The development and implementation of participatory processes, also known as stakeholder engagement, has been a growing field of research and action since the 1980’s. In 1992, the Rio Earth Summit, laid emphasis on engaging and involving the public more in the decision-making process. This desire for greater transparency and accountability has enabled stakeholders to have a voice in the planning and implementation of projects that affect them. It has also enabled project planners to benefit from local expertise, and increased opportunities to link up valuable local initiatives with influential people and policy makers.
Of course, changes to the way decisions are made can challenge the established ‘status quo’, resulting in power struggles that can hinder or halt a project’s progress. Similarly, with the growing number of issues now being subject to public consultation, unrealistic expectations can lead to stakeholder fatigue, with the subsequent loss of support that make projects, in particular adaptation actions, viable in the long term.
For stakeholder engagement to deliver positive benefits, it should be included as an integral aspect of the development and delivery of a plan, project or policy. Examples of stakeholder engagement process can be found in the resource section of this unit, with further examples available in the training modules too.
A more detailed account on the theory and practice of stakeholder engagement can be found on the following pages
- Context and guidelines
- Establishing a participatory process
- Stakeholder identification and analysis
- Ladder of participation