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FAO/UNEP/UN-Energy Bioenergy Decision Support Tool -
MODULE 6: People and Processes
PRINCIPLES FOR STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
The following principles have been identifed as key elements for
successful stakeholder engagement (UNEP, 2010):
• Integrated: The process should be able to integrate
contributions from different groups of stakeholders ranging
from government representatives to international organiza-
tions to local communities. This principle ensures inclusive
and fair representation;
• Adaptive: The process should be fexible in methods and
in the range of stakeholders;
• Transparent: The process should have clear, easily
identifed requirements. It should ensure that there is public
access to information; limitations and diffculties should be
acknowledged and there should be accountability for the
reasons behind particular decisions;
• Credible: It is important that the process be conducted
professionally to ensure faith in the process and those
facilitating it;
• Rigorous: The process should apply “best practices”,
using appropriate methodologies and techniques,
specifcally when it comes to stakeholder consultation and
record-keeping;
• Practical: The process should result in information and
outputs that assist with problem solving and are accept-
able to and able to be implemented by proponents;
• Purposive: The process should aid decision-making by
addressing stakeholder concerns;
When initiating or modifying a stakeholder process, it can also be
useful to conduct a stakeholder mapping based on the expected
stakeholders; such a mapping considers the power, support,
infuence and impact of the various stakeholders and groups
involved (UNEP, 2010).
CONSTRAINTS AND OPERATIONAL CAPACITY
Collaboration between stakeholders may not be achievable if the
expected pay off from improved relationships is less signifcant
than the stakes involved and/or the importance of maintaining
power or control. The latter issue is pre-eminent when there are
signifcant differences in the bargaining power held by different
stakeholders. Under such circumstances, negotiation should not
be used as a form of active participation before bargaining powers
are levelled off; the weaker parties may simply lose out regardless
of the importance of the issues they represent. Time must be
allocated to address the inherent power differences, offering the
possibility to address constraints associated with both the
contextual issues as well as with the actors themselves.
Context-related constraints arise from political and governance
conditions; Table 3 presents some questions for exploring
participatory constraints. By considering participatory constraints
at an early stage, the bioenergy strategy process can potentially
be made more effective. The ideal conditions for policy and
strategy design and execution will never exist, but by trying to
address political or administrative weaknesses early on, time can
be saved at the later stages when progress will require deeper
commitments from both policy-makers and many other stake-
holders.
Table 2: Main advantages and disadvantages of participation in policy and strategy processes
 
Potential advantages of stakeholders
participation in decision making processes
Risks or disadvantages of stakeholder participation in
decision-making processes
Quality of the
planning
Improvement
• Review of policies from various perspectives
increases chance of success
Complicated
• Planning is more complicated when wide range of
stakeholders involved.
Wider
Representation
Wider aspects
• A diverse range of values and opinions come
to the table; participatory approach can
improve problem solving
Misrepresentation
• Some participants may not have any direct stake in the
policy and strategy decisions and may use the process
for political ends
Relationships
among
stakeholders
Improved relation with local community
• Stakeholders participation provides the
developer government or private sector with
a “license to operate” in a given area, through
the development of “partnership” with local
communities
Distorted interest
• Possible conficts between individuals, groups and
organizations undermines goals;
• government workers may view public and industry as
the problem and are unwilling to abrogate power or
control
Timing
Long-term beneft
• slower pace can allow easier identifcation of
problems
Time consuming process
• The more participants, the longer the process of
decision-making
Costs
Reduction of future risks
• Reduced risk of serious confrontation,
thereby minimizing long-term project costs
and delays
Financial and other resource costs of promoting stakeholder
participation
• Expensive advertising, public presentations, getting
public and private enterprise to understand an issue
and actively participate;
• Negotiation skills to resolve conficts of interest among
different participants
• Facilitation skills to avoid unbalanced representation or
takeovers by powerful interest groups
Source: adapted from ESCAP, 1997