Mediation is possible in disputes concerning the environment. So says the Milan Chamber of Arbitration, promoter and director of a project set up to foster a culture of dialogue and engagement on environmental issues, by extending civil arbitration to disputes over the environment. The developer and coordinator of the initiative is lawyer Veronica Dini.
The main objectives, as described on the project website, are to establish ties among territorial players based on justice and democracy, by involving all stakeholders equally; to introduce mediation in administrative and penal cases; to extend civil mediation to environmental conflicts in order to reduce the number of court cases; to create and train new professional figures and requalify existing professional skills by updating green economy competences.
Specifically, the initiative sets out to resolve environmental conflicts through creative, concrete solutions and reduce the risk of work being suspended on construction and infrastructure projects.

The initial steps will be a multi-stakeholder survey on mediation and environmental protection and a comprehensive information, training and awareness-raising program.
The first event, held in early January at the Milan Urban Centre, was a workshop for municipalities, entitled “How to manage environmental conflicts: user instructions”. One of the speakers was Amapola partner Sergio Vazzoler.
In his paper, Vazzoler looked at the role of communication in environmental conflicts and the need to set up a new type of debate in order to resolve the delays typical of public authorities, business and media. The state administration is still tied to the “conference syndrome” and tends to underestimate the importance of relationship governance through digital channels; business continues to neglect direct ties with local communities; the media operate almost exclusively within the confines of sensationalism. This scenario reinforces situations hampered by the potential for conflict between opposing positions, to the detriment of a change in direction, which is only possible through greater communication, discussion and interaction with those not yet able to assess the merits of specific cases.

Once the survey and educational stages have been completed, the project will identify a series of real controversies, to which a mediation procedure will be applied on an experimental basis. The outcome of the mediation will then be verified, together with the completeness and adequacy of the model.