IEA Training Manual - Module 2

3.5.2 Stage 2: Institutional set-up

Figure 4: Typical organizational
framework, Latin America and
Source: UNEP-LAC

This section explains the activities and instruments required to establish proactive institutional coordination through the process. It is important to identify suitable institutions with properly defined roles in the process. It is important to involve institutions that can continue to lead the process for a long time.

In many cases, national organizations lead the IEA process while UNEP-DEWA or GEO collaborating centres provide technical support. Figures 4, 5 and 6 illustrate three possible institutional frameworks. There are no generally applicable, rigid rules, so many variations are possible depending on national organizational capacities and structures.

The focal point for UNEP-DEWA in most cases is the national environmental authority that holds a legal mandate on environmental reporting. If another organization is going to lead the process, the national environmental authority needs to be involved, or it needs to select such an institution. UNEP-DEWA will provide assistance with developing the methodology and guidelines for the process.

Figure 5: Typical organizational
framework, from the Africa region
Source: UNEP, DEWA-Africa (2005)
In the case of Panama, for example, a consultative council was established to advise and support the participatory process (Figure 6). Members of the council were mainly representatives of the private sector (i.e., companies and other private stakeholders).

In order to have a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the main parties in the institutional framework, we provide a brief explanation of the role of the lead institution, the local technical team, collaborating centres and national partner organizations, and other stakeholders.

a. Lead institution

Figure 6: IEA organizational
framework, in the case of Panama
Source: UNEP LAC (2000)
The leader is usually a government organization (e.g., the ministry of environment or national environment council). Examples would be the Ministry of Environment. The lead organization would have a legal mandate for preparing an integrated environmental assessment (Figure 5).

There are several different ways to lead an IEA process. Because the IEA process is flexible and customized to national institutional capacities, a private organization (e.g., NGO, university) could also be selected to lead the process, depending on the national preferences. However, the lead institution must have the support of the government, as this increases the IEA’s legitimacy and likelihood of its use by decision-makers. Once the lead institution is selected, it is in charge of coordinating and managing the process. Different institutional arrangements have strengths and weaknesses that need to be evaluated during planning (Table 1).

Table 1: Most common organizational models, their advantages and disadvantages

Type of agency Possible advantages Possible disadvantages
Existing interministerial coordinating body
  • Political support and mandate to carry out anassessment.
  • Greater collaboration within government.
  • Mandate for environmental reporting.
  • National government ownership.
  • Better access to data and information.
  • Effective coordination and communication
  • mechanisms
  • Not recognized as independent.
  • Tendency to protect the status quo.
Existing government department
  • Political support and mandate to carry out an assessment.
  • Limits proliferation of specialized agencies.
  • Existing regional networks.
  • Greater collaboration within government.
  • Has the mandate for environmental reporting.
  • National government ownership.
  • Access to data and information.
  • May not be recognized as independent.
  • May limit public and other stakeholder involvement.
  • May tend to protect the status quo.
  • Bureaucracy in procurement of services.
  • Difficult to coordinate and access
  • data across sectors.
Independent or semi-independent agency (i.e., university, NGO, private institute)
  • Autonomous.
  • High profile and visibility.
  • Potential for innovation and greater efficiencies.
  • Links to non-governmental stakeholders and scientists.
  • May require formal support to have access to information.
  • Possibly weaker regional networks.
  • Potentially insecure funding.
  • Limited authority associated with
  • reporting.
  • Reduced acceptance of the IEA
  • by the government policymakers.

Source: Based on Pintér, Zahedi and Cressman, 2000. Capacity Building for Integrated Environmental Assessment and Reporting. Training Manual. Second edition, 2000. p. 13.

  • Criteria for selecting the lead institution may include the following:
  • capacity to engage key stakeholders;
  • sufficient capacity to manage the process (i.e., no need to depend on consultants);
  • recognized ability to carry out high quality assessment and reporting on time and on budget; and
  • acceptable to a wide range of stakeholders.

To provide effective leadership, the lead institution needs to appoint a senior staff person with strong technical and administrative capacity to coordinate the process.

b. Local technical team

The role of the technical team is to undertake specialized analysis, provide, analyze and interpret data, provide peer review, and help engage the wider expert community.

Selection of effective technical partners is crucial for the process. Criteria for selection may include the following:

  • experience in integrated environmental assessment;
  • high public profile and recognized leadership capacity
  • good relationship with the national environmental authority;
  • capacity to dialogue with different stakeholders from both the public and private sector, and ability to build consensus on key environmental issues;
  • experience in organizing and facilitating workshops; and
  • sufficient human resources to dedicate to a demanding assessment.
  • The selection could be accomplished by direct invitation by the national environmental authority or through a tendering process. It is important to recognize that the IEA process cannot begin until key technical partners have been selected.

Technical team organization
Depending on the national context and type of process, the structure and capacity of the technical team may vary.

a.    Small technical team. This model uses a team of 3–5 people including 2–3 researchers, one of them being responsible for coordinating inputs into the entire report. Researchers are in charge of data collection, organization, analysis and report writing, as well as organizing and leading workshops and consultations. The team also includes 1–2 research assistant(s) to provide support on data collection and processing, and preparing tables and graphs.

b.    Extended technical team. In this model, the small technical team would add subject experts for specific tasks (e.g., state of a particular component of the environment, scenarios). Experts have specialized knowledge and direct access to primary data. In this case, it is necessary to establish terms of reference for each specialist (Box 8). Terms of reference should include:

  • role in joint activities (presentations of findings in workshops);
  • the specialists’ roles, including specific activities to be carried out, information to be provided, as well as a programme of contributions;
  • rules for sharing information used in the process (including confidentiality agreements);
  • decision methods (including problem solving);
  • resources to be provided by each partner; and
  • agreements on how to integrate results of the process into national environmental decision-making.

These terms of reference should be periodically reviewed to ensure that they are being followed and are up to date.

Box 8: Tasks and Responsibilities for Authors:

Example guidelines from the GEO-4 process


Function:     To take overall responsibility for coordinating major sections of a Report

Comment:     Coordinating Lead Authors will be Lead Authors with the added responsibility of ensuring that major sections of the Report are completed to a high standard, are collated and delivered to the Working Group Co-Chairs in a timely manner and conform to any overall standards of style set for the document.


Function: To be responsible for the production of designated sections addressing items of the work programme on the basis of the best scientific, technical and socio-economic information available.

Comment: Lead Authors will typically work as small groups which have responsibility for ensuring that the various components of their sections are brought together on time, are of uniformly high quality and conform to any overall standards of style set for the document as a whole.

During the final stages of Report preparation, when the workload is often particularly heavy and when Lead Authors are heavily dependent upon each other to read and edit material, and to agree to changes promptly, it is essential that the work should be accorded the highest priority.

The essence of the Lead Authors’ task is synthesis of material drawn from available literature. Lead Authors, in conjunction with Review Editors, are also required to take account of expert and government review comments when revising text. Lead Authors may not necessarily write original text themselves, but they must have the proven ability to develop text that is scientifically, technically and socio-economically sound and that faithfully represents, to the extent that this is possible, contributions by a wide variety of experts. The ability to work to deadlines is also a necessary practical requirement.

Lead Authors are required to record in the Report views which cannot be reconciled with a consensus view but which are nonetheless scientifically or technically valid.

Lead Authors may convene meetings with Contributing Authors, as appropriate, in the preparations of their sections or to discuss expert or government review comments and to suggest any workshops or expert meetings in their relevant areas to the Working Group Co-Chairs.

The task of Lead Authors is a demanding one and in recognition of this the names of Lead Authors will appear prominently in the final Report.


Function: To prepare technical information in the form of text, graphs or data for assimilation by the Lead Authors into the draft section.

Comment: Contributions are normally solicited by Lead Authors but unprompted contributions are encouraged.

Contributions should be supported as far as possible with references from the peer-reviewed and internationally available literature, and with copies of any unpublished material cited; clear indications of how to access the latter should be included in the contributions. For material available in electronic format only, the location where such material may be accessed should be cited.

Contributed material may be edited, merged and if necessary, amended, in the course of developing the overall draft text.

Input from a wide range of contributors is a key element in the success of MA assessments, and the names of all contributors will be acknowledged in the Reports.

When the lead organization is different from the organization in charge of writing the overall report, it is important to define mechanisms of coordination to ensure that there is regular communication as well as clear and agreed review and revision guidelines as well as timelines.

Participants also need to keep in touch through periodic meetings, and written or electronic notes to exchange opinion regarding the organization of activities related to the IEA process. Each partner should select a person from the team to serve as the contact point for issues related to the IEA process.

As one of the goals of the IEA process is to have a significant impact on policy making, the process includes a stage for communication of results and outreach (Figure 1). Given the importance of the communication and outreach strategy, it may require dedicated leadership and a different team for the task.

c. Collaborating institutions and other stakeholders

Primary collaborating institutions are those with a direct role in the assessment, including for instance a role in coordination, selection of key issues to be covered, data collection and analysis, drafting of assessment reports and communication of results. Secondary participants are those who are invited to contribute their views, but who do not typically play a coordinating role or have responsibility for assessment products. While primary institutions are typically governmental, academic or specialized NGOs, secondary participants may come from a widest range of sectors and include e.g., government departments or agencies, academic, non-governmental organizations, corporations, civil society organizations, youth or women’s groups, aboriginal associations or the media.

It is important that the different stakeholders participate throughout the entire process, providing information or developing specific activities.

In order to keep an active relationship with collaborating institutions, it is important to keep in mind the following:

  • identify a contact person for the duration of the process;
  • establish a clear definition of their role and responsibilities; and
  • keep the contact person regularly informed about progress and seek out his/her views on key decisions.

d. GEO Collaborating Centres

UNEP-DEWA regional offices have collaborating centres (CCs) with regional mandates or with specialized thematic expertise that, as noted earlier, participate in global GEO and other assessments. They could also help conduct the IEA process and provide support on technical aspects of the process.

CCs are often in close contact with the national technical team, and can:

  • clarify any methodological issue in the process;
  • provide technical support to the local technical team for preparing workshops;
  • help facilitate capacity building and other workshops; and
  • review drafts.

e. Identification of stakeholders

As previously mentioned, stakeholders are those:

  • whose interests are affected by environmental problems or their decisions have environmental effects;
  • who have information, resources or expertise required for policy formulation and strategy implementation; and
  • who control key mechanisms (e.g., funding) for policy and strategy formulation and implementation.

To enhance stakeholders participation and their contributions there are three key principles.9

  • Inclusivity. Include a full range of stakeholders representing different groups of interest, including marginal and vulnerable groups.
  • Pertinence. Include stakeholders whose interests are significantly affected by the issues covered in the IEA.
  • Gender perspective. Women and men must have equal access to all stages of the participatory process, and it is important to respond to the demands from women and men. This allows formulating and implementing better integrated policies and strategies.

Figure 8: Identifying stakeholders,
their roles and interests

In order to assure that the different stakeholders are represented, stakeholder analysis is very helpful. The analysis identifies and examines key stakeholders, fulfilling criteria such as representation across sectors, gender and vulnerability. The analysis alone does not guarantee though that the identified stakeholders are going to be active in the process—this may need incentives and strong leadership (Figure 8).

Source: UN HABITAT (2002). Herramientas para una gestión urbana participativa. Colección de Manuales. Ediciones SUR - modified.

Stakeholder analysis includes three elements:

  1. Key issues or problems that will be discussed throughout the IEA process. Identify stakeholders relevant to the IEA’s priority issues.
  2. Stakeholder long list. Prepare a detailed list of stakeholders, structured by general categories (such as public sector and private sector) as well as sub-categories (see Table 2 and Table 3). The list should include stakeholders that meet any of the following criteria.
    • They are affected by environmental problems, or their decisions have environmental effects.
    • They have information, resources or expertise required for policy formulation and strategy implementation.
    • They have control or influence on key mechanisms for environmental policy and strategy formulation and implementation.

Table 2: Example of detailed list of stakeholders at national level by type of contribution

Stakeholder to involve Reason for participation
  Information Capacity Strengths Affected by an environmental issue
    Access to funding Legislative powers  
Public Sector
National environmental authority          
Officials of national
and regional public
Regional and local
Science and
technology council
Private Sector
Mass media          
Civil Society
Community groups          

Source: Adaptation based on UN Habitat. (2002). Herramientas para una gestión urbana participativa. Colección de Manuales. Ediciones SUR.

Table 3: Example of detailed list by influence and interest

Who Influence Interest/relevance Capacity
Public Sector
National environmental
Officials of national and
regional public agencies
Regional and local
government representatives
Private Sector
Business representatives      
Scientific community      
Mass media      
Civil Society
Community groups      
International organizations      
UN agencies      
  1. Stakeholder map. The detailed stakeholder list is analyzed according to criteria or    attributes important for the participatory IEA approach. Stakeholders can be categorized in different ways. One criterion is the degree of interest and influence of the stakeholders (Table 4). Another is based on their contribution to different parts of the report (Table 5).

Source: Adaptation based on UN Habitat. (2002). Herramientas para una gestión urbana participativa. Colección de Manuales. Ediciones SUR.

Table 4: Stakeholder classification

  Low influence High influence
Low interest Stakeholder group with low relevance
to the process
Useful stakeholder group for policy  formulation and decision making.
(e.g., business councils, finance ministries)
High interest Important stakeholders in need of empowerment (e.g., indigenous people
living in sensitive eco-systems)
Key stakeholder group

Source: UN Habitat. (2002). Herramientas para una gestión urbana participativa. Colección de Manuales. Ediciones SUR – modified.

Table 5: Stakeholders by IEA Components

IEA Component Stakeholder
  Government Private sector Civil society Academia Other
(please specify)
State (and trends)          

Source: UNEP. IEA Module testing workshop. Montevideo 2005.

A third alternative could be to use Table 4 for each IEA component presented in Table 5.

Once stakeholders are classified and selected, it is important to evaluate their availability and commitment to the process. It is also recommended to verify if any major stakeholder groups are missing, based on additional information.

It is important to periodically request stakeholder self-evaluation, in order to both review their performance and contribution to the process. If the evaluation is formal (though still simple), its key criteria should be defined in advance and this information should be known by the stakeholders. The evaluation should take into account the different roles that the stakeholders could play such as: information and data supplier, playing a policy making or promotional role (e.g., lobbyist). Stakeholders should have a clear understanding of the expected outcome of their participation.

In order to keep stakeholders engaged in the process, it is important to offer incentives that respond to their interests, such as:

  • listening and taking into account their points of view;
  • keeping them informed of the activities and results of the process;
  • stating clear rules for participation and what commitments are expected;
  • incorporating key stakeholders in the monitoring process; and
  • developing different activities to keep close relationships with the stakeholders.

See Exercise and Exercise (Optional)...

f. Establishing the basis for the impact strategy

Figure 7: Impact strategy steps
Source: IISD (2004). Model for an
Impact Strategy

At the outset, it is important to try to understand how the national IEA process can have an impact on policies that influence the state of the environment. Particular attention should be paid at this point to identifying persons and groups that are in a position to influence policies that have an impact on the environment, and effectively manage relationships with these people. Module 3 describes a framework for developing an impact strategy in more detail and it is also summarized in Box 9 and shown in Figure 7.

Determining effective ways of engaging key decision-makers is a key element of crafting an impact strategy. An important element of this is to ensure the issues covered by the IEA also reflect the concerns and priorities of decision-makers. Besides decision-makers, involving the media is particularly important both as a provider of information through public surveys, and as a channel to reach key audiences.

Box 9: Developing an impact strategy for a national IEA process

What is an impact strategy?

An impact strategy consists of the steps you take to ensure that the work you do will lead to real progress on key issues or concerns. It is proactive in nature, and adaptive in a public policy environment where priorities of governments and citizens can shift and change.

Why do you need an impact strategy?

It is often an underlying assumption of reporting that good information will lead to good decisions. But while good information is necessary, it does not follow that decision makers will act on it. Decision makers are often quite well informed, but their priorities and intentions may differ from what your assessment might indicate is important. The challenge for you is to take proactive steps to ensure that your assessment does not sit on a bookshelf once it is done. Your assessment will lead to recommendations for action, and such actions may require changes in government policies and practices. You should consider from the outset how the findings from your assessment might be used, and how the priorities you identify become the priorities of your government and your country.

Steps in building an Impact Strategy

Step 1. Anchor the assessment with a decision statement: what do you want to see changed, based on the findings of the assessment, what decisions may need to be made and what changes in policy or policy might be required? There will always be other influences on decision makers. Some will compete with and others will align with your interests. Understanding the external political and bureaucratic environment, and issue attention cycles, will help you focus your impact objectives. Too often, people move immediately to the information gathering stages of the assessment, without due consideration of Step 2. You need to think carefully about who will be in a position to take the findings of your assessment and use them effectively. Information by itself does not leverage change, but relationships do. It is vital to have people communicating ideas, analysis and data to other people. The next step is to identify the individuals and groups you most want to reach. You need to consider how these people acquire information, who they trust and what do they trust in terms of information resources. How can you get to those people? If you cannot reach them directly, then who are the people they do listen to, and can you reach them instead?

Step 2. Identify those who are in positions to make the decision or effect the changes; those who can influence the decision makers directly (intermediaries — the people who lean in to whisper advice into the ears of the decision makers); those in civil society who can bring pressure to bear on decision makers; those who can support, reinforce and strengthen your recommendations, in particular the academic community and other research institutes; and those in the media through whom we reach the public, who can also influence decision makers. Central to determining who to reach is the concept of relationship management, which means maintaining the connections and influence over time.

Step 3. Once you have identified who will help with achieving the decision you seek, you need to analyze both what they need to know, and what you need to know, that will help them take or influence the decision. This is the knowledge management process of the assessment. The remainder of this session will introduce some of the tools you need to gather, analyze and process your information.

Step 4. Next, determine how to move that knowledge into the hands of those you want to influence. There are many tools available to do this: the products to be released, the conferences and workshops to be held, and the amplifiers, including electronic mailing lists and websites, which get replicated throughout much wider audiences than may have been targeted. At the heart of the tactics and strategies that are developed is the creative management of opportunities: both taking advantage of key windows to move the assessment findings into the hands of others, and creating opportunity directly. An important part of this process is the development of “key messages” that are short, simple, plain language statements that capture the essence of the work.

Step 5. We know that in most work, we cannot easily demonstrate causality. It is hard to prove that one’s efforts have led directly to the decision we were seeking. But it is possible to look at incremental changes in attitudes, actions, and behaviours that are a direct outcome of one’s work. Monitoring, evaluation and learning mechanisms must be in place so that you can identify and map these incremental changes that will lead towards the decisions or changes you are seeking. This will help you to adjust your strategy, if necessary.

Following are a series of steps for policy-makers that can be used to help convert recommendations into actions thus increasing impact.
  1. Prepare an executive summary of the main results and policy options for policy-makers.
  2. Identify instruments needed to put the actions in place and opportunities to obtain technical support.
  3. Consider specific follow-up actions in compliance with policy options identified and use the mass media as well as campaigns to engage the public in dialogue.
  4. Use stakeholders involved in the IEA to inform and engage other social actors about the process and its results.


9. Ibid.


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