Online Dispute Resolution is a green business

Collaboration is good. There can be a result that flows from people working together, that surpasses the sum of their individual contributions. Such is the case with ODR: The next green giant, a paper authored by Noam Ebner (@NoamEbner on Twitter) and Colleen Getz, with background support from Susanna Jani (@DistanceProject). It’s about ODR (Online Dispute Resolution).  Its about going green.

ODR: The next green giant

With this paper, I think the ODR ante has just been upped. ODR is more than resolving disputes online. It’s a way of taking ownership something bigger, how we as mediators work and live.

The non-environmental benefits of ODR are well known; e.g., enhanced flexibility, access to expertise, reduced costs, time-investment and travel.
This paper also spotlights the environmental benefits of ODR:

  • the most significant environmental cost of all: carbon emissions resulting from travel
  • paper use is reduced to minimum and often eliminated altogether
  • reduce/eliminate need for office space, and construction of office buildings, eg., courthouses
  • fewer buildings has ripple effect impact on land/wildlife, reduced electricity needs

The authors say these green benefits are too often ignored. Why? They’re too obvious, upset the apple card (e.g., potential clients whose politics lean the other way), disputants don’t give it much weight vis–vis their conflict, too much personal values (not neutral!), and for professional-cultural reasons (e.g., traditional legal profession aren’t seen as particularly enviro-conscious, with some exceptions).

The authors advocate marketing these environmental benefits, as an individual ODR service provider, as private market initiatives, and to advance the field of ODR. I’m going to run with these and “go green“. How about you?

Stating the obvious

In many ways, it seems obvious, ODR is a socially and environmentally responsible business path. Why has it take so long for it to be stated appropriately?

In addition to it’s the right time for this message, I think it speaks of a good collaboration:

  • the authors come from different places and backgrounds
  • they bring their individual strengths, relationships and ideas to the table
  • they conceptually blend fields (ADR and environmental), a common pathway to innovation
  • they are inclusive; looking at the big picture, even if its complex, providing a richer deck to draw the best ideas from
  • they welcome paradox; e.g., not shying away from the negative side of remote work, such as network server factories that devour electricity

It takes a good collaboration and guts to put forth something new. Well done Noam and Colleen, and Susanna.  And if you want to learn more about their research, register for their upcoming May 14 ADRHub webinar on this topic.

How about you? How are you making your business stick up for the environment?


  1. Colleen Getz says

    You have me blushing, Ben! But you’re right about what flows from people working together — there couldn’t be a more inspirational pair to join forces with than Noam and Susanna. I’m also very appreciative of how you’re highlighting the environmental benefits of ODR. Go green!

  2. This model is a good alternative to war. Eh!
    Often people are so disconnected from their oneness with the biosphere. They only know win/me and me/win. Online communication is good for many circumstances and detrimental in others. Humans are caught in the runaway progression of change OR the collapsing of time. The ‘now’ is lost in the mind set of ‘me goals’. Kindness and courage can be taught but most people listen only when human conexion has been made.

  3. Sorry if its a bit embarrassing Colleen. Just showing my appreciation. ‘Tis a fine report, though. It certainly triggered a few light bulbs in me. And, yes, the 3 of you make for a good team. Onwards we go with ODR…

  4. It seems to me that you, personally, have just upped the ante, Ben. You are certainly the first ODR practitioner, that I’m aware of in any event, to openly celebrate what may just be the biggest gift ODR has to offer. Thank you for that.

    (PS – Thanks also for making Colleen blush. She is quite fetching in that shade of pink.)

  5. Why thank you, Susanna. Kind words. I’m about to lose some humility. Green is a zeitgeist of our time… and ODR certainly fits in with that. And I know you’ve longed blogged and advocated about the connection between ODR and the environment, so I hope you’re blushing a bit, too. 🙂


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