An IEA requires blending knowledge and perspectives from many different points of view. It also aims to influence audiences with different interests and information needs. In order to maximize impact, it is essential to have the participation of a wide range of actors, either as contributors to the assessment, as audiences, or as both, throughout the process (Figure 3).6
IEA can and often does provide a forum for continuous dialogue, although the number of actual participants involved in the assessment and reporting often needs to be kept at manageable levels.
Participation is important not only because it helps to identify key environmental issues from the different stakeholders’ perspectives, but also because it can offer options for addressing those issues. If participation is open and transparent, it is more likely that interests of different stakeholders, including interests of poor, vulnerable groups and women will be recognized and better reflected in the formulation of policy responses.
A basic definition of stakeholders includes those: 7
- whose interests are affected by environmental problems, or whose decisions have environmental effects;
- who have information, resources or expertise required for policy formulation and strategy implementation; and/or
- who control key mechanisms for policy and strategy formulation and implementation.
Potential stakeholders and partners whose support for the whole IEA process is crucial may include the following:
- political leaders;
- officials of national and regional public offices (such as ministries, institutes, councils, directorates and the military);
- local authorities;
- political party representatives;
- scientific community;
- representatives of industry or entrepreneurial associations;
- private sector representatives;
- professional schools or associations;
- academia (universities and research centres);
- non-government organizations;
- mass media;
- youth groups, women groups;
- indigenous communities and groups;
- civil society organizations;
- community and religious groups; and
- opinion leaders.
In order to ensure effective participation, it is essential to have sufficient political support, including: 8
- full support for an effective participatory process from the national environmental authority or lead environmental institution;
- leadership and organizational support from of the national environmental authority and/or other agencies to support the process; and
- explicit commitment as possible to make use of the results, including considering recommendations in policy formulation, budget processes and strategic planning.
You can increase effectiveness of participation throughout the process by paying particular attention to the following:
- ensure participation is built into all relevant stages;
- establish open communications among technical experts involved in the assessment to clarify uncertainties and verify assumptions;
- increase ownership by involving stakeholders from the very beginning, including in the formulation of recommendations;
- invite stakeholders to contribute based on their experience, and make sure they can recognize their inputs in the analysis and recommendations;
- inform participants that their contribution and participation will be properly recognized in outputs; and
- where possible ensure stakeholder inputs are recorded, and that records are made available to contributors.
Running the IEA process as outlined provides:
- an opportunity to contribute to and have access to the assessment database;
- development of analytic skills and capacities, using an integrated approach to environment and development problems; and
- opportunity to contribute to addressing major environment and development issues at the policy level.
Box 7: Stakeholder participation:
The GEO Lima and Callao case
Lima and Callao is a large metropolitan area in Peru, South America, which includes the capital of the country, Lima. The GEO Lima and Callao was started in December 2004. The technical team in charge of preparing the report is the Group of Environmental Initiatives. They defined the following strategy to ensure stakeholder participation throughout the process. Stakeholders received advance material for discussion as well as the methodology and working tools (e.g., key questions, working tables). A number of techniques were used to engage key people and groups.
- One-hour presentation of the project to the strategic political partners and the media at a working breakfast.
- One-day presentation of the project to different stakeholders, from the public to private sector. Participants worked together on the outline, key environmental issues, pressures, indicators and data sources.
- Four two-hour thematic workshops to discuss preliminary findings with stakeholders.
- One and one-half day workshop to discuss the first draft of the report. Groups also discussed other components of the report (i.e., responses, emerging issues and scenarios, conclusions and recommendations).
- E-mail consultation on the second draft, including conclusions and recommendations.
- Half-day meeting with all the stakeholders and policy-makers to revise conclusions and recommendations.
- Targeted interviews with specific stakeholders during the process.
Source: UNEP-CONAM-GEA Group-Municipalities of Lima and Callao (2005). GEO Lima and Callao process.
- First try to answer the following questions individually, then convene small groups representing the private and public sectors and share individual answers.
- The group should describe the main contributions they can make to, and the benefits they expect from the IEA process.
|Figure 3: National IEA
stages and participation
1. What benefits do you expect to get from your participation in the IEA process?
2. What contributions can you provide to the IEA process?
Note: UNEP can play a lead, facilitator or back stopping role in one or more stages of the process.
6. See section 3.4.2: Institutional setup for instruments to select key stakeholders for the process.
8. UN HABITAT (2002). Herramientas para una gestión urbana participativa. Colección de Manuales. Ediciones SUR.