Why stakeholder involvement in climate adaptation?

Climate and resilience literature indicates that adequate stakeholder involvement is essential for the development and implementation of adaptation strategies1)International Risk Governance Council, 2012. An introduction to the IRGC Risk Governance Framework 3)SWD, 2013, Guidelines on developing adaptation strategies, Commission staff working document, European Commission, Brussels, 134 final2)ECA, 2009, Shaping Climate-resilient development, a framework for decision making, a report of the economics of climate adaptation working group. Adaptation strategies require actions that, for the short-medium term and for longer, provide valuable contributions in risk reduction. Such strategy development can be seen as a complex and ambiguous risk management process, than can only be carried out effectively in close consultation of and collaboration with the stakeholders involved. Developing a strategy and implementing a plan to cope with such a complex challenge has a higher chance of success if stakeholder engagement is done in a professional way: taking into account all interests and involving all relevant stakeholders 4)Geerdink, Willems, Botteman, Schellekens, Knapp and Schwingenschloegl, 2015, RESIN Actor analysis urban climate adaptation, methods and tools in support of stakeholder analysis and involvement, D6.1 Actor analysis 151030

Why is it a key challenge?

Planning for successful climate change adaptation strategies requires involvement of many different stakeholders. There are many different stakeholders, and even more persons involved with different interests, perspectives, disciplines, knowledge and experiences. Furthermore, collaboration between the stakeholders (public and private) with different interests and responsibilities is needed 5)Geerdink, Willems, Botteman, Schellekens, Knapp and Schwingenschloegl, 2015, RESIN Actor analysis urban climate adaptation, methods and tools in support of stakeholder analysis and involvement, D6.1 Actor analysis 151030. The involvement of stakeholders in the climate adaptation planning process is experienced by many European cities as one of the key challenges in climate adaptation, such as the cities of Paris, Bratislava, Manchester, Bilbao and Almada. The question is who to involve, when to involve and how to do this?

Stakeholder involvement is needed to gather knowledge about their concerns, perspectives on risk, the (social) response to risk, to create (risk) awareness and trust, to collect (local) knowledge, and to contribute to risk reduction. Hence, a good understanding of stakeholder’s interests and position is essential. Stakeholders may have different roles and positions at the various stages of a strategy development and implementation. The timely involvement of the right stakeholders contributes to well considered decisions for measures with impact 6)Geerdink, Willems, Botteman, Schellekens, Knapp and Schwingenschloegl, 2015, RESIN Actor analysis urban climate adaptation, methods and tools in support of stakeholder analysis and involvement, D6.1 Actor analysis 151030.

How to involve stakeholders in climate adaptation?

In order to involve the right stakeholders at the right time a good understanding of the stakeholders involved is necessary to  be able to select stakeholders for involvement in the adaptation planning process. So first a good understanding of the context, and the stakeholders is needed to be able to select stakeholders. The second step is to design a stakeholder involvement process.

Who to involve?

A well-prepared stakeholder analysis is a first step to identify who needs to be involved, and to understand what are interests and positions of respective stakeholders. The outcome of a stakeholder analysis is a good understanding of who is affected by and can affect a decision; who can contribute in developing potential solutions, preparing the conditions for decision making; or implementing the selected options. Without a structural stakeholder analysis it is possible that important stakeholder groups are neglected, leading to biased results and with no full support for the decisions made 7) Reed, M.S., Graves, A., Dandy, N., Posthumus, H., Hubacek, K., Morris, J., Prell, C., Quinn, C.H. and Stringer, L.C. (2009) Who’s in and why? A typology of stakeholder analysis methods for natural resource management, Journal of Environmental Management 90, 1933-1949  The composition of stakeholders will likely change over time, and the roles they play will differ from one step in the adaptation planning process to a next step. Therefore, stakeholder analysis should be a recurring activity throughout the planning process. There are various methods and tools to conduct a stakeholder analysis, such as an influence matrix and knowledge mapping. a proper stakeholder analysis involves all three activities.

Three activities can be distinguished in a stakeholder analysis:

  1. Identification of stakeholders,
  2. Differentiating between and categorizing stakeholders
  3. Identification of relationships between stakeholder

For each of these activities several methods are available, see the figure below8) Reed, M.S., Graves, A., Dandy, N., Posthumus, H., Hubacek, K., Morris, J., Prell, C., Quinn, C.H. and Stringer, L.C. (2009) Who’s in and why? A typology of stakeholder analysis methods for natural resource management, Journal of Environmental Management 90, 1933-1949 .

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stakeholders process

Based on the stakeholder analysis a good understand of the stakeholders has been reached. Now the stakeholders who have to be involved can be selected. The next step is the actual involvement of stakeholders.

Involvement

To involve the many different stakeholders in the climate adaptation planning process, a well-designed process is needed. There is not one general way to do it. A well-tailored approach is needed with attention for transparency, open communication, trust and relationships, roles and responsibilities. Another crucial element in the involvement of stakeholders is time to create trust and commitment. Stakeholder involvement is a time-consuming process.

Levels of involvement

ladder of participation

Levels of involvement  (Arnstein, 1969)

9)Arnstein, Sherry R.(1969) ‘A Ladder Of Citizen Participation’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 35: 4, 216 — 224

Communication

Communication is crucial in the climate adaptation process. Both internal and external communication are important in all phases of the climate adaptation process. A communication strategy is important to develop to communicate internally and externally. Key elements of a communication strategy are:

  • Communication goal and objective
  • Target groups
  • What to communicate: message
  • Timing: when to communicate
  • Communication form and channels
  • Supportive communication methods and tools

Most encountered in

This challenge is encountered in all phases in the adaptation planning process. It is crucial to understand who the key stakeholders are and what their interests, responsibilities and their positions are in the beginning of the adaptation planning process. This is to develop a well-tailored stakeholder management strategy.  Since stakeholders may have different roles and positions at the various stages of a strategy development and implementation, the stakeholder management strategy needs to be regularly updated.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. International Risk Governance Council, 2012. An introduction to the IRGC Risk Governance Framework
2. ECA, 2009, Shaping Climate-resilient development, a framework for decision making, a report of the economics of climate adaptation working group
3. SWD, 2013, Guidelines on developing adaptation strategies, Commission staff working document, European Commission, Brussels, 134 final
4, 5, 6. Geerdink, Willems, Botteman, Schellekens, Knapp and Schwingenschloegl, 2015, RESIN Actor analysis urban climate adaptation, methods and tools in support of stakeholder analysis and involvement, D6.1 Actor analysis 151030
7, 8. Reed, M.S., Graves, A., Dandy, N., Posthumus, H., Hubacek, K., Morris, J., Prell, C., Quinn, C.H. and Stringer, L.C. (2009) Who’s in and why? A typology of stakeholder analysis methods for natural resource management, Journal of Environmental Management 90, 1933-1949 
9. Arnstein, Sherry R.(1969) ‘A Ladder Of Citizen Participation’, Journal of the American Planning Association, 35: 4, 216 — 224