Effective Processes for Facilitation, Mediation and Negotiation in Socio-Environmental Conflicts in Peru: The Challenge of Intercultural Dialogue in Public Administration

by Lorena Cordero (ELP 2016) | Legal Assistant, Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement, Peru

Peru is a geographically diverse country with a multicultural and multilingual wealth represented in their native languages 47 (4 Andean and 43 Amazonian) differentiated from each other and, in turn, linked by a common history. Thus, Peru has three distinct areas, coast, mountains and forests, which are peasant and native communities; in which indigenous peoples are located.

However, since the creation of the state, public policy implemented in Peru has had a vision of a homogeneous nation, leaving aside cultural pluralism, thus ruling out the idea of legal pluralism agreed to manage development. This situation has generated a dialogue between the Governments and indigenous communities that is interrupted by different conceptions that fail to converse with each other; which - in many cases - triggers a social conflict.

This is reflected in a majority of socio-environmental conflicts in which the environmental issue collides with economic and cultural. It is time then to think, if dialogue or not to have an intercultural aspect.

In the class with Susan Carpenter she talked about collaboration leadership, her class was a great help to learn about facilitation, mediation and negotiation in multicultural contexts. Also we learned that the unmovable rules do not help to reach an agreement and that we need to respect the different perspectives of each party. I think this class is directly related to the class of Ernesto Sirolli, he began to speak about paternalism in some projects focused on human development and how this view harms the same population that the project wants to help. Also he taught us that the hard work, the funding and the “good feelings” for a community won’t work if we only plan a strategy from the desktop, we need to know what the other thinks what the other wants and so to have a real strategy.

I consider both ideas important to focus on the way that Peru has managed environmental conflicts and how it would help if we had a perspective of intercultural dialogue to manage conflicts.Nowadays, the Peruvian government has a specific department to management environmental conflicts, so in most cases the government is the facilitator between the companies and the indigenous communities. 

In many occasions, the indigenous communities are represented by people outside the community who try to make the community more “exotic” and speak for them. They talk about things the community don’t believe in. On the other hand, we have the companies and the government, both exotic-ize the indigenous communities and think that they are the oldest brothers that have to teach what is wrong and good for the indigenous, because they are inside the “nation” instead the communities who are outside the nation because they have different way to think.

So for proper facilitation,these ideas of exoticism and paternalism must be banished, the idea for an effective facilitation process is to think of an intercultural dialogue. Every culture thinks their way of seeing things is natural, for example in indigenous languages they identify their own existence as "human beings" and those who are not of his group are enemies, spirits, animals or other (Diez, 2011). In this kind of dialogue is to overcome ethnocentric visions and equality of cultures defended, so recently when it has passed the first culture shock begins to gain an understanding of the other culture that allows show a complete picture of the "other " and oneself.

Understand that intercultural dialogue not is an idea of tolerance, it is a recognition of rights, which cannot be absent in the search for environmental balance and national development.


1. Alejandro Diez. (2011). Interculturalidad, un idioma común para la gobernabilidad. Lima: Presidencia del Consejo de Ministros del Perú.

2. Rodrigo Arce. (2013). Diálogo e interculturalidad en contextos de conflictos vinculados a la gestión de los recursos naturales. Lima: Cooperación Alemana– GIZ.