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5 steps to stakeholder engagement and co-creation

Establishing partnerships between governments, businesses and local stakeholders can speed up projects and drive sustainable development as well. Anticipating the potential in stakeholder dialogues at an early stage and following our 5 step-by-step guide can lead to successful shared value creation.
Discovering the needs and benefits of collaboration with stakeholders can be a complex experience for companies as well as governments and NGO’s.

Why engage
There are several reasons for organisations to engage stakeholders in the process of a project:

  • Compliancy: to meet the requirements that are set. For example creating transparency and public participation for the residents.
  • Risk control management: To minimalize potential barriers in an early stage.
    For example the construction of the high-rise buildings in the Leiden Station area needsthe support of the residents in order to prevent delay in the process.
  • Innovation: a variety of stakeholders creates new perspectives and innovative projects .

How to engage?
In the practical management of the SPONGE 2020 project we realised several pilot projects and we developed a 5 step approach together. This is not the only way to work with stakeholders but it’s a good start.

  • Step 1 Identify stakeholders

    Start by identifying your stakeholders involved within your project. Who affects and/or could be affected by the project? This identification can be done with, inter alia the factor C method (go to dutch website). Below you find methodes for getting in touch with local stakeholders.

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  • Step 2 Listen and inform

    In your first contact with stakeholders it is crucial to listen first to their ideas and concerns and to give this attention. Stakeholders have sometimes very different backgrounds, needs, expectations, influence and control with the actor within the process. Listening will give you information about your stakeholders and their capacity and willingness to cooperate. Informing about the program requirements is crucial to establish a collective starting point.

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  • Step 3 Exchange

    After listening and informing and creating more understanding among the stakeholders, it is wise to look for the most suitable ways of working together. A good collaboration helps to remove barriers, creates support and gives a common dot on the horizon.

    Some example barriers for a good collaboration are:

    • Lack of information (what is climate change?)
    • Lack of financial support (no budget for the (perceived) additional costs)
    • Lack of trust (problems with government in the past)
    • Lack of shared reframing (no perceived benefits)
    • Lack of commitment
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  • Step 4 Integrate interests

    After identifying the interests “what’s in it for me” of the stakeholders you have to develop a strategy and/or a spatial design to integrate your goals for the plan (e.q. make a water resilient neighbourhood) with the interests of stakeholders (e.q. the residents need more parking places).

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  • Step 5 Agree

    It is important to pay attention to an agreement with the common goals. This leads to commitment. An agreement can be a letter of intent or a binding agreement. It is also important to celebrate the milestones such a signing the agreement and to address it in a broader context.

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All methods