Summary of "The Politics of Environmental Mediation"

Summary of

The Politics of Environmental Mediation

by Douglas J. Amy

Summary written by T.A. O'Lonergan, Conflict Research Consortium

Citation: The Politics of Environmental Mediation, Douglas J. Amy, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987) 250 pp.

The Politics of Environmental Mediation is a careful consideration of the topic of environmental mediation. It will be of interest to those who seek an understanding of the motivation for and benefits of the mediation approach to environmentally based conflicts. The first chapter examines the benefits of mediation compared to the more traditional political institution approach. The author considers the drawbacks of litigation, the failures of legislative and administrative approaches, and how mediation overcomes these limitations. He also advises the reader on fashioning win-win solutions through a non-adversarial approach.

Chapter two examines the advantages of informality through consideration of psycho-social and interest conflicts, data disputes and negotiation as a learning experience. Chapter three addresses the need to separate myth from reality. He addresses the relationship between mediation and the balance of power, its efficacy, speed and cost.

Finally, the author offers advice for integrating the conflictive and cooperative visions of mediation. Chapter four examines mediation as alternately: seduction, emotional pacification and, therapy, complete with tricks of the trade. He also considers the disadvantages of informality and necessary safeguards against exploitation.

Chapter five considers the relationship between mediation and inequalities of power wherein the author offers proposed solutions and examines the advantages of technical expertise. This chapter closes with consideration of the question; Can mediators balance out power inequities? Chapter six addresses the distortion of the nature of environmental conflict by consideration of two models: the Misunderstanding Model, and the Conflicts of Interests Model. The author examines the advantages of each. The chapter closes with consideration of mediation as a form of political control. The seventh and final chapter addresses the future of environmental mediation. Toward this end, the author considers: mediation in a larger political context, and the need for mandatory mediation and restricting access to the courts.

The Politics of Environmental Mediation is a closely focused examination of environmental mediation which will serve as an overview for readers who seek a fundamental understanding of the topic. The text is well annotated and appended with a brief epilogue.