Groundwater as a source of conflict and cooperation: Towards creating mutual gains in a Finnish water supply project

Vuokko Kurki
Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland; vuokko.kurki@tut.fi

Tapio S. Katko
Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland; tapio.katko@tut.fi

ABSTRACT: Community planners, decision-makers and authorities frequently encounter conflicts revolving around natural resource management as well as around urban planning. Since the 1970s, the dynamics of conflict resolution have evolved from conventional expert-based rational solutions towards collaborative ones. Against this background, our research investigates one contentious groundwater project in the Tampere Region in Finland. Conflict assessment clarified the divergent interests of the multiple parties. Drawing on negotiation theory, this study illustrates how polarised positions and competitive framing, as well as the influence of historical baggage, may form an insurmountable barrier to successful negotiation. While the acknowledgement of various interests should form the heart of the integrative negotiation process, excessive energy is used for argumentation to protect predefined goals with as minor concessions as possible. Addressing the collaborative approach, we suggest multiple ways towards creating mutual gains and cooperation in future water supply projects.

KEYWORDS: Conflict assessment, case-study, groundwater, integrative negotiation, mutual gains approach, Finland