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Maintain meaningful engagement with stakeholders (DRAFT)

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Maintain meaningful engagement with stakeholders (DRAFT)

Maintain meaningful engagement with stakeholders (DRAFT)

Posted on March 22, 2019 by Karina de Souza

Authoring Organizations: CEO Water Mandate
Pacific Institute
Consulting Organizations: --
Universal: Yes
Applicable Phases: Commit, Act
Last Updated Aug 11, 2019

Overview

Communicate openly, clearly and often, at an appropriate level of understanding for all stakeholders and partners so they stay engaged

Benefits

Provide clear and confident communication to partners to encourage transparency and ensure realistic expectations for the partnership and project. This includes communication to beneficiaries, especially direct beneficiaries (e.g. land owners or water users around a water project. Proper communication facilitates quick responses and cooperation, often beyond initial expectations. Take note however, that the burden of clear, confident and appropriate communication can be significant, especially with complex partnerships that contain large diversity of stakeholders.

Guidance

Promote an equal level of understanding: Make sure all information is available to partners in an easily accessible manner, so that partnership or project planning is inclusive.

Maintain regular partnership communication: Frequency of communications should be considered in the preparation and assessment phases of any project or partnership, so partners continue to stay engaged.

Appropriate forms of communication: Have an agreed form of communication with all partners from the start of the project so that information is accessible whenever needed and different partners can be updated. Make sure communications emphasize the business case or importance of the project and collective beneficial outcomes and highlight the importance of economic development and stability through the partnership outcomes.

Ask for feedback: Seek feedback from stakeholders as part of your monitoring and evaluation to ensure two-way communication and different perspectives are understood.

Manage partner expectations with good internal communications: Some project objectives (e.g. ecosystem restoration) may take a long time yet partner expectations can be looking for results in the short term. Therefore, it is important to identify quick wins and celebrate milestones plus recognize efforts at all stages in order to boost or keep morale high within the partnership.

Knowledge sharing between partners: If partnerships are established across different parts of a country or region to deliver a program of related projects, it may be necessary to establish a community of practice that will bring together actors from all the different locations. That will help the partnerships to form and establish relationships that will endure.

Use appropriate language: Ensure partner communications using the vernacular of the stakeholders and partners, rather than technical jargon and acronyms that might cause confusion or misunderstanding

Example

Communicating clearly with a high diversity of riparian stakeholders (residential settlements, large and small farms, livestock keeping, small-scale businesses, hotels & lodges) in Tanzania poses a challenge for the partnership project as it requires careful coordination of project activities in order to balance interests and turn shared water risks into a shared opportunity for successful cooperation. By maintaining meaningful engagement with stakeholders however, and using the best practice and guidance outlines above, the project has managed to clearly communicate and the partnership has ensured successes.

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This lesson learned reflects the beliefs and experiences of the author, not necessarily the Pacific Institute, CEO Water Mandate, or UN Global Compact.