Explore, Synthesize, and Repeat: Unraveling Complex Water Management Issues through the Stakeholder Engagement Wheel
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Coll Agr & Life Sci, Arizona Cooperat Extens, Water Resources Res Ctr
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CitationExplore, Synthesize, and Repeat: Unraveling Complex Water Management Issues through the Stakeholder Engagement Wheel 2016, 8 (4):118 Water
RightsCreative Commons Attribution License
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AbstractEffective stakeholder engagement is fundamental to water management, yet there are as many approaches to consultation as there are efforts. This paper provides an evaluation of, and lessons learned from three water management engagement processes, and uses this assessment to offer a framework for stakeholder engagement. The Stakeholder Engagement Wheel framework is centered on a bridging organization that ensures that the process continues to move forward, and a steering committee that guides and changes activities according to stakeholder interests and concerns. Around the Stakeholder Engagement Wheel are four steps designed to examine iteratively the water management issue driving the engagement process and expand the sphere of interests involved. Many engagement processes have limited effectiveness because of: (1) paucity of time; (2) complexity of water resources management; (3) difficulty of engaging diverse stakeholders; and (4) lack of methods for engagement that are centered on empowerment, equity, trust, and learning. In this study, we have encountered all four of these issues and have addressed all but the first through a deliberate, iterative, and flexible approach. By cycling through activities and actions as proposed in the Stakeholder Engagement Wheel, we can build a community of practitioners with the nuanced and shared understanding needed for cohesive action and robust decisions in the face our considerable challenges.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsThe authors would like to thank the many Arizona stakeholders who participated in these projects, in particular the almost 50 different people who served on the three steering committees for the projects, for their time and insights. Effective stakeholder engagement requires a dedicated team, and these projects would not have been possible without the assistance of current and former WRRC staff Brittany Xiu, Candice Rupprecht, Joanna Nadeau, and Aaron Lien, and graduate students Kathryn Bannister, Christopher Fullerton, and Ashley Hullinger. A sincere thanks to Susanna Eden, Shirley Papuga, Chris Scott, David Breshears, and Stuart Marsh for their valuable comments and ideas for how to present this research. Funding for the three projects described here, but not for this paper itself, came from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and the Town of Clarkdale via the Walton Family Foundation. Partial funding for this research was also provided by the Arizona Technology and Research Initiative Fund.