Stakeholder engagement is crucial to IWRM planning and decision-making processes. Participation by individuals, groups or organisations in planning activities empowers them and makes planning and decision-making more transparent and democratic. It opens channels of communication, generates mutual understanding and trust, builds plan ownership and formulates consensus solutions. In turn, these processes further the legitimacy, acceptance and support for the proposed solutions, facilitating their eventual implementation.

Ideally, stakeholders should be involved in all five IWRM planning phases. The BlueEarth approach is designed to tailor stakeholder engagement to the planning context and the competing stakeholder interests and roles. Different stakeholders should be brought in at different moments, in different activities, and with different levels of intensity. A structured stakeholder engagement plan should be drafted at the outset of each project and updated as required.

Stakeholders can be involved directly with the BlueEarth Digital Environment through collaborative modelling techniques in which stakeholders engage directly in modelling activities. Those activities can range from model definition and design through to model construction, model use and the co-creation of decision-support interfaces to visualise and communicate scientific modelling information. When stakeholders participate in modelling processes, they understand and trust the outcomes more. There is also greater ownership of the developed tools, leading to their continued use and maintenance after completion of the planning project.

BlueEarth draws on both expert and local forms of knowledge to produce interactive and informed decision-making. With frequent interactive workshops, you can establish transparent platforms for knowledge exchange that balance competing stakeholder interests. Enhancing the capacity of individuals to improve their own lives is the best way to promote positive social change.

For more information about the BlueEarth approach for stakeholder engagement, see Facilitating stakeholder engagement in practice

For more information about collaborative modelling, see PublicWiki Deltares Collaborative Modelling