Best Practices

Public dispute resolution methods and strategies continue to evolve. In the 1980’s, professional mediators first turned their attention to environmental and land use disputes. It was unusual for public agencies, either before, during or after they made regulatory decisions to involve the full range of stakeholders in efforts to generate agreement or resolve disagreements. Forty years later, it is quite common for regulatory agencies, or even developers before they submit formal proposals for regulatory review, to seek the involvement of facilitators or mediators who can assist stakeholders in generating shared proposals or formulating mutual gain agreements. Such efforts are usually preceded by the preparation of a stakeholder assessment (during which professional “neutrals” interview potential stakeholders (confidentially and not-for-attribution to help produce (1) a list of stakeholder groups which should be invited to designate participants, (2) proposed ground rules and an agenda, (3) joint fact finding procedures, and (4) a timetable that all parties can accept. Best practice now includes a wide range of online methods (even before the COVID-19 pandemic) as well as numerous hybrid forms of consensus building and dispute resolution. The array of individuals working in the public dispute resolution field continues to expand.