How can consultation and cooperation among stakeholders and development partners be better facilitated/managed/fostered?
Key Question Categor(ies):Integration across Sectors
Selection of Stakeholders: the Critical Groundwater Areas primarily are located within the western portion of Umatilla County and the Planning Commission recognized that basin-wide water use needed to be addressed before any plans were developed. The members of the Task Force were chosen based upon their respective geographic areas rather than vocational, urban, or Tribal designations. Members were selectively chosen by the Board of Commissioners based upon level of commitment to resolve the water management issue, not to represent vested interests or groups.
Task Force agreed upon a methodology: after the Task Force was created, they based their public involvement/outreach strategy loosely along the lines of the principles of Collaborative Learning, which was designed at Oregon State University.(Daniels, S. E., & Walker, G. B. 2001). This methodology utilizes systems thinking processes to structure conflict management and foster alternative dispute resolution, which is useful in broad natural resource situations with a variety of stakeholder involvement.
Key Tools and Frameworks
The key tools that were essential to success in this process were the stakeholder issue assessment, stakeholder identification, collaborative problem solving, interest-based negotiation, professional mediation, and transparency.
The stakeholder issue assessment was critical for defining the issues and concerns, identifying stakeholders to represent the key interests, and designing a process that was responsive to political dynamics and the task at hand. The impartial mediation and facilitation team was able to make recommendations on the process for going forward. For example, during the assessment, mediators observed that the region had a high degree of distrust and was hesitant about issues of representation so the facilitation team recommended the large, open groundwater stakeholder forum as a tool to vet and recommend the proposals that would ultimately move forward.
Identifying stakeholders to participate in the process was also a critical tool or element of the process. Low trust and collaborative capacity among stakeholders emerged during the stakeholder assessment. The mediation team worked with interest groups to identify representatives that would have credibility to represent each interest in the smaller collaborative work group. The mediators met with representatives of agriculture to clarify different segments, such as berry growers and processors in addition to other agricultural interests. And, the mediators met several times with environmental organizations to help them understand the law and the negotiate representation. In addition, the mediators networked with different nongovernmental organizations and agencies to identify rural residential well owners and disadvantaged community representatives who might participate in the collaborative work group.
Collaborative problem solving framework including interest-based negotiation were critical to this process. The process design focused on educating participants about the law and its requirements, and stakeholders informing one another about their interests. Understanding each other's’ interests was necessary so participants could craft solutions that were responsive to the range of interests engaged in the process. The participants used interest-based negotiation to identify and evaluate solutions.
Lastly, professional mediators played an instrumental role in bringing stakeholders together and assisting with negotiations. The mediators created a process structure in which the parties were able to engage productively and negotiate outcomes that considered all the perspectives being shared. The mediators also worked to engage the broader public along the way, scheduling groundwater stakeholder forum meetings for the public and preparing communication materials on the web site and for work group members to share with constituents.
Transparency was another important element of success. The communication tools helped to engage the broader community, raising awareness and creating widespread support. All meetings were open to the public. The project had a web site (www.salinasgroundwater.org, now www.svbgsa.com) that was updated regularly with all materials and process information.
Key Tools and Frameworks The key tools that were essential to success in this process were the stakeholder issue assessment, stakeholder identification, collaborative problem solving, interest-based negotiation, professional mediation, and transparency.
The stakeholder issue assessment was critical for defining the issues and concerns, identifying stakeholders to represent the key interests, and designing a process that was responsive to political dynamics and the task at hand. The impartial mediation and facilitation team was able to make recommendations on the process for going forward.
Collaborative problem solving framework including interest-based negotiation were critical to this process. The process design focused on educating participants about the law and its requirements, and agencies informing one another about their stakeholders' interests. Understanding each other's’ interests was necessary so participants could craft solutions that were responsive to the range of interests engaged in the process. The participants used interest-based negotiation to identify and evaluate solutions.
Professional mediators played an instrumental role in bringing agency stakeholders together and assisting with negotiations. The mediators created a process structure in which the parties were able to engage productively and consider outcomes that considered all the perspectives being shared. Amongst other outcomes, this resulted in Advisory Boards for each GSA where agricultural, rural, and environmental interests are represented and can oversee the process of achieving long-run groundwater sustainability.
Transparency was another important element of success. The mediators also worked to engage the broader public along the way, scheduling groundwater stakeholder forum meetings for the public and preparing communication materials on the web site and for work group members to share with constituents. The communication tools helped to engage the broader community, raising awareness and creating widespread support. All meetings were open to the public. A website (sonomacountygroundwater.org) continues to document ongoing progress by each GSA and provides notifications about prior and upcoming meetings.
- Without stakeholder participation in the management of water resources, efficiency and effectiveness are limited.
With little or no stakeholder participation in the management of the Lake Titicaca basin, ALT has only been minimally effective at producing results. It is clear that a more comprehensive system of inclusion of the public is needed to take place in order for the Authority to complete its goals. If three out of the four problems identified by the institution deal with the people's actions on the water and land in the basin, then they must be included for optimal functioning of the initiative. Otherwise, gaps and resentment are created by an organization acting above those who most use the lake.
As the case overview outlines, the Northeast Regional Ocean Planning Process had a robust stakeholder engagement process. The process included different methods and meetings for stakeholders to get involved, different locations, and different levels of engagement.
Perhaps most notable in this case, the stakeholder engagement process was integrated into the ocean planning process from early on. It was not just a one stop check box for general input, but a thoughtful and coordinated approach throughout every phase of planning. This is a valuable lesson for other processes as it helped ensure stakeholders were engaged early on and had meaningful input throughout.
If the Northeast Regional Planning Body had not integrated such engagement throughout, it is unlikely that their final Plan would be as widely supported. Often times, in such circumstances, stakeholders instead feel they are asked to rubber stamp something that has already been decided. By engaging early on, incorporating feedback throughout, and continuing to dialogue, the Northeast ocean planning process was more effective in their stakeholder engagement.
In addition, the engagement process was facilitated by third-party neutrals which allowed for productive and meaningful conversations between decision-makers on the NE RPB and the broader community of ocean users. The third-party neutral team also provided neutral documentation of the meetings that allowed all parties to be on the same page with what feedback needed to be incorporated into the planning process.
Stakeholder participation should be included at all levels of decision-making processes for optimal mutual gain. When local populations were not included on the decision-making processes within the Senegal River basin, there tended to be frustration, confusion and economic losses directly as a result of not participating. Participation by all stakeholders can only benefit all groups involved in making agreements more sustainable, mutually beneficial and efficient.
Involving all relevant stakeholders would go far beyond government ministries or local water districts to bring in representatives from agriculture, tourism, industry, conservation, and others. This will help with building trust and also transparency to the decisions, while ultimately achieving buy-in among the stakeholders.
Values Many stakeholders only acknowledge actions that have taken place or plan for a terminal output, such as a dam or irrigation diversion. This ‘conclusion thinking’ disregards the values and underlying principles that guide those wants. Ultimately, this limits creativity and drives a ‘winner and loser’ negotiation where one achieves the end goal, or they are unsatisfied with the result. By working to identify underlying values, more creativity can produce deeper and far reaching results for many more parties. This step supports the notion that the resources available could be much larger than, creating a ‘bigger pie.’ In a peri-developed country in the process of rebuilding, acknowledging common goals and understandings can have a far-reaching impact beyond the realm of water.
Accountability from within and outside the country is important to build trust in the process of any agreement. Being held to agreements and priorities is vital in a country where skepticism between stakeholders is rampant. A non-partisan third party with authority over all stakeholders is necessary to make this achievable. Establishing this outside party would prove difficult, as neutrality is scarce, especially within a single nation, but an outside party that is able to cut through local and national politics would be vital to the process.
From: River Basin Management and Environment Protection through a Conservation Trust Fund in Quito, Ecuador
Once information was gathered about the nature and location of threats to key ecological features in the Quito watershed, consultation among downstream stakeholders produced a mechanism to alleviate and mitigate the environmental threats. The creation of FONAG is an example of multiple knowledge frames harmonizing toward the common goal of ecological preservation that stand to benefit all stakeholders in the long-term. The governance structure of the fund demonstrates an effective way to incentivize stakeholder participation, which in context is monetary contribution. Without a harmonized knowledge framework, however, it is unlikely that incentives would lead to cooperation between stakeholders.
From: The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery and San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Programs
This case demonstrates how the right negotiation conditions, transparency, time to develop trust, and other factors foster cooperation.
The government of Islamic Republic of Iran established the Urmia Lake Restoration Program (ULRP) in 2013. This program is under auspices of the President and then has more power than of the former program initiated by DOE. After several meetings, this program produced a set of guidelines, including 19 potential solutions for the lake. One of these solutions was to rent the lands of the Zarrinehrud River (which provides roughly 40% of all inflow to the lake) from farmers who did not harvest during winter seasons of the preceding three years. However, this solution was rejected by members of the local parliament who claimed the plan would negatively impact employment and waste funding on farmers, who do not possess effective tools to invest. Another solution mentioned by the ULRP was reallocation of water among the lake's three neighboring provinces. When applied, however, this approach resulted in each province making greater demands, and ultimately claiming more water.
Consensus building among these stakeholders is vital to the survival of the lake. As the ULRP lacks the authority to enforce compliance among local provinces, agricultural and water ministries, and parliamentary units, the introduction of a "water parliament" is one solution in which all formal stakeholders can receive equitable consideration toward the development of a successful mandatory policy.
In the Las Vegas Valley, municipalities competing for a limited water supply led to great inefficiencies. The formation of a cooperative water management utility created incentives for conservation and led to decreased water demands. Serious near-term shortages sparked interest in cooperation but good leadership was critical in navigating the transition.