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Remediation is the process used to facilitate the resolution or response to the breach of obligations. It is an act or process used to address or fix the problem.

Hayley Jarick and Sarah Blake have co-authored a discussion paper on the remediation of complex issues like modern slavery, reconciliation and climate change.

Discussion Paper

Download Remediation Discussion Paper (2022) Blake, S. and Jarick, H.


Executive Summary

Businesses fear complex issues. They frame them in a risk context and attempt to avoid them or eliminate them when they arise. Ironically this approach increases the complexity of the issues and prevents businesses from addressing root causes and capitalising on emerging opportunities for growth and innovation.

Right now or in the near future, your grievance mechanism could identify

  • modern slavery in your supply chain,
  • systemic indigenous discrimination in your procurement processes,
  • a supplier has drawn an unsustainable allocation from a waterway causing significant downstream environmental damage, or
  • a supplier has caused permanent damage to the land of cultural first nations significance.

These are complex issues made more dynamic when we consider;

  • Stakeholders are networked with competing grievances and interests.
  • Stakeholders may be from different jurisdictions, countries and cultures.
  • Traditional legal avenues may be limited in resolving all the issues or providing desired outcomes.
  • The environment does not have a human voice to speak up for itself as a stakeholder.
  • Competing interests and priorities, and
  • High risk of conflict escalation.

These challenges often make negotiation, decision and agreement-making difficult.

What would you do?

Most of us would dread finding ourselves implicated in any of these scenarios. It’s also likely that if we ever did, we would not have the skills or experience to navigate the path of best-practice remediation.

Unfortunately, parties often end up in the judicial system or managing conflicts on multiple fronts. This negatively costs time, money and reputations and rarely results in what’s best for the victims or the most sustainable solutions.

The good news is that there is an established way forward. Professional dispute resolvers are skilled at remediating complex issues. Collaboration between professional dispute resolvers and issue subject matter experts is the best way to remediate complex social and environmental issues. Such an approach recognises that complex problems require multi-disciplinary perspectives to assist stakeholders to make wise and informed decisions.

Remedies are broad and can include truth-telling, apologies, repatriation, access to health services, legal services, employment, education, financial compensation and preventative future measures.

Remediation processes necessarily look beyond a simple agreement and instead assist parties in exploring how to ‘make right’ a given situation.

This paper is designed to help businesses understand and consider what an effective process might look like and how they may be able to engage in such a model.

At present, there is great interest and need for this process in the remediation of modern slavery. However, we also recognise that remediation may be suitable to address other complex social, business and environmental issues.