Example “Managing conflicts of interests in infrastructure projects”

Visitors: political decision makers and high-ranking officials of national institutions responsible for strategic and operative decisions related to infrastructure projects; representatives of regions and municipalities, representatives of investors and NGOs.

Objectives of the visit: obtain an understanding of the formal legal framework of Swiss political processes with their opportunities for the participation of various interest groups as well as mediation and other informal participation approaches using specific examples. Reflection on the challenges of different conflict management approaches. Depending on the composition of the delegation, the study visit can also be used as a trust-building exercise for the delegation members and offer a platform for them to discuss their conflicts of interest and possible solutions in a neutral environment.

Program overview

Day 1: Introduction to the Swiss political system and conflict-management mechanisms in Switzerland

  • Official reception of the delegation
  • Introduction by experts (according to the specific interests of the delegation): institution in Switzerland and their relation to political and administrative systems; different models of conflict prevention, conflict management. and participation
  • Combination of sight-seeing and presentations, e.g. in the form of a tour of the city with a focus on living governance (the political institutions of Confederation, canton and city of Bern, with explanations of the tri-level system)

Day 2: Infrastructure projects at the federal level: fact-finding visit to a project (e.g. NEAT)

  • Presentations from a political representative from the Confederation, with discussion: how was the project set up from idea to implementation? What conflicts occurred and how were they managed? What challenges were there in the collaboration and cooperation between the different interest groups?
  • Visit to the infrastructure project and discussion with local municipal representatives

Day 2: Cooperation and development of political vision – political dialog on a specific topic

  • Presentations from participants of a political dialogue process, with discussion: cantonal authorities, political responsibilities, companies, or union representative
  • Presentation and discussion with the mediator of the political dialogue

Day 3: Infrastructure project conflicts at the cantonal level – specific mediation

  • Presentations from participants of the mediation project: cantonal authorities, political responsibilities, companies, NGO, or citizens’ groups
  • Presentation from the mediator, with discussion

Day 4: In-depth look at mediation and participative processes

  • Presentations and discussions regarding experiences with different processes: cantonal authorities, political officials, companies, NGOs, or citizens’ groups
  • Presentation from the mediators, with discussion

Day 5: Participation and balancing of interests at the municipal level

  • New approaches to contributions and consultation of citizens in a specific project with municipal representatives
  • Visit to a municipality and a specific project

Day 6: Joint reflection

  • What surprised the delegation? Any questions?
  • What insights will the visitors take back home?
  • How can they use the new insights in their own context?