Press Release | Certification Assessment coordinated by RESOLVE releases final report

Jun 29, 2012

This week, RESOLVE completed a cornerstone project assessing the state-of-knowledge on the sustainability impact of natural resource certification. Over the past 2+ years, RESOLVE has recruited a multi-sector sector committee (of 12 executives/experts from business, NGOs, and academia), designed a complex collaborative research program, served as project Secretariat to the committee, and negotiated complex, challenging issues that surfaced as they examined what is known about the impacts of certification and how it is used by businesses, civil society, and governments. On behalf of the committee, RESOLVE just released a consensus report, Toward Sustainability; the press release details the findings of the report. Check out ourblog to learn about RESOLVE’s contributions to the project.

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Certification Assessment releases final report

Jun 29, 2012

This week, RESOLVE completed a cornerstone project assessing the state-of-knowledge on the sustainability impact of natural resource certification. Over the past 2+ years, RESOLVE has recruited a multi-sector sector committee (of 12 executives/experts from business, NGOs, and academia), designed a complex collaborative research program, served as project Secretariat to the committee, and negotiated complex, challenging issues that surfaced as they examined what is known about the impacts of certification and how it is used by businesses, civil society, and governments. On behalf of the committee, RESOLVE just released a consensus report, Toward Sustainability; the press release details the findings of the report.

Led by Vice President of Program Development and Senior Mediator, Abby Dilley, the team also included Senior Mediator Jen Peyser and Senior Associate Taylor Kennedy, with guidance from President Steve D’Esposito. To give you a flavor our work on this project, the RESOLVE team:

  • Recruited the steering committee, with guidance from funders and on-coming members
  • Designed and facilitated a series of group dialogues, one-on-one consultations, and calls
  • Framed issues and organized complex, tough Steering Committee discussions so that the Committee reached key decisions and milestones
  • Prepared substantive reports and analysis to support the Steering Committee and commissioned supporting research
  • Oversaw and advised technical and policy experts to inform Steering Committee deliberations and decisions
  • Drafted and negotiated report language and policy alternatives
  • Designed and conducted a peer review process involving 30 reviewers, and compiling and synthesizing the feedback for anonymous presentation to the Steering Committee for consideration
  • Brokered a Steering Committee consensus
  • Coordinated outreach and distribution efforts throughout the development and release of the report to gather input from additional stakeholders
  • Oversaw and assisted final graphic production of a 400+ page final report

It’s been nice to get some very positive feedback, after a very challenging process:

  • The steering committee included this in the Acknowledgements section of the report: “Without the immense commitment of Abby Dilley, Jennifer Peyser, and Taylor Kennedy (RESOLVE) in facilitating this process and keeping us on track through our deliberations, we would not have been able to deliver this report.”
  • “Congratulations on shepherding this project through to completion.. it must have been a rather large task to coordinate. Well done. And thanks for facilitating what I’m sure will be an important contribution to the policy discussion on the future of certification.” – from a contributing researcher



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Towards Responsible Mineral Development – GEMM 2020

May 11, 2012

Responsible mineral development is an essential ingredient supporting development in key regions of the world and many of the products we need (building materials, copper wire, piping) and want (jewelry, smart phones).

Defining what is “responsible” in a way that has support from key stakeholder groups remains a challenge.

Glenn Sigurdson and his team at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver gathered over 140 leaders from around the world to take stock of progress to date on the question of what is “responsible” and think about how to take this agenda forward. See Pathways for Improving Practice and Agendas for Responsive Research; Responsible Minerals Sector Initiative (RMSI) for more information.

For me, two clear themes emerged from this session; it is time to 1) consolidate and 2) catalyze:

Progress is occurring—one measure of success is the myriad sustainability initiatives that are underway. However, there is also a danger of initiative fatigue. It may be time for mapping and assessment (with participation from stakeholders) to help identify opportunities for consolidating initiatives.  We know that mapping and analysis has occurred within sectors, but we have not yet seen it occur across sectors. It is time for that to happen.

Along with consolidation there is a desire to catalyze the right activities—those that have the potential for the greatest positive impact in communities. Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and broader social license are clearly priorities. At RESOLVE we are already working with stakeholders on this issue—leaders from civil society and the corporate sector—to understand “what works” today and what we need to test or pilot. During the GEMM 2020 conference, participants affirmed this focus.

For RESOLVE and the Beedie School’s RMSI this creates a partnership opportunity. Watch this space for future updates.

- Steve D’Esposito

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Article | Partnership Council to create unified voice on environmental health

Apr 13, 2012

RESOLVE has partnered with the American Public Health Association to convene and facilitate the National Environmental Health Partnership Council. For more information please visit the Partnership Council’s webpage.

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Innovation and Leadership

Apr 9, 2012

It takes innovation and leadership to re-incentivize a supply chain to eliminate the potential for conflict minerals.  It also takes perseverance and trial and error—and the hard work of design, and testing, and re-design.  The CFS Early-Adopters Fund, a brain child of Intel, proves the case.  It complements the work already done to design a protocol and assurance system for conflict-free smelters and refiners.  And both HP and the GE Foundation know a good idea when they see it—and should be commended for putting creativity and resources into the final design.  What’s next?  What other fixes, programs, and tools will be needed to reach the joint goals of 1) conflict-free supply chains for tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold, and 2) support to in region sourcing so local miners in DRC can participate?  Watch this space for news and a bit of editorializing.  But for now kudos to these companies and the stakeholders, such as the Enough Project, who have expressed support and are poised to continue to innovate and lead—and test and persevere.

Steve D’Esposito

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Voluntary Governance

Apr 4, 2012

Yesterday’s blog post on a new RESOLVE pilot project highlights one example of voluntary collaboration among businesses to develop tools for addressing urgent environmental and social challenges.

In this era of globalization, supply chain dynamics are complex and often opaque. The Conflict-Free Smelter Program, along with the Public Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals, and mineral mapping initiatives by the electronics industry aim to make supply chains more transparent, as well as environmentally and socially sustainable. These are just a few of RESOLVE’s projects supporting voluntary governance initiatives. We are also:

  • Helping to expand avenues for civil society engagement with the Climate Investment Funds, a joint initiative of five multilateral development banks housed at the World Bank
  • Advising extractives companies, civil society organizations, and agencies on best practices for stakeholder engagement and conflict resolution
  • Facilitating a state-of-knowledge assessment on the impact and performance of sustainability labels such as the Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council, Utz, and FairTrade.

To learn more about these projects and our other voluntary governance work, check out our website.

- Taylor Kennedy

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New RESOLVE Solutions Network Program to Support-Conflict Free Supply Chain for Target Minerals

Apr 3, 2012

RESOLVE is pleased to announce the launch of a new pilot project—the Conflict-Free Smelter (CFS) Early Adopters Fund.  This Fund, initiated by Intel, HP and GE, is designed to support responsible minerals sourcing by encouraging smelters and refineries (smelters) to become early-adopters of the CFS Program, which seeks to end supply chain support for the sale of illicit minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the surrounding region.

The CFS Early-Adopters Fund offers each smelter company an extra incentive for early participation by helping to offset transition and start-up costs if they successfully comply with the CFS Program protocol. The idea for this Fund was hatched by companies who are committed to doing what it takes in their supply chains to promote transparency, and RESOLVE’s Solutions Networkplatform is an ideal home for managing and testing this pilot program. This is a great example of leading companies taking action to promote transparency and responsible sourcing in their supply chains. Intel, HP, and the GE Foundation are sponsoring this new, independent fund, and other leading organizations have been invited to support the Fund as well.

Because so much of this design is new, we do not expect it to be perfect at the outset. As with so much of the innovative work taking place to respond to conflict minerals, we are committed to working with stakeholders to continue testing and making improvements. Approximately a year into the pilot program we will invite key stakeholders to review the program results and help determine how to further strengthen efforts to support capacity building in the supply chain for conflict-free minerals.

RESOLVE’s President, Stephen D’Esposito explains “Early leadership from electronics companies helped catalyze development of the Conflict-Free Smelter Program, and once again we see leaders like Intel, HP and the GE Foundation taking action to make a difference in the world supply chain. RESOLVE is committed to work with stakeholders to test programs like this and inform, refine and strengthen policy and voluntary efforts on such issues.”

The Fund is part of a growing fabric of programs designed to build capacity to respond to the challenges of conflict minerals. The EICC and GeSI, these same sponsoring companies and others also support the Public Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals, a joint initiative between governments, companies, and civil society to support supply chain solutions to conflict minerals challenges in the DRC and the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa. To find out more about this program and RESOLVE’s involvement, click here.

For more information on the CFS Early-Adopters Fund, click here. And, for more information on RESOLVE’s other voluntary governance projects, click here.

- Beth Weaver

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Press Release | Intel, HP, GE Foundation Create Fund to Encourage Participation in Conflict-Free Smelter Program

Apr 3, 2012

RESOLVE today announced the launch of a new, independent fund designed to promote early participation of smelters and refineries in the Conflict-Free Smelter (CFS) Program. This fund, with initial contributions by Intel, and in collaboration with HP and the GE Foundation, seeks to support the early smelter adopters of the CFS Program that demonstrate compliance with the Program protocols as established by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GESI). The fund is being called the CFS Early-Adopters Fund. RESOLVE will serves as the independent program and financial manager for the new Fund.

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From the 3rd Annual CSR Extractives Conference…

Mar 21, 2012

I’m at Ethical Corporation’s 3rd Annual CSR Extractives Conference How To Manage Social and Environmental Risk for Oil, Gas and Mining in London speaking about stakeholder engagement and conflict minerals—both the challenges and the progress.  The IFC just spoke about the documented financial benefit of good stakeholder engagement associated with natural resource projects.  I’ll talk about how “failure” or getting stuck can lead to success if you look at the challenge from the right perspective.  With conflict minerals, stakeholders were initially stuck because of the challenge of tracing and tracking in the supply chains for tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.  But working together to unpack the challenges led to collaborative solutions—and progress. 

Good to see groups like PACT and others in the room.  Could use more like the Enough Project, Motorola Solutions, Intel, HP, GE, Freeport McMoran and Newmont to really paint the picture of the challenges and opportunities.  But that opportunity will come with the upcoming EICC-GeSI Supply Chain Workshop in Philly.

- Steve D’Esposito

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Joint Fact-Finding Builds Consensus, Makes Partners Out of Adversaries

Mar 8, 2012

RESOLVE was pleased to welcome Masahiro Matsuura, Professor at the University Of Tokyo Graduate School Of Public Policy, to our Washington, DC offices last week to share insights on an important mediation technique known as joint fact-finding (JFF). JFF can be a useful approach to manage many of the challenges that arise at the intersection of science and policy decision-making such as lack of data and contested scientific information. (For more on science-policy challenges, see RESOLVE resources such as When the Sparks Fly: Building Consensus When the Science is Contested; Managing Scientific and Technical Information When the Science is Contested; and Building Knowledge: When Knowledge from “Here” Meets Knowledge from “Away” .)

In contrast to more conventional and often contentious approaches JFF involves bringing a wide variety of stakeholders together to identify what information is needed to answer policy questions, how and by whom information should be gathered and interpreted—including “technical” and “local” knowledge— and how to connect this information to policy decisions . Scientists and technical experts have an important role in “translating” technical information so that non-technical stakeholders understand and can give input on information gathering, processing, and outcomes, and to learn about inherent uncertainties and tradeoffs of different policy options. This process builds trust, cooperation, and can make stakeholders partners and problem-solvers rather than adversaries in the policy-making process.

Dr. Juliana Birkhoff, Vice President of Collaborative Practice at RESOLVE, shared two JFF case studies with Dr. Matsuura. The first case study involved the communities of Falls Hills and Poplar Heights in Fairfax County, Virginia, in which a local stream suffered from regular flooding events that threatened homes, schools, and recreational trails in the area. Dr. Birkhoff used this case to illustrate how traditional science-based policy making can lead to undesirable outcomes, and how JFF can serve as a more effective alternative. Using a traditional problem solving approach, Fairfax County officials consulted a few area homeowners and designed a flood mitigation solution that was based primarily on technical information. When County officials presented their solution to the communities, residents were outraged that the last remaining stand of woods in their neighborhood would be cleared to create a retention pond. To settle the dispute Fairfax County turned to RESOLVE to go back to the drawing board and engage stakeholders in a JFF process. RESOLVE held public meetings where members of the community and technical advisors shared information, built trust, and developed a list of priorities and options that ultimately led to a sustainable solution supported by all stakeholders.

The second RESOLVE case study involved the development of EPA’s microbial disinfectant byproduct (MDBP) rules. Drinking water is regularly treated with disinfectants in order to kill pathogens that can cause acute health problems, but disinfection creates byproducts that can lead to cancer and other long-term health impacts. The agency needed to make a number of tough choices on how to balance two conflicting objectives. RESOLVE convened a broad range of stakeholders and technical experts to develop a set of rules that significantly reduced public health risks, balanced the interests of stakeholders, and shaped major public infrastructure investments for decades.

We also explored how JFF operates against different cultural backdrops. Dr. Matsuura shared that, historically, the Japanese public has had very high confidence in scientists and government officials. RESOLVE observed that, in the U.S., public confidence is wavering or low for government; and dueling expert scenarios such as climate change and high profile public health cases, among others, often cause the public to question science and scientists. (A December 2011 Gallup poll sheds more light on how Americans rate honesty and integrity of professionals in different fields; respondents were not asked for views of “scientists” in the poll.)

Regardless of historical and cultural differences, we agreed that the erosion of public trust in institutions and experts has created a space for JFF. Dr. Matsuura noted that in Japan serious questions about government’s and scientists’ transparency with regards to nuclear power in general and especially the handling of the Fukushima disaster have diminished public trust in Japanese Institutions. This situation will challenge policy making and JFF—making it difficult to identify experts credible to key stakeholders and the public—but can also serve as an impetus for exploration of JFF techniques in Japanese policy-making and dispute resolution.

Dr. Matsuura is undertaking a three-year research project organized by the Japan Science and Technology Agency in order to learn about and refine the processes involved in JFF. He also plans to review three case studies in the fields of distributed energy systems, food safety, and marine spatial planning. We recorded our conversation and presentation with Dr. Matsuura to share with his colleagues and others in Japan, and are also sharing a link here. We look forward to learning how JFF is implemented and integrated into policy decisions in Japan.

- Jen Peyser

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