Stakeholder analysis


Complex challenges, such as is adaptation to climate change, are characterised by a great number of uncertainties on trends and (long-term) developments, on boundaries of the problem area, on organisation and responsibilities and with a diversity of 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.
André et al. (2012) stress the importance of this participatory process: a proper stakeholder analysis is the first step to identify and select relevant stakeholders for participation in the various steps of the planning process. And it may well be that stakeholders have different roles and positions at the various stages of a strategy development and implementation. Timely involvement and attention to keep them involved throughout the process, also when at some stage contributions may be limited, is crucial. This step facilitates cities to figure out which stakeholders they have to engage in the process of climate adaptation. Without a structural stakeholder analysis it is possible that important stakeholder groups or their interests are neglected, leading to biased results and with no full support for the decisions made (Reed et al. 2009).


Before determining and engaging multiple stakeholders, cities first have to demarcate the scope of the problem and draft first ideas on the climate threat. Without this information the search for stakeholders will be too broad. However, cities have to be aware that a proper stakeholder engagement and dialogue will evidently change the scope of the problem and will enrich the ideas on specific climate threats. Be aware that a good survey of non-climate trends and activities can produce a number of relevant stakeholders to involve in the climate adaptation plan development.


The outcome of a stakeholder analysis is an overview of all the stakeholders (including contact details) and their interest at stake: who is affected by the climate threat; who is influenced by or can influence a decision; who can contribute in developing potential solutions, preparing the conditions for decision making; or who can implement the selected options. In addition to defining the stakeholders, the interests of these stakeholders have to be clarified. Each stakeholder is classified in type and differentiated in categories. Lastly, the relations between the stakeholders is described, outlining, for example,  interdependencies, communication levels, customer relationships, trust and influence, competitors, conflicts and financial dependencies.


To understand who the relevant stakeholders are and what their particular interests are, a stakeholder analysis can be performed, preferably in an early phase of a decision making process. It is important to be flexible in stakeholder analysis processes. The relevant stakeholders can change over time, their roles and positions are likely to change. As it is an iterative process, the stakeholder analysis should be regular updated.

Three activities can be distinguished in a stakeholders analysis:

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

A proper stakeholder analysis involves all three activities. For each of these activities there are several methods available, These methods and the way they can be put to use to create stakeholder involvement are presented on the frequently encountered challenges page of stakeholder involvement.



Stakeholders are extremely relevant for each stage of your work from setting the vision and the adaptation goals through assessing the vulnerability of your city up to selecting adaptation options and implementing these. During Bratislava ´s participation in the EU Cities Adapt Programme several stakeholder workshops took place that helped co-create the document in 2014. The local university – Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University in Bratislava played a major role in supporting the process as a local research partner of Bratislava City. Since then the network of stakeholders has been expanding as more in-depth work has been done in the areas of vulnerability assessment using the IVAVIA tool and first pilot adaptation measures implemented with support of the EEA Grants and Norway Grants (for more information see ) and creating the Action plan for adaptation as a subsequent document to the strategy in 2017.

Greater Manchester

Climate change adaptation and critical infrastructure protection are complex technical, policy and delivery challenges involving actions of a large range of stakeholders. And to adapt effectively, stakeholders need to understand relevant climate hazards and impacts and the frameworks within which they and others need to take action to manage related risks. Further, this must be done in a complex landscape of responsibilities and overlapping boundaries (geographic, administrative etc.).

Mapping the climate change adaptation and critical infrastructure community was therefore a critical first step in understanding GM’s stakeholder landscape in this context. It was also essential in helping us to understand what action is being taken by those GM stakeholders who’s action are particularly important increasing the resilience of the City Region’s critical infrastructure to climate change.

GM therefore undertook a baselining assessment process of its climate change resilience stakeholders which:

  1. Mapped GM’s wider climate change adaptation / resilience stakeholder community;
  2. Identified a defined sub-set of key stakeholders from this community whose role and activities more closely relate to urban and critical infrastructure protection;
  3. Considered the extent to which the assessment of risk and approaches to manage risk are being actively and positively embedded within the work of these key stakeholders.
  4. Made a range of conclusions and recommendations around emerging best practice approaches for consideration later in the RESIN project or within GM generally.

This experience only relates to points 1 and 2 above and our process of identifying, mapping and starting to more closely define our stakeholders relating to key critical infrastructure.

Our baseline assessment was desk based, and the initial stakeholder landscape map was produced purely from within the RESIN project partners. It was developed via a series of brainstorming sessions combined with influence and interest matrices mapping processes.

Then, to inform the later stages of analysis, the initial map was filtered (against the priority critical infrastructure areas as set out in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework) to identify smaller groupings of stakeholders considered key to GM’s climate resilience, particular concerning critical infrastructure. This led to the identification of following groups and stakeholders within them:

  • Transport infrastructure – Transport for Greater Manchester, Highways England, Network Rail, Peel Holdings limited (Port Salford and Ship Canal), Manchester Airport
  • Utilities infrastructure – United Utilities, National Grid, Electricity North West

These are shown in the landscape map below (shaded orange). In addition, a wider social infrastructure stakeholder sector (which includes, amongst others, local government, schools and education, health services, community facilities) was clearly visible (highlighted pink). However, the complexity of this group and the breadth of both its activity and plans/strategies, meant it was decided to be out of scope for the analysis stage of the baseline assessment process.



When drafting its new Climate Action Plan (adopted in March 2018), the City of Paris wanted to create a shared vision. To this end, companies, institutions, and other public or private organizations were categorized by theme or sector.

Workshops were held on urbanism, air quality, transport, waste management, and innovative finance, with the relevant stakeholders varying from one thematic event to the other.

Additionally, written contributions were coordinated within a series of economic and institutional stakeholder “communities”: business and craftsmanship, office real estate, social housing, culture and tourism, sports and events, health, higher education, research, and energy network operators.

The City of Paris also consulted: its own personnel, the Parisian Youth Council, the Paris Climate Agency (an operational agency launched by the City in 2011), and the signatories of the Paris Climate Action Partnership Agreement (a charter and platform for voluntary companies launched by the City in 2014).

Last but not least, all Parisians were invited to submit their proposals for the Climate Action Plan on a dedicated platform called “Madame la Maire, j’ai une idée” (Madam Mayor, I have an idea). In the end, it can be noted that the website was used by civil society organizations and NGOs in addition to individuals. Prior to this, a “citizens’ conference” had also been organized with a panel of 21 persons having no previous background in climate and energy, specifically to identify how to best mobilize citizens in individual or collective actions for climate.

Supporting tools and methods

Consider the guidance on performing this step for support when to apply what tool.

Influence matrixi

A method to show the relative position of different stakeholders on a matrix. Different scales can be used, such as level of influence, level of interest, level of importance and other.

Radical transactivenessi

Radical transactiveness is a way of snow-ball sampling to identify fringe stakeholders. Radical transactiveness is a dynamic capability which seeks to systematically identify, explore, and integrate the views of stakeholders on the “fringe”—the poor, weak, isolated, non-legitimate, and even non-human—for the express purpose of managing disruptive change and building imagination about future competitive business models.

Stakeholder-led stakeholder categorizationi

A method in which stakeholders themselves create categories to position (other) stakeholders.

Q methodi

A method to systematically collect information on stakeholders viewpoints and beliefs.

Salience methodi

A visual model to distinguish between stakeholders who should be directly involved in a participatory process and who should not.

Actor-linkage matrixi

In actor-linkage matrices, stakeholders are tabulated in a two-dimensional matrix and their relationships described using codes. It is a relatively easy method, but its weakness is that it can become confusing and difficult to use if many linkages are described (Reed et al. 2009; Hermans, 2005). Such exercise can be done within a focus group setting, or individually by stakeholders during interviews, or by a skilled researcher/practitioner.

Social network analysisi

A social network analysis is a way of mapping and measuring relationships and flows between people and organizations. The nodes in the network are the people and groups while the links show relationships or flows between the nodes. For information structured interviews and/or questionnaires are used.

Knowledge mappingi

Knowledge mapping is a method used in conjunction with social network analysis. It involves semi-structured interviews to identify interactions and knowledge. It identifies stakeholders that would work well together as well as those with power balances.

Institutional analysisi

A method to collect in-depth information on stakeholder relationships by analyzing institutional arrangements and settings.

Brainstorm sessionsi

A brainstorm session is a method to collect information on stakeholders in order to identify them through a group discussion. With this method a pre-determined topic can be discussed in-depth and information on the stakeholders perspectives and interests can be collected. It is a way to reach a good understanding of the stakeholders views.

Semi-structured interviewsi

Semi-structured interviews is a method to collect information on stakeholders perspectives and interests and the context by asking questions. A semi-structured interview entails open and closed questions. This approach provides reliable, comparable and qualitative data on stakeholders’ roles, interests, perceptions, their problems, issues they have and challenges they see.

Snowball mappingi

A method to collect information on all the stakeholders involved. It is a way to map the complete list of stakeholders by starting with a few stakeholders to ask to identify new stakeholders categories and to provide further contacts. This method is mostly in combination with other stakeholder analysis methods and tools, such as with semi-structured interviews.

RAMSES Stakeholder mapping and engagementi

The ‘Stakeholder mapping and engagement’ worksheet developed within this project is a step-by-step description of steps to take to identify the right stakeholders. It also allows to record ideas how to engage them. The method is based on expert opinion and brainstorming. The steps are described at a high level, which makes the method open for interpretation.

RAMSES Communicating the urgency of adaptation and local accomplishmentsi

The ‘Stakeholder mapping and engagement’ worksheet developed within this project is a step-by-step description of steps to take to develop an effective communication strategy to convey the urgency of climate adaptation. The method contains an overview of pro’s and cons of some various communication methods. The steps are described at a high level, which makes the method open for interpretation.


The mDSS software is a generic Decision Support System (DSS) developed to assist decision makers in the management of environmental problems. It can help users to:

  • better understand or explain to the involved actors (disciplinary experts, policy/decision makers, other stakeholders) the problem at hand,
  • explore possible decision options, also within the contexts of alternative scenarios,
  • facilitate public participation,
  • smoothen the conflicts related to alternative courses of action,
  • extend collaboration with and within different stakeholder groups.