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Bridging Troubled Waters: Applying Consensus-Building Techniques to Water Planning

  • Year: 2012
  • Author: Baldwin C.; Ross, H
  • Journal Name: Society and Natural Resources
  • Journal Number: Vol.25, No.3
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Published Location: Philadelphia, United States
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: Queensland

This research investigates a practical way to address clashes in stakeholder values and enhance outcomes in water allocation planning, in a case study of the water-stressed Lockyer catchment in Australia. A conflict assessment using photovoice interviews early in the process was used to identify divergent interests and values about sustainability, private and public benefit, and equity. A photovoice workshop as well as separate and joint meetings of government and irrigator groups using various consensus-building techniques fostered mutual respect, identified common ground, and contributed toward a negotiated package. This case study shows that techniques that clarify parties' values can reduce areas of divergence and refocus parties on topics for further negotiation in water planning. A consensus-building process need not be formalized in legislation; techniques can be tailored for the purpose and needs of the situation, and together with institutional change will contribute to more collaborative and deliberative planning processes.

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