Bridge over Troubled Waters: Insights and solutions to bridge the technical / community information divide
Interactive Panel Dialogue
Water poses one of the greatest sustainability challenges of the 21st Century. Essential to basic human needs, healthy ecosystems and strong economies, water resources are experiencing severe pressure from climate change, rapid urbanization, economic growth and increasing per capita water use. Heightened recognition of water impacts – and potential solutions – from industrial water users, including mining, is a key source of conflict.
In this context, information is key. Credible information can be a bridge among concerned parties and provide a basis for working together. The opposite is also true – dueling experts both claiming impartiality and reliability makes the media happy and the public disengaged and confused. This reveals that how information comes into planning and decision-making processes plays an important role in determining its acceptability, and credibility, from different standpoints.
Sometimes a conflict can be as much about the information process as its substantive findings. Key questions include: Whose information is it? Which information is more reliable? Who determines this? What questions are the right ones to ask? How was the information collected? What underlying assumptions are behind the results? Who receives the reports? How are these questions answered? Many technical experts see their job as providing the best information possible, with indices of relative confidence, within project scope and budget. Whether they address these types of questions closely is not necessarily their responsibility.
With the factors that influence whether a project is advanced, or not, becoming increasingly “local” in scale – witness the dramatic increase in efforts by companies to “secure a social license to operate” – technical players are being asked to communicate and engage with communities in new and complex ways. Information is indeed the basis for sustainable working relationships.
This session will explore these concepts and propose learnings and solutions on effective communications and engagement approaches. The format will be an interactive dialogue among thought leaders from various sectors – Indigenous, NGO, academic, consulting and industry – and will provide opportunity for audience involvement. The goal is to provoke reflection and add to a technical person’s perspective, skills and value to clients.
Principal, GEMM – Global Energy, Minerals and Markets Dialogue
Principal, Confluence Solutions Consulting, Canada
Jessica has extensive experience working with diverse interests helping to build relationships and partnerships, identify common ground and resolve conflicts arising from resource management, governance and sustainability issues in Canada and abroad. She has given leadership and professionalism to a wide range of complex fisheries, water use, mining and oil and gas related projects. Jessica has led the development and management of programs in Aboriginal relationships and sustainable fisheries at a leading Canadian not-for-profit organization. She is currently a central player with the Global Energy, Mining and Markets Dialogue Initiative – GEMM – an important global dialogue of thought leaders and practitioners that brings together diverse communities of interest to identify, explore and work together to respond to sustainability challenges in the resource sector. Jessica has also advanced the Engagement and Learning programs of the Canadian International Resoures and Development Institute, working with developing countries to leverage the potential of their natural resources of minerals, oil and gas, into long-term sustainable livelihoods (www.cirdi.org).
Jessica is an experienced trainer and lecturer in the field of governance, collaboration and sustainability, conducting strategic planning and implementing capacity building programs on community engagement and Board governance for private sector and civil society organizations in Canada and abroad. She co-leads programs on collaborative governance in fisheries and is a visiting lecturer on negotiation and collaboration strategies in the graduate business diploma and Executive MBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership programs at Simon Fraser University. She has lived and worked in this field in South Africa and South-East Asia and holds a Master of Science in Resource Management and Environmental Science. Jessica has worked professionally as a biologist with expertise and publications in fisheries assessment and ecology. In 2008, Jessica became an Associate with The CSE Group, a professional affiliation of independent practitioners well recognized as leaders in the field of sustainability and conflict resolution.
David Chambers, Ph.D., P. Geop.
President, Centre for Science in Public Participation, USA
Dr. David Chambers is the president of the Center for Science in Public Participation, a non-profit corporation formed to provide technical assistance on mining and water quality to public interest groups and tribal governments.
Dr. Chambers has 35 years of experience in mineral exploration and development – 15 years of technical and management experience in the mineral exploration industry, and for the past 20 years he has served as an advisor on the environmental effects of mining projects both nationally and internationally. He has a Professional Engineering Degree in Physics from the Colorado School of Mines, a Master of Science Degree in Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and is a registered professional geophysicist in California (# GP 972). Dr. Chambers received his Ph.D. in Environmental Planning from Berkeley where his doctoral dissertation analyzed the U.S. Forest Service’s efforts to plan for and manage minerals on the National Forests.
He has provided technical assistance to public interest groups and tribal governments on proposed, operating, and abandoned mines in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Canada (British Columbia, Ontario, Labrador, Yukon), Kyrgyzstan, and Northern Ireland. This assistance has included review of underground and open pit mine design, seismic stability for tailings dams, waste rock facilities design, water quality monitoring, water treatment facility design, reclamation planning, and financial assurance for mine closure. This has included the review of dozens of environmental impact studies and included analyzing the potential adverse affects on surface and groundwater quality of acid mine drainage and metals leaching from mine point discharges and seepage from mine waste storage facilities, and on proposing alternative methodologies to avoid these impacts.
He has also provided technical assistance to tribal governments and public interest groups in negotiating with mine owners, mine developers, and federal and state regulators, to assist these parties in understanding the major technical implications of specific mining projects, and in providing alternatives that would lead to more environmentally responsible development. He has played a key role in negotiating complex agreements, including alternative development plans for several mine proposals in Alaska, technical studies related to EPA placer mining regulation, efforts by the mining industry and NGOs to research and regulate marine mine waste disposal, and a joint industry-NGO international effort to develop a process to define and measure performance for responsible mining practices.
Dr. Chambers has worked with the State of Alaska Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation on mining, reclamation, cyanide and solid waste regulations. He has been a member of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks School of Mineral Engineering Advisory Board; a member of the Western Governors’ Association Abandoned Mine Waste Working Group; and, a member of the EPA’s RCRA Policy Dialogue Committee, a group of industry, environmental and government representatives who worked to develop regulations for mining wastes under the authority of RCRA Subtitle D.
Ann Marie Sam
Nak’azdli First Nation and MASc Candidate, University of British Columbia, Canada
Anne Marie Sam was raised in the Lusilyoo (frog) clan and is now a member of the Lhts’umusyoo (Beaver) clan from the Nak’azdli First Nation, Fort St James, located in North Central British Columbia.
After becoming the first in her family to complete a university degree program in history, Ann Marie returned home to Dakelh territory located in North Central British Columbia. She has been working on Indigenous traditional knowledge, land rights and environmental protection issues since she graduated from the University of Northern British Columbia in 1996.
Ann Marie has been raised with a strong connection to Dakelh traditions and culture. She is committed to developing policies that ensure Dakelh connection to the land and water is not pushed aside as resource development increases in the Nak’azdli territory.
A large part of her work has been to inform government and industry of the importance of the land, water and wildlife to the identity of the Nak’azdli people.
In 2006 a mining company informed the Nak’azdli community that they were interested in proposing a mine development close to a Mountain known as Shus Nadloh, within the Nak’azdli Territory.
This mine was being proposed in her family’s Keyoh (traditional lands that a clan or family have responsibility for, where for generations they have hunted, fished, collected medicinal plants and occupied). As a mother of three she had a responsibility to get informed about the proposed mine development, and how this development will impact her children and future generations.
Today the community of Nak’azdli has been impacted by the construction of the new Mount Milligan Project. Nak’azdli has serious concerns about the environmental and social impacts they are now experiencing and have taken it upon themselves to conduct environmental monitoring, and have developed a research project that is collecting data regarding the social and health impacts the new mine is having on their local community.
Currently Ann Marie is an Elected Councillor for the Community of Nak’azdli , An advisor with the Aboriginal Leadership Initiative, a board member of Mining Watch Canada, a member of First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM) and a MASc Candidate, Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at the University of British Columbia.