Environmental Governance and Conflict Management in Belize

In 2013, PARCC launched a grant-funded project in Belize designed to strengthen the capacity of government and civil society organizations to constructively manage environmental disputes in that country. Belize is a hotspot for environmental conservation and natural tourism due to its ecological richness and unique coastal reef system, but growing foreign debt and the recent discovery of oil reserves have led to conflicts over the best use for the country’s natural resources. Government officials and NGO staff lack the skills to manage the disputes arising among groups with competing visions for the country’s future. For nearly 30 years, PARCC has offered skills-based training through the Summer Institute for Creative Collaboration and Conflict Resolution. With a grant from the Oak Foundation, project directors Steven Brechin and Catherine Gerard are collaborating with University of Belize faculty to establish a similar program at that institution. Their goal is to teach critical skills to public officials and civil society leaders there, and to provide a curriculum for ongoing training in collaborative governance, negotiation, conflict management, and dispute resolution.

PARTICIPATING FACULTY: Steven Brechin (Emeritus, Sociology), Catherine Gerard (Public Administration), Neil Katz (Emeritus, Public Affairs), Peter Castro (Anthropology), and Robert Rubinstein (Anthropology)