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Conference Applies Conflict Resolution To Border Environment

A conference called Greening Borders at University of San Diego hopes to look at U.S.-Mexico environmental issues in a new light. Organizers expect more than 100 people to attend.

Cars wait in line at the San Ysidro border crossing.
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Above: Cars wait in line at the San Ysidro border crossing.

The conference convenes academics, activists and government officials from both sides of the border to apply principles of conflict resolution to issues like pollution and the border fence.

Binational discussions on those topics are often mired in blame.

William Ury, co-founder of Harvard's Program on Negotiation, is the conference's keynote speaker. He said productive discussions depend on respect and listening.

"And that you begin to identify behind the positions. The things that they say they want, you know, we want zero pollution, we want this, you really understand what are the deeper underlying interests, which might be economic needs, political needs, security needs," said Ury. "And then you invent possible options that deal with security, that deal with economy, that deal with environment."

Ury said those ideas can then form the basis of formal negotiations.

Audio

Aired 11/18/09

A conference called Greening Borders at University of San Diego hopes to look at U.S.-Mexico environmental issues in a new light. Organizers expect more than 100 people to attend.

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