form intelligible to everyone involved.

Searching for solutions and reaching a decision: the participants (working either in plenum or in small groups) develop suggested solutions which they assess on the basis of collectively agreed criteria. The results are decided on as and when everyone agrees.

Contract and implementation phase

In the mediation contract the results are set out in the form of a binding agreement, and mechanisms are agreed with which to monitor the implementation of the measures decided on and to maintain the flow of information beyond the end of the mediation process.