News & Media
News and Media
What works and what doesn’t work: New report analyses stakeholder engagement within sustainability research
In-depth study of SEI's own experiences.For over 20 years, SEI has used a wide variety of stakeholder engagement techniques including Policy Dialogues, Participatory GIS and more informal networks and tools. Underlying this use of participatory methods is an 'action research' approach, where researchers closely collaborate with stakeholders in order to bring about change.
In their working paper Stakeholder Engagement and the Work of SEI: An Empirical Study, John Forrester, Åsa G. Swartling and Kate Lonsdale review the Institute's experience in engaging stakeholders in various research projects.
20-year long tradition
The Working Paper presents the experiences of SEI staff who rely on stakeholder engagement and who use participatory approaches in their work.
It presents several case studies from Africa, Asia and Europe, and, setting this practical experience within a theoretical context, suggests what works and what does not work under various circumstances.
- SEI has a long tradition of practising stakeholder engagement in a wide range of environment-related research and development efforts. Against this background, the authors argue that SEI also has novel and interesting things to offer the debate within the 'participation community' thinking as well as the stakeholders with whom we work.
Joint agenda necessary
The report presents several perspectives that are worthy of consideration when carrying out stakeholder engagement work.
- Stakeholder engagement needs to start with the participants and their agendas alongside the researchers and their agendas. Building on this, increasingly joint problem definition by researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders is seen as crucial to ensuring research outcomes are relevant, according to the SEI researchers who were interviewed for this report.
Distinguishing between the use of participatory methods and a participatory approach to research, the report also stresses the importance of matching the participatory methods used to the research task in hand as well as sensitivity to stakeholders’ views.