This conceptual guide has come a long way and would not have been possible without the help of many people.
The guide was developed within the framework of FAO's Livelihood Support Programme (LSP), which is funded by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID). It builds on previously published training material by the FAO Forestry Policy and Planning Division (FONP) on community-based forest resource conflict management, which the LSP field-tested in Ghana. Experiences of trainers, trainees and coordinators of the programme were reviewed after almost two years of training and application of tools and techniques in the field.
Taking into account the lessons learned from the field, it has been decided to reorient the earlier training material towards:
1. integration of conflict management into the broad framework of collaborative natural resource management and the concept of sustainable rural livelihoods; conflict management is embedded in a number of processes that help establish and maintain mutually agreeable principles and practices for managing natural resources;
2. emphasis on stakeholders' choice in conflict management options, but a clear focus on a practical step-by-step description of how to establish and mediate a process of consensual negotiations to manage conflict and build collaboration among multistakeholder groups;
3. acknowledgment of the cultural and social dimensions of different negotiation and mediation styles to allow for flexible, situation-specific adaptation of the negotiation process for worldwide application.
A basic premise of Negotiation and mediation techniques for natural resource management is the acknowledgement of the immense diversity of social/cultural characteristics and interests among people managing the use of lands, forests, marine areas and their products. Under such circumstances, conflicts are often unavoidable, but the guide demonstrates how the principles and tools of negotiation and mediation can be used to promote positive social change and to manage conflict in such a way that the destructive consequences often associated with the escalation of conflicts can be prevented.