Past Seminar

Resolving Natural Resource Conflicts: RFF First Wednesday Seminar

May 2, 2007 Video

About the Event

Resolving Natural Resource Conflicts: Perspectives on Participatory Management of Common Property Resources
RFF First Wednesday Seminar
May 2, 2007

Communities throughout the world are increasingly involved in the management of local natural resources and the environment. This trend toward participatory decisionmaking introduces challenges and opportunities for practitioners, donors, and analysts. What are the degrees of public involvement? To what extent does public involvement facilitate conflict resolution? What are systems for participatory planning in terms of initiating, implementing, and evaluating results? What are appropriate roles for market mechanisms (such as payment for environmental services and other compensation schemes)? Our panelists shares a range of practical perspectives on these issues.

​Audio and Video
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Phil Sharp, President, RFF

Phil Sharp is president of RFF. His career in public service includes 10 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana and a lengthy tenure on the faculty of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard University.

Phil Sharp

He served as director of the IOP from 1995 to 1998 and again from 2004 until August 2005. Sharp serves on the board of directors of the Energy Foundation, is co-chair of the Energy Board of the Keystone Center, and is a member of the National Research Council's Board of Energy and Environmental Systems. He received his Ph.D. in government from Georgetown University.

Shalini Vajjhala, Fellow, RFF
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Vajjhala studies the social impacts of large-scale physical and economic phenomena. Her work focuses on development and environmental projects with a public participation component, such as population resettlement stemming from dam or highway construction, as well as how siting major facilities, such as electric power lines, affects and is influenced by local communities.

Shalini Vajjhala

Her interests are interdisciplinary and policy-focused and lie at the interface between large-scale technical projects and grassroots decisionmaking and communication. As a result, her research brings together the fields of development planning, risk communication, spatial analysis, natural resource management, and judgment and decisionmaking. Vajjhala has also worked extensively on adapting and integrating participatory mapping methods and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to engage citizen participation.      

Her work has taken her all over the globe, from Lesotho, where she mapped mobility and access patterns of isolated villagers, to India, where she studied resettlement issues, to Pittsburgh, where she was engaged in community planning in low-income neighborhoods. Currently, Vajjhala is interested in environmental justice regulation and its relationship to community-level decisionmaking and risk management. She holds a Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining RFF, she worked as an architect and community organizer, focused on developing sustainable communities, and taught design courses in Pittsburgh.                 

Scott Bode, Natural Resources Advisor,
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Bode's main role is working with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Scott Bode
His interests include agroforestry, community based natural resource management, sustainable agriculture, applied anthropology, agriculture and forestry extension, environmental and land use history, governance and conflict issues. Bode began his career with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone as an agroforestry extension agent. He has worked and consulted in Cape Verde, Cameroon, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Philippines, and India. He served as the Africa Program coordinator for the U.S.-based NGO Trees for the Future. He also worked as a research associate for the U.S. Forest Service in North Carolina, Water Resources Research Institute, and North Carolina State University. He holds a BA in anthropology from Beloit College and an MS in Forestry from North Carolina State University.

Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Senior Research Fellow,
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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Meinzen-Dick is coordinator of the CGIAR's system-wide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi), a research program and network involving 15 international centers and partners at more than 400 other organizations. She is also president-elect of the International Association for the Study of the Commons. Meinzen-Dick is a development sociologist and received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University. Much of her work has been interdisciplinary research on water policy, local organizations, property rights, gender analysis, and the impact of agricultural research on poverty.

Ruth Meinzen-Dick

She has conducted field work in Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and India, where she was born and raised. She has published more than 70 journal articles or book chapters and 11 books or monographs, including Innovation in Natural Resource Management: The Role of Property Rights and Collective Action in Developing Countries; Negotiating Water Rights; and Water Rights Reform.

Gail Bingham, President, RESOLVE

As president of RESOLVE, a nonprofit, public policy consensus-building organization founded in 1977, Bingham is a nationally recognized pioneer in promoting consensus-building in public decisionmaking and is the 2006 winner of the Mary Parker Follett Award of the Association for Conflict Resolution.

Gail Bingham

She has served as a mediator for a wide variety of federal, state, and local agencies and private parties on such diverse subjects as children’s health, federal drinking water regulations, national wetlands policy, coastal and ocean resources, water quality and water rights, public lands management, endangered species, infrastructure costs for water and wastewater utilities, groundwater protection, hydro-electric relicensing, chemicals policy, solid waste source reduction, oil spill contingency plans, pesticides policy, and local community land-use and infrastructure issues.

Bingham currently serves on the Panel on Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making for the National Academy of Sciences and on an advisory committee to the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. She attended Stanford University, graduated from Huxley College of Environmental Studies in Washington State, and did her graduate work in environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley.


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  • Shalini Vajjhala, Fellow - <i>On leave as Deputy Associate Director for Energy and Climate at the President’s Council on Environmental Quality</i>