Identifying and Characterizing Interested Parties

 

 

This appendix provides a framework to systematically identify and characterize the external parties that may have an interest in participating in your collective action effort. This appendix describes six analysis areas capable of answering the key questions, described in Identifying and Characterizing Prospective Participants, related to characterizing external parties for potential involvement in your collective action. Through these analyses, you are able to link the interested parties with the collective action areas you identified in Scoping Water Challenges and Action Areas. The decision of how to engage a given interested party is strongly tied to the results of your analyses and is covered in more detail in Designing Collective Action Engagement and Structuring and Managing.

Decision-point analysis: Which external parties have a direct influence over, or are required to participate in, any decisions that will be needed to address your water management-related challenges? For example, if you have identified infrastructure fees as inadequate to fund needed infrastructure upgrades (e.g., the need to add capacity at a publicly owned treatment works) and a board of local elected officials approves all infrastructure fee increases, then the members of this council are critical interested parties. These interested parties emerge from the role they play in addressing an existing water resource management system deficiency.

Opportunity analysis: Which external parties are in a position to directly or indirectly support addressing your water management-related challenges? For example, if improved land use stewardship is needed to improve water quality, interested parties that either directly affect land use practices (e.g., commercial agriculture operators) or have as part of their mission improved land use practices (e.g., a local nongovernmental organization focused on providing sustainable land use technical assistance) will be critical interested parties. These interested parties emerge from the role they play in altering a key driver of water quality impacts within the water resource system—agricultural land use practices that can discharge sediment, nutrients, bacteria, or other pollutants into water bodies.

Expertise analysis: Which external parties can contribute knowledge and advice to improve problem characterization, or expand or refine the understanding of solutions? For example, in the agricultural land use arena, university researchers and extension services may provide expertise on the effectiveness and applicability of improved practices, while public policy researchers may have data on the effectiveness of various market-based or regulatory interventions. The former interested parties are associated with the driver of the water quality challenge, while the latter are associated with addressing deficiencies of the water resource management system.

Impacts analysis: Which external parties will experience benefits, and which will experience costs associated with addressing your identified water resource management challenges? Any parties that will experience either substantial benefits or costs are likely candidates for collective action engagement. Those experiencing benefits are likely to be strong allies for problem-solving action, while those experiencing net costs will likely require careful, focused management to avoid efforts to block progress. For example, a water supply disruption challenge is likely shared by all other large commercial water users in your catchment. These are parties likely to have a high interest in and willingness to participate in a collective action engagement. A key basis of effective collective action relates to engaging parties with whom you share risks and benefits. As a result, a focus on exploring which parties share your water-related challenges is a priority for this analysis.

Expectations analysis: Which external parties have an interest in the collective action process or its outcomes, even if they might not otherwise have a specific role to play in problem solving or a connection to the distribution of costs and benefits? For example, elected officials may expect to be consulted on any large infrastructure projects planned within their jurisdiction, or your collective action process may be operating within an administrative law context that requires consultation with specified parties.

Conflict analysis: Which external parties currently (or potentially will) experience conflicts with you or other potential parties to the process in a manner that can influence the options available for addressing your identified water management challenges? This analysis may overlap with the other areas of analysis, pointing to the need, for example, for a careful strategy to engage one or more of the parties identified under the decision-point analysis. Where conflict exists, or has the potential to emerge, it will be necessary to take proactive steps to adjust either the collective action process approach or the remedies contemplated for addressing the identified challenges.

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