Mediation in the Field: Yes, but How?
Many of GRET’s development projects imply social changes and require consultation or even mediation among the various actors. Philippe Barret, agronomist and certified environmental mediator, spoke on this subject at GRET during a BistrO, the monthly talks organized at the Jardin Tropical de Paris.
Territorial dialogue is a major stake allowing various actors to reach a compromise together. Taking as an example a conflict around the implantation of 40 wind turbines in two communities in communes where the elected officials and wind developer had to face a strongly opposed segment of the population, Philippe Barret discussed the principles of mediation in the field.
Mediation is only begun if one perceives a willingness to negotiate in both parties. The mediator has a neutral position throughout the entire process and acts as a bridge between the two sides. The difficulty is earning the trust of both parties by proving that one is neutral: listen actively and encourage mutual understanding. Both sides must see the mediator as credible and legitimate. Establishing a framework and specific system in advance is crucial. For example, the work must not continue during the negotiations. Four main principles were set forth:
- Propose prior bilateral interviews to be able to identify each party’s needs and fears, and above all establish trusting relationships between the mediator and the various parties involved.
- Foster information and consultation: reality of the project, dialogue to avoid division, means, maneuvering room. Public meetings will provide the population with the necessary information and gather perceptions, questions and suggestions.
- Set up working groups with a fair composition to enable mutual understanding and co-elaboration of solutions.
- Publicly communicate progress: let the population know how the negotiations are advancing, through office hours and meetings.
Interview with Philippe Barret
Watch the interview with Philippe Barret
Watch Philippe Barret’s presentation of the wind turbine project