Neutrality in Environmental Negotiations

Frank Dukes

Director, Institute for Environmental Negotiation, University of Virginia

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: You really need to be an advocate for sustainability, working on environmental issues, and that is probably controversial if anyone was paying attention to it.

We don't think that we are neutral; we have an impact on everything that we do. We do think that it is important that we are independent, that we are not dependent on any particular party or set of interests, and that we are impartial or co-partial. That is that we are not seeking to advance a particular set of interests over any other set of interests. By being advocates for sustainability, we mean that we do believe that we need to be responsible in the work that we do, the public decisions that are made, and we need to find ways that insure social equity, economic gain, and ecological. It may not have to happen in the same balance for each project, but we need to find ways to enhance all of those, and we will tell people that. People do not often ask, we will tell people about that; that's what we look to do. We found the best way to do that is as working as a third party, as facilitators, and as mediators to bring people together for not for us to advocate for ourselves what we think people need.