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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The Fraser Basin Council’s role as a facilitating institution in the consensus-based development of the Fraser River Management Plan Lapp, Laura Mitchelle

Abstract

Facilitated consensus-based processes seek to develop constructive dialogue and collaborative opportunities among stakeholders and thus have the potential to improve problem identification and decision-making. This thesis assesses the ability of the Fraser Basin Council (Council) to contribute to the procedural success of a consensus-based process as a facilitating institution. A "facilitating institution", a concept not documented in the literature, is defined as a non-partisan institution that draws on its membership to facilitate consensus-building on issues related to a common interest. In the case of the Council, it is a unique institution constituted of government, private sector and public representatives that focuses on economic, environmental and social sustainability goals. In the absence of performance measures to assess such an institution, a twopart analytical framework is developed which first outlines six performance measures associated with successful consensus-based processes, with an emphasis on "Agreement on the Facilitator". It identifies several factors that influence the facilitating institution's ability to assist the participants in achieving success. In particular, qualities the institution adds to or detracts from the process, the style of intervention it uses and how its performance compares to a set of strengths and weaknesses of facilitating institutions. The "Fraser River Management Plan: Hope to Mission" (FRMP) process is used as a case study. A qualitative research approach employs document analysis and semi-structured interviews with a cross-section of FRMP process participants, Council staff and Directors. The participants' assessment of the FRMP process results in performance measure ratings that are highly positive for "Agreement on the Facilitator" and "Representation of Interest", positive for "Interest-Driven Framework" and "Informed Decision-Making", mixed for "Clarity of Process" and negative for "Decision Implementation". Conclusions on the Council's facilitation of the FRMP process are that (1) the influence of the Council was most positive at the "front end" of the process, (2) the Council has considerable potential as a facilitating institution, not all of which was maximized and (3) the role of the Council as a facilitating institution needs to be defined more explicitly and communicated to the broader public.

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