Stakeholder dialogues in IWRM


Consultation & Cooperation

Selecting the right approach for your engagement process

Depending on the issues, the initiators and the purpose, Stakeholder Dialogues can be implemented in different forms. If consultation is at the forefront, once-off stakeholder workshops or a sequence of stakeholder workshops can integrate different viewpoints into planning or decision-making. If collaboration and joint implementation is at the forefront, regular stakeholder meetings become part of an overall strategy for implementation and cooperation.

One can distinguish broadly between two underlying purposes of Stakeholder Dialogues:

  • Stakeholder Dialogues that are geared towards consultation: the structured integration of viewpoints and interests from different stakeholders; and
  • Stakeholder Dialogues that have a stronger focus on cooperation and implementation: the collaboration of different stakeholders to achieve a jointly agreed goal.

In consultative Stakeholder Dialogues, the role of stakeholders is to contribute their expertise, their viewpoints and their experiences. What happens with the input or with recommendations is the responsibility of the leading stakeholder initiator. In cooperative Stakeholder Dialogues, stakeholders are often more active in the joint steering of an implementation process. With a strong focus on implementation, the commitment to collaborate and to take joint responsibility for outcomes and success increases. Stakeholders move from being observers to being active in achieving results.

This continuum is presented in the Stakeholder Dialogues graphic, below. Use it, the overview table and case studies of Stakeholder Dialogues in the water sector to select the right approach for your engagement process.

FormFeaturePurposeRecommended for
Singular Stakeholder ConsultationStakeholder event (from information to authentic consultation)To raise stakeholders’ interest in or awareness of a particular issue
To get feedback from different stakeholders about a specific issue
  • Policy input
  • Strategy input
  • Research input
  • Planning input
  • Exchange of experience
Sequences of Regular Stakeholder ConsultationConsultative Stakeholder events leading to a specific outcomeTo let stakeholders participate in a development or decision-making process, or to exchange experiences among stakeholders
  • Policy development
  • Policy review
  • Planning review
  • Strategy review
  • Stakeholder recommendations are integrated into results
Institutionalized Stakeholder ConsultationGovernment-led stakeholder consultation embedded in regulationsTo regulate input by stakeholders on certain issues of policy or planning development (as part of good governance)
  • Institutionalized policy review
  • Institutionalized planning review
  • Regulated stakeholder participation in planning
  • Stakeholder representation follows regulated rules
Stakeholder Platform (Exchange)Regular coming together of different stakeholders for an exchange of experienceTo develop joint recommendations, to use the opportunity to meet different stakeholders, to ensure advocacy for stakeholder interests
  • Representation of stakeholders in organized body
  • Stakeholder advocacy
  • Regular exchange of lessons learnt
  • Advocacy for political or economic development agenda
FormFeaturePurposeRecommended for
Stakeholder InitiativeCross-sector initiative to solve complex problems, to develop joint policy and/or sustainability standards or to achieve agreed-upon implementation objectivesTo develop and implement new approach, voluntary standards, new policy, complex project jointlyComplex project management through
  • Joint implementation steering
  • Creating joint responsibility for change and results
  • Joint monitoring and evaluation
  • Joint decision-making
Stakeholder Initiatives often require:
  • Governance mechanisms
  • Agreed-upon steering structure (steering committee, executive committee)
Stakeholder Platform (Implementation)Joint management of implementation regarding an issue of common concernTo ensure joint management of complex tasks by different stakeholders
  • Voluntary coming together of different stakeholders to improve management of certain task
Stakeholder PartnershipCross-sector implementation project to achieve agreed-upon objectivesTo achieve specific project results with complementary resources in specific timeframeCollaborative implementation projects and strategic alliances requiring:
  • Joint implementation planning
  • Joint implementation of activities
  • Joint monitoring of results
  • Joint responsibility for success
  • Joint decision-making
  • Management structures in place
  • Often require formal contracts
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