Tool 6: Support Materials for a Participatory Planning Process

This tool consists of an overview of the importance of participatory planning processes to the integrity of WSIs, introduction to key principles and commonly used approaches, and useful reference material.

Tool A broad overview of the importance of participatory planning processes to the integrity of WSIs, introduction to key principles and commonly used approaches, and useful reference material.
Related Key Activities Define scope, objectives, and public interest benefits of the WSI.
Purpose Build legitimacy and credibility, and avoid conflicts and capture through balanced stakeholder engagement:

  • Identify interests and needs of affected stakeholders to inform the planning process.
  • Expand the knowledge and resources that inform WSI development and implementation
Possible Users WSI facilitators, managers, and coordinators.
Level of Effort Inherent to the facilitation and management of WSIs.
WSI Phase Throughout the life cycle of the WSI.

Effective stakeholder engagement is key to ensuring the needs, knowledge, perspectives, and interests of those impacted by the WSI are represented. Poor stakeholder engagement can negatively impact WSIs in several ways: among other things, it can lead to inappropriate or uninformed design, undermine durable outcomes, and contribute to stakeholder conflict. Further, where affected stakeholders are not involved adequately, WSIs cannot be assured to act in the public interest, and the lack of gatekeeping may increase capture risks.

Conversely, the active involvement of stakeholders provides important knowledge about the WSI context, which is required to mitigate integrity risks. Good participatory processes pass a sense of ownership to those involved (or affected), and thereby establish the credibility and legitimacy of the WSI and contribute to sustainability and transparency. In addition, proper stakeholder engagement ensures that affected stakeholders are adequately informed about the initiative, its progress, and possible obstacles, which constitutes the basis for accountability of WSIs.

Guidance for implementation

Selected guidance documents to support stakeholder engagement processes:

The CEO Water Mandate’s Guide to Water-Related Collective Action (2013) targets private sector stakeholders with an interest in corporate water stewardship.

  • Guidance for stakeholder engagement specified to the conditions of WSIs
  • Case examples and lessons learned are documented as a practical reference
  •  Needs to be partly adapted for communication with types of stakeholders other than the private sector
  • Specific interventions need to be established based on generic guidance and case examples

The International Council on Mining & Metals has provided a practical guidance to identify stakeholders, clarify their concerns and aspirations, delineate engagement objectives, and initiate iterative consultation, as well as to communicate intentions, evaluate progress, and maintain engagement.

  • Guidance specified to the conditions of WSIs that involve mining companies, with lots of relevant information for stakeholder mapping and context analysis
  • Step-wise guidance for stakeholder engagement at certain phases of WSIs
  • Abundant references to additional literature
  • Only parts of the guide (“external engagement”) are relevant for WSIs
  • Not all aspects of stakeholder engagement that are relevant for WSIs are addressed in detail

The AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard (AccountAbility 2011)provides advice on: (1) how to establish the necessary commitment to stakeholder engagement, and how to ensure it is fully integrated in strategy and operations; (2) how to define the purpose, scope, and stakeholders of the engagement; and (3) what a quality stakeholder engagement process looks like.

  • Comprehensive, practical guidance for the design of stakeholder engagement strategies that contribute to enhance accountability of organizations and initiatives
  • Helpful, process-oriented elaboration of what constitutes good stakeholder engagement
  • Needs to be adapted from a primary focus on individual organization’s efforts to engage stakeholders to the context of WSIs
  • Specific requirements are needed to ensure stakeholder engagement contributes to the SWM needed (e.g., building on existing sector institutions)

The National Forest Programme and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (O’Hara 2009) provide guidance on relevant tools and methodologies for stakeholder engagement processes, as well as a training manual on enhancing stakeholder participation.

  • Tangible tools for stakeholder engagement suggested
  • Similar requirements for multi-stakeholder initiatives in forestry and water, both of which be considered as commons
  • Needs to be adapted to river basin and watershed management
  • Role of corporate stakeholders not specifically addressed

Additional information


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