We can define stakeholders as individuals and groups that directly or indirectly use, derive benefit from or have an impact on a particular waterway.
Stakeholders might include regulators, local government employees, industry representatives, landowners, farmers and members of the general public, as well as members of the scientific community and others who may contribute to system understanding.
We need to actively involve stakeholders at a number of steps of the Water Quality Management Framework to help ensure that:
- their knowledge is incorporated into understanding and managing the waterway
- appropriate community values and management goals are identified
- community implications of agreed management actions to protect the community values and management goals are well understood and incorporated into the decision-making (cultural, economic, political and social)
- they have shared ownership of the management actions, and are involved in tracking progress and subsequent adaptive management.
How to involve people in water quality planning and management
You can involve stakeholders at a number of different levels, depending on their interest and expertise, and the mechanisms available to engage with them. Stakeholders could be part of:
- public comment on development proposals
- community forums or discussions to identify broad community goals and potential areas of conflict
- specific groups that relate broad goals to the community values that need to be protected in a particular waterway, decide where these may apply and evaluate the potential implications of different options
- specific groups that bring together all major interests in one forum to discuss ideas, issues and proposals and provide a broad sounding board (e.g. stakeholder advisory committee)
- community and industry participation in processes for developing management strategies (e.g. catchment management planning) and assessing progress against water quality objectives and management goals (e.g. monitoring of discharges and ambient conditions).
Consider using innovative interactive tools for stakeholder engagement, such as social media and digital engagement platforms.