Achieving effective conflict management
Multiple and integrated phased training programmes have generally proved to be appropriate and effective for skill building. The combination of classroom training and mentor-supported field practice has resulted in effective learning through practice and increased appreciation of the relevance of conflict management to participants’ work in natural resource management. However, the long term effectiveness of skill building training programmes for conflict management depends on a number of critical factors. These include first and foremost careful selection of participants as well as provision ongoing support for conflict management processes by participants’ organisations.
Because conflicts are often characterized by considerable social complexity, managing these processes often call for much effort to build rapport for stakeholder engagement, facilitate negotiations, carefully prepare agreements and assist in the implementation or monitoring of such agreements. Addressing conflicts can be therefore extremely time-consuming, and emotionally draining. Shuttle negotiations, for example, can require substantial resources for meetings, transport, materials and other logistics. To increase the chances that such processes are sustained, it is worthwhile developing a participant selection process that identifies participants who are already helping parties in disputes and have facilitation and field-based experience in conflict management. Ideally, the training group includes participants who are already linked to disputants’ social networks and have credibility with the parties or people in authority who can provide assistance. Such commitment can only occur over an extended period if conflict management is a priority for the trainee’s organization.
Selection of participants
Enhancing the institutionalization of Conflict Management procedures
In conclusion, effective problem solving requires resources and skills, but it depends even more on the commitment of all parties, including decision-makers, to find solutions to problems in natural resources management before those problems grow and escalate. Outcomes of trainings organised and implemented by FAO and partners suggest that a great deal could be achieved in addressing many of the pressing natural resource conflicts with similarly modest, but effectively, deployed investment of resources in training for and logistical support of informal conflict management procedures.