International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

5.Phases of the Stakeholder Engagement Cycle

5.1 PHASE 1: Mapping, Assessing and Engaging Stakeholders

The process of stakeholder engagement often begins with understanding the interests, values, concerns, perspectives, and needs of various stakeholder groups, as well as assessing the relative influence and power of different stakeholders on the issues at hand. This step is usually referred to as the “stakeholder needs assessment”.

5.1.1 Stakeholder mapping

Stakeholder analysis is a process of systematically listing and analyzing information to determine which groups have an interest in a project, which groups are typically included or excluded, whether each group is relevant to include, whether the groups support or oppose the project, or will the groups benefit or be harmed by it. The analysis also includes information on the concerns from various groups.

5.1.2 Tool: Stakeholder Mapping Guide

Conservation International’s Stakeholder Mapping Guide was designed based on decades of experience working with stakeholder for environmental conservation projects. The process of identifying and analyzing key actors in a conservation project allows to know their interests, positions for or against a given policy, whether they will benefit or be harmed by a project or policy, alliances with other stakeholders, conflicts with other stakeholders, degree of involvement in the policy process, lack of involvement in the policy process, and ability or inability to affect policy change. It is preferable to carry out the stakeholder listing and analysis before project implementation in order to facilitate alliance building and to foresee and prevent possible conflicts.

►Stakeholder Mapping Guide For Conservation International Country Programs & Partners


It is important to start the stakeholder engagement planning process as early as possible in the project cycle. Identifying stakeholders can begin as early as the concept is formed and the project proposal developed. At this step, it is important to define and understand the purpose of stakeholders’ mapping, namely, how will the information and findings generated from the analysis be used to benefit the project, as well as the stakeholders themselves. The following questions will have to be answered at this step:

What is it that needs to be accomplished?

Which stakeholders will need to be consulted?

What is needed from specific stakeholders?

Who will use the information? and

In which ways they will use it to benefit the project?


Stakeholder Identification consists of listing groups known to influence or be impacted by the project or policy at hand. This process will provide an important basis from which to expand the number of known stakeholders as well as begin to analyze those listed. Next, a literature review needs to be conducted to survey the range of stakeholders involved or impacted by the project or policy. This takes place through searching and reviewing online and print documents related to the issue: websites, media sources, government reports, NGO reports, scholarly reports, legal briefings, company profiles, similar projects, etc.

At the outset, all stakeholder groups with a potential interest in the project should be listed, without limiting the list based on whether it is known the group will have a stake in the project or not. Later, during analysis and stakeholder engagement, the groups having a relevant stake in the project will be confirmed, ensuring that stakeholders who may not typically have a voice in the policy discussions and decisions are included in outreach.


The lists made through stakeholder identification are based on secondary sources, while further information collection should be done by seeking primary sources. There are three main ways to reach and collect information from the project actors themselves: (1) electronic communication – such as email or online surveys; (2) interviews – by phone or in person; and (3) focus groups of multiple stakeholders. In conducting an interview, a standard questionnaire can be developed based on the categories of the Stakeholder Analysis Worksheet.

Interviews during outreach can also prove useful in collecting and adding groups to the list of stakeholders by asking each group to identify others who may have interest in or be impacted by the project or policy.


The purpose of the Worksheet is to provide key questions to stimulate analysis and understanding of stakeholder roles and responsibilities. The questions in the worksheet may be answered by the project implementation team or through stakeholder outreach such as emails, interviews, or focus groups.


With information entered on as many stakeholders as possible, in this step each question of the Worksheet will be considered, with the purpose of analyzing the information collected. Analysis is done in order to reach a better understanding of the interests, positions, relevance, partnerships, and conflicts of stakeholder groups.

In some forms of stakeholder analysis, the most politically influential or financially endowed decision- makers are considered to be at the center of any analysis. While these stakeholders remain important, in this analysis the goal instead is to consider the entire range of potentially impacted groups, which includes those that have a lack of influence or are excluded.

It is important to analyze the social and environmental barriers to inclusion and how to overcome those challenges. In any context, there are complex social factors that contribute to whether a group is involved, who is not, and why this is so. The Worksheet can help to answer some of the underlying questions through comprehensive analysis.


It is not enough to collect and analyze information on stakeholder interest; in this step analysis will shape the design of the project or policy to reflect the feedback from stakeholders impacted by it. The project team and the stakeholders involved will benefit from a more extensive and improved understanding of who to involve, their roles, and their interests or concerns. This information can be used to shape the project or policy in order to address any concerns that arose during the outreach and to increase probability for success by incorporating any changes from the stakeholders and generating buy-in for the project or policy.

The results of the analysis can also be used to provide input on other projects and programs, increase support for policy reform, guide participatory decision- making, and engage stakeholders. Generally, the purpose of this analysis is to increase stakeholder engagement and build consensus, therefore the results should be disseminated to all groups involved.

►Stakeholder Engagement: Participatory Approaches for the Planning and Development of Marine Protected Areas

►Participatory Analysis for Community Action (PACA) Training Manual

►Collaboration Mapping

5.2 PHASE 2: Engaging Stakeholders in Planning and Strategy Development

Mapping stakeholders and understanding their interests, concerns, issues, and relative power is just the beginning of the stakeholder engagement process. As stated earlier, stakeholders should be involved throughout all phases of an intervention, including in designing strategies and action plans. Some of the most important resources for working effectively with multiple stakeholders are: skilled facilitation, conflict resolution coupled with negotiation skills, collaborative target setting, and development of management plans and strategies.

5.2.1 Skilled facilitation

In planning and implementing LME projects, there will undoubtedly be numerous meetings and workshops. These meetings may involve different stakeholder groups at different times in the planning and implementation process. How these meetings are designed and facilitated can make a big difference to the overall success of the planning and implementation process.

Meetings and workshops can be open, supportive, and positive or competitive, discouraging, and negative, largely depending on how they are designed and facilitated. The following basic principles for meeting design will help coordinate effective meetings:

1Advanced planning and design: An effective meeting require advance planning and design including identification of the desired objectives and outcome of the meeting, deciding who will be invited, considering language and cultural factors, understanding the meeting culture where you are working, and developing an effective agenda.

2Providing meeting materials to participants well in advance: It is very helpful if meeting participants have early information on the objectives of the meeting, the meeting agenda, and the decision-making process that will be used.

3Separating content from process: The content, or what the meeting is discussing should be kept distinct from the meeting process, which is how the discussion happens and how the group makes decisions. It’s very important that ahead of the meeting it is established how the meeting will run and how decisions will be made, especially if difficult decisions will have to be made.

4Effective facilitation: Meetings that are well facilitated typically are more effective at achieving their intended outcomes than those that are not. Whenever possible, it is best to engage trained facilitators who can remain neutral on the meeting topics but who have enough topical knowledge to ask insightful questions of the participants. More detailed suggestions on effective facilitation techniques are provided below.

5Effective recording: While, some planning processes may have legal requirements as to how meetings are recorded, for the majority of meetings the approach to recording is up to the organizing group. Some groups may want to take detailed minutes of the meeting noting all comments said and who said them. Others may find that it is only important to document key decisions and action items. In either case, it is critical that the meeting documentation is absolutely clear on decisions and agreements and provide enough context so that a person who was not at the meeting can understand. Bullet points or vague language may leave stakeholders confused in future months. For this reason, it’s important to have experienced recorder who is comfortable with documenting key information quickly and to agree with them ahead of time on the documentation style.

6Identifying action items and responsibilities: Before any meetings is over, it’s important to identify the actions to be accomplished and who will be responsible. The list of action items and responsibilities should be shared with all participants along with other documentation from the meeting. In addition to action items, identifying what will happen next in terms of future meetings is also important.

To facilitate is to “make an action or process easy or easier.” A facilitator helps to plan and design meetings and workshops, guides the participants to help ensure that the group’s objectives are met, encourages participation, and where possible works to foster agreement on key decisions. Here, some suggestions on meeting and workshop facilitation techniques that can help to ensure that meetings are as effective as possible are offered:

1The facilitator must remain neutral: For participants to feel comfortable in sharing their ideas it’s important that they have a neutral guide. For many meetings, especially short ones, a project leader will end up facilitating the meeting. In these cases, the leader may find it most effective to ask the opinions of other participants before sharing their own and making it very clear when they are facilitating the meeting process and when they are shifting their role to provide their own non-neutral input. In longer workshops or more complex meetings, it’s important to secure an independent neutral facilitator if at all possible. If budgets don’t allow for this, it is key that the person who ends up in the facilitation role set very clear ground rules and clear language to signal when they are facilitating and when they are participating. They should not use their role as a facilitator as a way to control the floor to share their opinions.

2Ground rules for decision making need to be established up front: Meetings can be easily disrupted when stakeholders with differing interests and opinions are asked to work together on management decisions. To help avoid conflict, it is extremely helpful if all participants are clear about how decisions will be made. For example, does a decision require the consensus of the participants or are the participants providing input that will be considered by a regulatory authority to make the decision? Clearly identifying the role that participants have in decision making is very important. That said, conflict may still arise, and facilitators should study techniques on how to diffuse conflict in meetings and workshops.

3Ground rules for participation need to be established up front: Establishing ground rules about how participants must behave during the meeting can help address potential conflict. These can include: prohibitions on being disagreeable, raising voices, or targeting specific individuals with negative comments; requiring that people raise their hands and be acknowledged in order to speak; limiting the number of times in a row that a person can share their input, asking people to write down their input and asking everyone to share within a limited amount of time.

4Many participants may be out of their comfort zone and not be using their first language (Ramsar 2008).In multi-stakeholder workshops, most participants are operating out of their normal cultural context. It is important to consider cultural elements that if not managed properly can make participants uncomfortable and impact the workshop. This can include protocol around workshop opening and process, speaking appropriately to show respect to participants, food, and language challenges. The following should be kept in mind:

If participants’ first language is different from the workshop language, facilitator should consider the way she/he speaks by trying to slow down, pronouncing words more clearly, and watching the use of idioms or expressions that may not be widely known. Sentences can also be rephrased if people are not capturing the meaning. Attempts to make things clearer should not end up being too simple, and thus sounding patronizing!

If language interpretation is used, it should be remembered that this can nearly double the time needed for every meeting process. Working in multiple languages can be mentally exhausting so it may be important to provide longer breaks and many opportunities for people to work in groups that speak one language.

5Different approaches to encourage and manage participant engagement should be used: Different people have different ways of participating in meetings. Some people will only talk in small groups, while others won’t talk unless called on. The following approaches can encourage participation from all participants.

Individual participants should be given an opportunity to write down their thoughts on a particular question. This way, everyone gets a chance to think at their own pace and everyone will have something to share. This can also help keep any one person from dominating the discussion as the facilitator can simply call on other people.

Participants should be allowed time in groups of two. Even in small groups, it is common that some people talk more than others. But in groups of two usually both people will share.

People should be allowed to get together with others who have the same primary language or who are from the same demographic group. This can increase comfort level and these groups may form bonds or have insights that can be important to the meeting outcomes.

6Culturally appropriate energizers and team building activities should be used: Energizers and team building exercises are fun activities that allow the group to take their mind off the meeting topics, stand up, stretch and move, interact with one another, and have fun. Some energizers can be as quick as standing up and stretching while some team building type exercises may be more complex and involve group problem solving. If used effectively they can invigorate a meeting, encourage interaction among diverse groups, and help participants overcome mental roadblocks.

With diverse groups, it is especially important to include team building activities that help people work together and get to know each other as teammates. It can help the meeting process to mix groups of individuals who may have very different views on key meeting topics and ask them to work together on a completely unrelated team building exercise. Team building activities also enhance peer learning, as the focus of the exercise is between the participants rather than between the facilitator and the group. However, energizers and other team building activities need to be appropriate for the cultural and professional context.

A facilitator should give considerable thought to the appropriate use of energizers in each meeting and consult with local experts to make sure they are appropriate. If a facilitator is unable to find effective energizers and team building activities themselves, one option is to ask the participants to form small groups each of which will be responsible for one such activity during each day of the workshop. If your energizers and teambuilding activities are successful, the interactions will spill over into other workshop activities and even social time helping to build bridges between diverse groups that not might not otherwise interact.

7Group input needs to be synthesized: One of the most important skills of a facilitator is the ability to synthesize and/or categorize the report out of groups or individuals on key workshop topics. This may include activities such as turning 20 individual responses into a synthesized set of just a few main categories. One helpful tip is to start categorizing and synthesizing the feedback from individuals as it is provided. By noticing patterns and relationships between individual responses as they are given, a facilitator can normally group all the report outs into categories very rapidly.

8Be ready to ask probing questions: Often in workshops, individuals or small groups are asked to report out their conclusions on a particular topic or question. Usually this is followed by an opportunity for other participants to ask questions or make comments. However, it can be discouraging to the group or individual if no one asks questions or makes comments. A good facilitator should be ready to make an encouraging comment or ask a gently probing question in the event that others in the workshop do not ask any questions.

►The Basics of Designing & Facilitating Meetings

►The Role of a Facilitator

►A Guide to Participatory Action Planning and Techniques for Facilitating Groups

►Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA): A toolkit for National Biodiversity Strategies and Action
Plans (NBSAP) coordinators for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)


5.2.2 Conflict resolution and negotiation skills

Conflicts over natural resources are one of the leading causes for violent confrontation and war in human history. Managing conflicts between stakeholders is an inherent and necessary component to ensure effective environmental management. In fact, conflict is at the heart of most environmental issues, as it is often the case that the activities of one group may be negatively affecting the economic and/or human well-being of another group. Skilled neutral negotiators can be very useful when the parties agree to sit around the table to discuss options for overcoming issues. However, all stakeholders can benefit from understanding the principles of conflict resolution and negotiation. Tool: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

In this classic text, the authors Fischer, Ury and Patton (2011) (summary prepared by Oakwod Learning Limited) explain that a good agreement is one which is wise and efficient, and which improves the parties’ relationships. Wise agreement satisfies the parties’ interests and is fair and lasting.

Negotiations often take the form of “positional bargaining”. In positional bargaining each part opens with their position on an issue. The parties then bargain from their separate opening positions to agree on one position. Positional bargaining does not tend to produce good agreements. It is an inefficient means of reaching agreements, and the agreements tend to neglect the parties’ interests. It encourages stubbornness and so tends to harm the parties’ relationship.

Contrary to the positional bargaining, “principled negotiation” provides a better way of reaching good agreements. The process of principled negotiation can be used effectively on almost any type of dispute. The four principles of principled negotiation are:

1Separate the people from the problem,

2Focus on interests rather than positions,

3Generate a variety of options before settling on an agreement, and

4Insist that the agreement be based on objective criteria.

The above principles should be observed at each stage of the negotiation process. The process begins with the analysis of the situation or problem, of the other parties’ interests and perceptions, and of the existing options. The next stage is to plan ways of responding to the situation and the other parties. Finally, the parties discuss the problem trying to find a solution on which they can agree.

The authors also describe three common obstacles to negotiation and discuss ways to overcome those obstacles:

1When one party is more powerful,

2When one party won’t use principled negotiation, and

3When one party uses “dirty tricks”.

►Conflict Resolution Skills Managing and Resolving Conflict in a Positive Way Tool: Harvard’s Top 10 Negotiation Skills You Must Learn to Succeed

Increasingly, business negotiators recognize that the most effective bargainers are skilled at both creating value and claiming value—that is, they both collaborate and compete. The following 10 negotiation skills will help succeed at integrative negotiation:

1Analyze and cultivate your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement,

2Negotiate the process,

3Build rapport,

4Listen actively,

5Ask good questions,

6Search for smart trade-offs,

7Be aware of the anchoring bias,

8Present multiple equivalent offers simultaneously (MESO),

9Try a contingent contract, and

10Plan for the implementation stage. Tool: Harvard’s 10 Hard-Bargaining Tactics & Negotiation Skills

1Extreme demands followed up by small, slow concessions,

2Commitment tactics,

3Take-it-or-leave-it negotiation strategy,

4Inviting unreciprocated offers,

5Trying to make you flinch,

6Personal insults and feather ruffling,

7Bluffing, puffing, and lying,

8Threats and warnings,

9Belittling your alternatives, and

10Good cop, bad cop.

5.2.3 Collaborative Target Setting

Establishing shared management targets is a common need for the effective management of large marine areas. However, deciding between the numerous options and the reconciling potentially competing interests can make this process extremely difficult. For example, should the management team strive to protect 10% of coral reef habitats or 30 % or identify another target all together and how will this target be determined? When numerous stakeholders are involved, it can become very difficult to establish shared management targets. Conservation biologists may make one recommendation considering ecosystem needs, while commercial operators or artisanal fishermen may have other interests that are counter to these recommendations.

A key distinction that managers will need to determine is:

Will they simply identify resources that need to be managed as their targets without numerical targets (these may include coral reefs, mangroves, nearshore fisheries, and others), or

Will they set numerical targets such as a certain percentage or extent of each ecosystem that should be well managed.

Some tips for Collaborative Target Setting are:

1Establish a Working Relationship and Build Trust Between Stakeholder Groups: Collaborative target setting is often an early step in the planning process. But it is recommended that this only be pursued once a basic level of trust has been established between participating stakeholders. Ways to develop trust include spending time with stakeholder groups in their communities to understand their interests and hosting informational meetings that review the background of the managed area but don’t try to set targets or advance planning steps. Starting out with a dedicated phase to get to know stakeholders and build trust before working on collaborative targets is time well invested toward the ultimately goal of being able to work effectively with stakeholder groups.

2Work to Develop a Shared Vision of the Future: While many stakeholders’ interests may at first appear to contradict one another, in reality the foundation, i.e. the ecosystems services needed to support each of these interests, may in fact be very similar. As a result, rather than focusing on individual interests it can be very valuable to focus on developing a shared vision of the future, discussing the underlying ecosystem services that support that vision, and discussing optional targets that can support that vision. Tourism operators, resource managers, and fishermen are very likely to share a similar vision for the future in terms of abundant resources and prosperous economies based on these resources. While their specific interests may vary considerably, demonstrating that they share the same basic vision of the future can help build trust and a spirit for collaboration.

3Focus on Interests Not Positions and Principles of Collaboration: This tip applies to any effort to reduce conflict in planning or implementation of management efforts. One of the best ways to start to address a problem or set a shared target is to focus on the interests or principles, rather than on individual stakeholder agendas or positions. All parties must acknowledge that as many of their interests as possible must be met if the agreement is going to be sustainable. This will require innovative solutions, yet all stakeholder needs may not be fully met, so a willingness to compromise is essential. In addition to having interests met, it is very important that all relevant stakeholders are included, and that they feel like they have been heard and understood. It is also important that Stakeholder groups in positions of authority deeply consider the interests of groups with less authority. For example, a resource management agency must carefully consider the needs of artisanal fisheries as well as those of commercial operators. Targets must balance these interests, but rarely to both groups have the same level of input or authority in influencing these decisions.

4When Possible Apply Objective Guidelines and Criteria for Targets: If at all possible, apply guidelines for management targets that have been established by law or through international conventions. For example, the Great Barrier Reef Management Authority was given a mandate to establish a certain percentage of no take area under the representative areas program. While the process was still extremely complex, having a clear target has been cited as a key element in the success of the process. Also, well established scientific principles can also provide effective guidance for target setting.

For example, the USAID supported Coral Triangle Support Partnership undertook an extensive literature review of scientific recommendations on principles for designing marine protected area networks to achieve fisheries, biodiversity, and climate change objectives in tropical ecosystems. The Guidelines in this and other similar scientific reviews can provide key objective recommendations for establishment of scientifically rigorous management targets. (Green et al. 2013)

5Apply the Precautionary Principle: We know that there is a limit to what ecosystems can provide; however, it is rare that we fully understand those limits. In most areas of the world, our scientific understanding of ecosystem productivity is limited. The Precautionary Principle was developed to help support decision making in natural resource management when there is insufficient scientific information on which to base decisions. (Kriebel et al. 2001)

The precautionary principle, which has been proposed as a new guideline in environmental decision making, has four central components: 1) taking preventive action in the face of uncertainty; 2) shifting the burden of proof to the proponents of an activity; 3) exploring a wide range of alternatives to possibly harmful actions; and 4) increasing public participation in decision making. When setting collaborative targets, the precautionary principle argues that as great an area as possible be well managed to maintain or restore ecosystem services since those services are the foundation of the interests of most stakeholder groups.

6Let History be Your Guide Make but Make Sure your Targets are Ecologically Meaningful and Evidence Based: It is common that natural resource managers will want to establish targets that include restoring habitats or populations of key species to historical levels. This may include, for example restoring mangrove coverage to 1960 levels. However, if you chose to use temporal targets, be sure that these targets present an ecologically viable scenario for that ecosystem given contemporary demands on its services. Also, be sure that your target can be factually backed with available information. If you don’t have information or data on the condition of resources at a certain time in the past, it may be important instead to consider setting targets based on geographic coverage of ecosystems or management approaches.

7Make it Clear that Numerous Spatial Management Options are Possible: In establishing collaborative targets, it should be clear that the targets are just the first step. How to achieve the target will require intensive analysis typically including Marine Spatial Planning. Under Marine Spatial Planning approaches, numerous options to achieve the target are possible and these can be assessed based on their relative benefits and impacts to different stakeholder groups. Stakeholder groups should understand that setting ambitious collaborative targets does not automatically mean they will be negatively impacted, and the process of marine spatial planning is looking for solutions that optimize benefits and limit impacts as much as possible.

8Anticipate the Need for Alternatives: The ability of ecosystems to provide for the interest of all user groups can be limited depending on the demand for ecosystem services. For management to be effective, approaches that maintain ecosystem services are critical. This can often mean that alternatives to current resources uses must be identified and can be a key aspect of diffusing conflict. For example, certain commercial or artisanal fishing practices may no longer be viable if management targets are to be achieved. It’s important to acknowledging the need to assist stakeholder groups that will be impacted by these changes to develop alternative economic options. Following through with this assistance can help to diffuse conflict and pave a smooth path for adoption and pursuit of ambitious collaborative targets.

►Harvard’s Top 10 Negotiation Skills You Must Learn to Succeed

►Harvard’s 10 Hard-Bargaining Tactics to Watch Out for in a Negotiation

►Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation

►Stakeholder Engagement: Participatory Approaches for the Planning and Development of Marine Protected Areas

►Facilitating collaborative public decisions

►Stakeholder Engagement Strategies for Participatory Mapping

5.2.4 Developing Management Plans and Strategies

To effectively manage large coupled human-natural areas, it is important to develop, implement, and monitor multi-stakeholder plans. These plans take many forms including management plans, action plans, and strategies. The essential elements of these different formats are similar and include:

1Setting a long-term collective vision,

2Identifying resources that are important to different stakeholder groups and require management

3Identifying collaborative resource management targets,

4Identifying threats and problems that limit effective management of the resources and impede the achievement of the long-term vision,

5Identifying the genesis and root causes of those threats and problems,

6Identifying solutions or strategies to address those threats and problems,

7Developing shared goals, objectives, and outcomes that the project will work to achieve and indicators to help in monitoring progress,

8Developing actions and activities that will be pursued to achieve those goals, objectives, and outcomes, and

9Monitoring and evaluating progress on implementation and adaptively managing projects as needed.

Tips for engaging stakeholders in planning for management of large marine ecosystems are presented below:

1Consider the practicality of planning, coordination, and implementation in identifying the area to manage: When planning for management of large marine areas, it may be impractical to include all stakeholders in a meaningful way. As a result, it may be most effective either to limit the scale of the management area and/or to break the area into planning units where it is more practical to meaningfully include stakeholder groups. For example, Conservation International’s Seascape Identification process is based on ecosystem characteristics but explicitly includes practical considerations about the feasibility of coordination, stakeholder engagement, and governance of a proposed seascape. In many cases, areas that may have been included in a Seascape based on biogeographic criteria have not been included because it would have been impractical or too costly to include these areas in planning and coordination. Additionally, even once a large marine area has been chosen, planners may find it more effective to develop detailed plans by management units of the larger area that are practical for coordination and management.

2Be clear about when and how certain stakeholder groups should be involved: In developing the planning process, it is very important to identify when certain stakeholder groups should be involved and how they should be involved. For example, in planning with indigenous people’s groups that have recognized tenure of marine resources, it is very common to focus first on supporting those groups to identify their vision, desired outcomes, and objectives before engaging with other stakeholder groups. The Stakeholder Mapping Tool can help understand the interests and authority of key stakeholder groups and to determine when and how to involve them in planning.

3Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholder groups: It is very important that stakeholder groups understand their roles and responsibilities in planning. For example, are they expected to contribute to decision making or are they just providing input, but decisions will be made by others? Are they expected to represent a group of people in the planning process? If so, are they expected to secure the input of this group for key planning steps and keep them informed as the planning process progresses? Likewise, it is critical that planners understand exactly which stakeholder groups the participants represent. Individuals often are not able to represent the interests of entire stakeholder groups. If clear representation is needed, it may be important to consult with elected leaders or their designees to determine who can represent that stakeholder group. When such leaders are not clearly identified, it may then be important to consult with numerous members of a particular stakeholder group throughout the planning process.

4Secure prior and informed consent and set clear agreements for use of information: There is an unfortunate history of drawing on the knowledge and hospitality of stakeholders in resource management and research and not adequately protecting sensitive information or returning research results to these groups. Stakeholder groups should be approached as keepers of highly valuable and sensitive knowledge. As such, it should be clear and fully agreed to how any information provided by these groups can be used. Agreements whereby stakeholders provide prior and informed consent for use of their input are important. Likewise, Intellectual Property Agreements, Data Sharing Agreements, and Information Management Agreements are also important tools that can help to protect stakeholder knowledge and input in management planning processes. Ultimately these agreements not only protect this information, but they also work to build and maintain trust. While individual managers may be well trusted by stakeholder groups, everyone must recognize that these individuals are typically part of a larger system of which they may not have full control. As a result, establishing clear agreements and ensuring that institutions supporting management are aware of these agreements is very important. Finally, managers should understand that open and honest negotiation of these agreements can be very time consuming. Few stakeholder groups will be familiar with these agreements and typically the legal language can be confusing even in a person’s first language. A conscientious effort to be sure that stakeholders fully understand these agreements before they are signed is very important.

5Consider the cultural and livelihood needs of stakeholder groups: Some representatives of stakeholder groups are paid by their agencies or organizations to participate in planning processes, while others may have to spend significant time away from their livelihoods in order to participate. This can present a barrier to full participation. The coordinators of planning processes should keep this in mind and provide appropriate stipends or other support to remove barriers to participation and make sure that all invited stakeholders are able to participate in the process on an equal footing.

6Use planning tools that can be easily understood and interpreted: Some stakeholder groups may be well versed in planning processes while planning for other may be completely new. It’s important to use tools that fit with the level of experience and capacity of participating stakeholder groups. For example, one of the most challenging parts of planning can be the setting of objectives. The concept of establishing SMART objectives, which are now a standard for planning, can be difficult even for experienced planners. Finding easy to use tools that help with challenging processes can such as these are very important.

7Take breaks to engage as colleagues on fun, interesting, and productive activities: The planning process can be intense and often exhausting. Taking periodic breaks from planning to pursue engaging field activities such as work days or learning exchanges can help to revitalize planning teams and strengthen their interpersonal relationships. In any planning process it is recommended that small breaks to encourage team building be taken often during multi-day planning sessions. For planning processes that span several months, more significant breaks such as retreats, collaborative work breaks, and exchange visits be taken at least once or twice in the course of planning process.

8Apply engagement, facilitation, and conflict resolution techniques: The Facilitation and the Conflict Resolution sections of this toolkit provide tips on how to ensure that stakeholders from diverse groups can participate effectively in meetings and in workshops and how to avoid and resolve conflict. These approaches apply very well to engaging with stakeholders in planning and should be reviewed regularly when organizing and implementing planning processes.

►Large-Scale Marine Protected Areas: Guidelines for design and management

►Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation

5.3 PHASE 3: Involving Stakeholders in Implementation

5.3.1 Establishing coordination mechanisms

Given the multiple human activities that converge in ocean and coastal areas, effectively managing these resources requires coordinating actions among and between various stakeholder groups, particularly government agencies. In the past few years, several countries have created a ‘coordinating mechanism’ aimed at organizing their marine affairs. For example, Indonesia created the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Mexico established the Intersecretarial Commission for the Sustainable Management of Seas and Coasts. These efforts bring together many government agencies under one single management authority with specific mandates, competencies, and dedicated budgets. At smaller scales, however, this mechanism can take the shape of an ‘ocean health working group’ that should include local government agencies, scientific and academic experts, civil society (resource users), NGOs (social, environmental), and private sectors. By assembling a multidisciplinary working group, you ensure the tasks for implementing specific initiatives are adequately divided among the participants based on their specific competencies, as well as counting with a pluralistic system to include various values and perspectives. This working group can be responsible for:

Coordinating implementation of tasks in the work plan,

Provide important guidance to the technical teams in terms of stakeholder engagement, prioritization, monitoring and evaluations, and ensuring research and studies align with management and policy needs,

Actively engage with key stakeholders and decision-makers through the project process and after assessments are conducted to develop action plans that integrate the findings of the study into management and policy interventions,

Build capacities of specific stakeholder groups,

Lead the implementation of demonstration projects, etc.

5.3.2 Gathering and sharing baseline information (reference points)

Gathering baseline information is key to determining how effective are the management interventions at getting closer to the targets established in a strategy. While it is tempting to begin implementing an action plan without gathering baseline information, doing so will hamper the ability to apply adaptive management principles throughout the life of the interventions. Baseline information is also an important component in reporting progress and communicating success to stakeholders and donors alike. Tool: Creating reference points or baseline measures

In order to catalyze change, LME project managers and stakeholders need to understand what interventions/actions are causing the change and what are the trends and magnitudes of these changes. Likewise, it is important to understand how prevalent any problems and tendencies are, how often things happen, the duration and intensity of incidents (storms, temperature changes, primary productivity changes), etc. The things you keep track of in order to obtain this sort of information are called baseline measures (sometimes also referred to as targets or reference points. The baseline is the standard against which LME project managers will measure all subsequent changes implemented by the project interventions. We call them baselines because they’re usually shown as lines in graph form to easily show changes over time. Sometimes stakeholders may choose to establish an ideal condition or optimal scenario as a benchmark rather than using current conditions. This is often the case when baselines have shifted, where current conditions may represent significant changes from an even earlier state of the system, which may be deemed more appropriate. When reference points are used, it is important there are participatory processes involving all relevant stakeholders to establish consensus-based targets. Likewise, all parties involved should aim at setting targets that meet SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, and Time-bound. A structured approach for choosing among three types of reference points includes: (1) functional relationships which establish capacity of a system to deliver its benefits under different environmental conditions; (2) time series approaches that compare current to previous conditions in a specific geography; and (3) spatial reference points which compare current conditions in a given geography against a desired condition across regional (or, if necessary, global) scales. (Samhouri et al. 2011)

For example, shrimp farming is known to be one of the leading causes of mangrove deforestation, yet it provides important revenue and food for local populations. In Indonesia, stakeholders have noticed a high rate of mangrove loss and want to do something about it. As part of the TDA, the LME project needs to know what the existing conditions before project intervention are, and establish a SMART target for project activities, perhaps based on historical mangrove extent. During the TDA, stakeholders and project managers may gather data over a fixed period (ex. 6-12 months) to measure the rate of annual mangrove loss at the beginning of the project. Once the SAP activities have begun implementation, the PCU and relevant stakeholders may want to measure mangrove coverage periodically, comparing the new figure against the established baseline or target to measure progress and changes. Increasing, decreasing, or stable conditions over time, also known as trends, can help stakeholders know whether or not LME project interventions are working.

An indicator is anything that is measurable that can be used to identify a change in trends. An indicator can be the total mariculture production per kilometer of coastline throughout your state, the number of people working in ocean dependent industries, or the number of coastal tourists visiting a community in a year. Once indicators have been chosen, it has to be decided what exactly is going to be measured, and for how long. For example, will catch throughout the year or only for a period be measured? Will the market value of a fishery once a year or multiple times be measured? It’s possible that someone else has already measured these things; if so, then the information just needs to be verified (and, if necessary, updated).

►Community Tool Box: Developing Baseline Measures

5.3.3 Co-management approaches2

Environmental co-management is an inclusive, consensus-based approach to resource use and development that takes stakeholders beyond their commitments to formal agreements. It requires a partnership approach that involves governments, local communities, private sectors, indigenous representative organizations, researchers and NGOs. The partners share the authority and responsibility for the management of specific environmental resources within a defined area.

Environmental co-management is proactive and moves stakeholders beyond simple regulatory compliance, while also providing benefits for the parties involved. Those benefits can include new investments and employment opportunities, and a means to access and manage landscapes and seascapes according to cultural traditions.

For co-management systems to be effective, they must recognize the value of traditional knowledge and its equivalence to modern science. In particular, the use of traditional environmental and cultural knowledge in the environmental assessment process could be recognized in legislation. This produces assessments that are more complete, apply to a wider array of risks, address issues of specific importance to local communities, are more relevant to indigenous people, and encourage meaningful participation and relationship building.

Adaptive co-management systems are variants of the co-management approach discussed above. They use “flexible community-based systems of resource management tailored to specific places and situations and supported by and working with various organizations at different levels” (Olsson et al. 2004). The main difference is that they incorporate a larger range of stakeholders to produce management outcomes that apply to a wider area and longer span of time

Adaptive co-management contributes to the ongoing resilience of social and environmental values by combining dynamic learning with the partnership aspect of collaborative management. To be successful, it relies upon:

Enabling legislation and agreements that create space for collaboration in ecosystem management,

Adequate funding to respond to environmental change and permit remedial action,

Appropriate monitoring, including local people’s involvement in monitoring

Consultation of a variety of data sources to gain the most accurate information,

Good information flow and social networks involving all people connected with ecosystem management,

Strong values and a vision for ecosystem management, and

Opportunities for collaborative learning.

Effective environmental co-management programs can be used to promote strong partnerships and high standards of environmental management on work sites and across entire geographies, creating potential benefits for local communities and the private sector. In particular, programs that respect traditional knowledge help build communities by supporting the local economy and enhancing the confidence and skills of the local workforce.

Partnerships between communities, governments, and the private sector to adopt environmental co-management practices can produce some of the following benefits:

Maintaining and transmitting traditional knowledge and skills to next generations,

Gaining a focus for trusted relationships and power sharing,

Developing pride, confidence, work habits and a lifelong learning culture to support younger generations,

Increasing business development opportunities for sustainable livelihoods and economic development, and

Building community and cultural resilience.

Private sector companies and government agencies benefit by using community employees and knowledge as part of their environmental management programs. Sponsoring or contracting local people to manage their landscapes and seascapes for conservation and to re-establish customary management practices that have biodiversity or other positive environmental outcomes allows companies to offset some of the environmental impacts of their operations. They also place themselves and nearby communities in a position from which a skilled workforce, capable of managing environmental challenges, can be created and trained throughout the life of multiple initiatives.

►Co-management of national parks with traditional owners

5.3.4 Seeking and implementing agreements and policies

Once priorities have been identified, clarifying interests, brainstorming to invent options, and determining potential solutions, agreements on how to proceed will still need to be reached. A consensus agreement is one that all participants can accept or “live with.” Ideally, the group consensus will reflect strong support from all stakeholders. However, not all stakeholders need to strongly support all elements of the agreement for the group to reach consensus, defined as “no dissent.”

It is recommended that consensus building groups seek—but do not require-- unanimous agreement of all participants within the time frame set at the outset of the process in order to complete the group’s work. If unanimity cannot be achieved, it is very important that the group as a whole is not “held hostage” to one or a small number of participants who might use an unanimity requirement to block agreement and implementation. It is also important to ensure that representatives have checked with their constituencies before indicating whether they can support the final package.

The way that a group deals with outstanding issues and dissatisfied participants at the end of a process can be key to whether or not the group is able to reach consensus. On issues where the group cannot easily find a solution that satisfies all participants, the group should pursue the following strategies:

Seek wise trade-offs,

Create contingent agreements, and

Use agreed standards of fairness/objective people to make decisions.

In some cases, despite the group’s best efforts, it is not possible to reach a full consensus, that is, an agreement that all participants can “live with.” If it is not possible to achieve consensus, then there are several options for reaching decisions:

Voting, perhaps with the requirement that a super-majority (e.g. 2/3) of participants support the proposed agreement,

If the group is providing recommendations rather than making decisions, provide a report that explicitly distinguishes recommendations on which there is full consensus, recommendations on which a majority or supermajority of all stakeholder groups agree, and recommendations on which there is no (super)majority agreement, and

Referring the issues in dispute to an independent individual or group that is recognized as competent and legitimate by all group participants and seeking a non-binding recommendation or a binding decision on how to resolve the issue.

Stakeholders are asked to endorse the final recommendations. It is extremely important to devise a means of holding the parties to their commitments. Some agreements can be nearly self-enforcing, because they are closely aligned with the interests of all stakeholders and no additional resources are needed to implement them. Others may require legal or regulatory changes, additional resources and/or organizational capacity building to be fully implemented. It is very important for the group to specify the steps that will be taken and who must take them to ensure that the agreement will be formalized and implemented.

Often, the results of a consensus building process are advisory and must be reviewed and adopted (partially or in full) by a set of elected or appointed officials. If there has been clarity from the beginning of the process about the relationship between the group consensus building process and final decision making, there should be no surprises at this stage. However, in some cases political and institutional forces beyond the control of the group, and beyond the control of the decision makers themselves, may cause serious problems. For example, a group could reach agreement on a plan to substantially expand the marine protected areas in a given geography with the understanding that the plan would be incorporated into the region’s public environmental authority’s budget. In fact, a change in government leadership after the process began might lead to a reduction in the public commitment to protected areas. Or, even if the government remained strongly supportive, there might be changes in the government’s financial ability that made it difficult to gain a sufficient budget for the program.

When the results of the process cannot fully bind political or institutional leaders, it is very important to use whatever sense of common identity and common goals has been built in the group to develop a strategy for influencing decision makers. That strategy might include face-to-face meetings between a number of group participants and senior government officials; formal submission of group recommendations to the appropriate body, accompanied by media coverage, and/or dialogue with international aid agencies to encourage them to make the program a priority in their dialogue with government.

Even where adequate resources (financial, political and organizational) are available to support implementation, periodic monitoring and review are essential to assess whether implementation is achieving the group’s goals, and to respond to new information and circumstances. Ideally, monitoring systems should be joint (i.e. involving representatives of all key stakeholder groups), and should periodically assess whether the agreed actions are achieving their underlying goals.

If the agreement included contingent commitments, then monitoring of those contingencies is essential, since they may trigger for further action. For example, if an environmental agency said that it could only support a river cleanup agreement if the water came into compliance with water quality standards within one year, it would have a strong interest in monitoring implementation to determine whether that requirement was being met. If monitoring raised serious questions, the monitoring findings might trigger a review of river cleanup activities, and/or a revised cleanup strategy.

Finally, whether there are contingent agreements or not, it is a good idea for any agreement reached by a consensus building group to include a mechanism by which participants can be re-assembled if there is a change in circumstances, a failure on the part of some participants to live up to their commitments, and/or a new opportunity to achieve joint goals through a different strategy. Periodic meetings of the stakeholders can promote stronger long-term relationships and reduce the risk that some representatives perceive others to be unresponsive if difficulties do arise.

►Negotiating Environmental Agreements: How to Avoid Escalating Confrontation Needless Costs and Unnecessary Litigation

►Knowing When not to Push for Broad Stakeholder Consensus: The Alaskan Way Viaduct Story

►Multi-Stakeholder Consensus Building by the Consensus Building Institute

5.4 PHASE 4: Working with Stakeholders on Monitoring and Evaluations

Several tools (links provided below) explain the value of engaging stakeholders in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) for resource management and development projects. This approach is often referred to as Participatory M&E, and according to training developed by the World Bank (link below) is a “process through which stakeholders at various levels engage in monitoring or evaluating a particular project, program or policy, share control over the content, the process and the results of the M&E activity and engage in taking or identifying corrective actions.” Conventional M&E approaches often rely on outside evaluators measuring the performance of a project based on a standardized process and performance indicators. Participatory M&E on the other hand, emphasizes involving stakeholders in activities that help them to identify strengths and weaknesses of programs in which they are involved or that are relevant to them. This typically includes an emphasis on stakeholders identifying and solving problems themselves and as a result building their capacity for effective project implementation.

Stakeholders that are engaged in participatory M&E often include: the beneficiaries of a development project, government agencies engaged in implementation of the project, community members, NGOs, the private sector, and others that are either helping to implement the project or are intended to benefit from it.

The tools found in the links below summarize the following general elements of Participatory M&E.

1Participatory M&E aims to build capacity, promote transparency, foster decentralization, encourage coordination and development of partnerships.

2Measuring progress towards agreed objectives, understanding the trends of the ecological, economic, political, and socio-cultural conditions of the area as well as monitoring the impact of the interventions and overall goals by all stakeholders is critical to inform adaptive management.

3For Participatory M&E to be effective, local, national and regional actors should be involved, learn and be trained to analyze, act and take responsibility over progress.

4Stakeholder engagement mechanisms for monitoring and evaluation should be innovative, identify levels of participation possible at the different governance scales and determine the adequate entry point to ensure constructive feedback. This requires for the appropriate institutional arrangements to be in place to allow effective participation in decision making and feedback systems. Local public forums, policy dialogues, targeted debates, outreach campaigns should also have a role to ensure overall engagement of stakeholders.

Advantages of stakeholder participation in M&E, as summarized in the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) Programme Manager’s Planning Monitoring & Evaluation Toolkit (link below) include:

“Ensures that the M&E findings are relevant to local conditions;”

“Gives stakeholders a sense of ownership over M&E results thus promoting their use to improve decision-making;”

“Increases local level capacity in M&E which in turn contributes to self-reliance in overall programme implementation;”

“Increases the understanding of stakeholders of their own programme strategy and processes; what works, does not work and why;”

“Contributes to improved communication and collaboration between programme actors who are working at different levels of programme implementation;”

“Strengthens accountability to donors;”

“Promotes a more efficient allocation of resources”

A thorough review of this tool and other tools below is encouraged, because they provide detailed guidance on when and how to involve stakeholders in Participatory M&E.

►Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation: Principles, Action Steps, Challenges

►Stakeholder Participation in Monitoring and Evaluation

►Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation