Summary of Live Forum: Stakeholder Management in Water Projects


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This is the summary of the LIVE Forum III: "Stakeholder Management in Water Projects", held on 17 Nov 2006 in the virtual Water Knowledge Fair 2006

The key questions discussed were:

  1. Is the commonly used methodology (incl. "TDA/SAP") still valid, or do or even better, approaches (such as Multi-Criteria Analysis - MCA) exist to identify, and efficiently and effectively include stakeholders in transboundary and national water projects?
  2. To what extent are indirect aspects like sustainable development, poverty, improved public health, biodiversity etc. addressed in water projects?

The overall aim of this forum was not to place the focus on only the TDA/SAP process and methodology, but simply in general terms, share thoughts concerning how stakeholders are being analysed, managed and engaged within the context of the participants experiences.

Some interesting questions that were raised in the forum were: What measuring tools are being applied to detect stakeholder interests, and how could they within the context of project objectives, scale and context be improved? What criteria should determine stakeholder involvement in the decision making process?


Stakeholder participation, engagement and involvement in decision making

  • Today, the water management decision-making body has an obligation, and at times legal responsibility, in regards to providing adequate information and consulting stakeholders.
  • Actively engaging stakeholders is often only encouraged, and not required.
  • In regards to analysing, engaging and involving stakeholders, some of the following point were raised/discussed:
    • Stakeholder participation as a protest
    • Willingness of Stakeholders to participate in a project
    • Consultation versus Active Involvement
    • Ensuring that the planning process remains manageable
    • Invited versus Voluntary Participation
    • Definition of access to decision-making in relation to the Aarhus Convention
    • Managing stakeholders, and the key role of the project facilitator
    • Minimal use of stakeholder input in projects
    • Definition of problem situations when multiple stakeholders are involved
    • Integration of stakeholders into the decision making process. In regards to e.g. the current TDA/SAP process, stakeholders are identified and consulted, but not involved directly in project management.
    • Lack of direct mechanisms to link and ensure cooperation between all stakeholders

TDA / SAP process

Following are some of the points raised in regards to the TDA/SAP process

do the following:

  1. Refinement of the CCA and development of associated new approaches for strengthening the TDA/SAP methodology
  2. Review of the TDA/SAP Process
  3. Preparation of an accessible GEF International Waters Focal Area manual

For more details on these contributions see p. 2-4; 6 & 10 in the Full Transcript (attached at the end of this page)

Other tools and methods

  • Alternative tools and methods to help analyse the stakeholder context, in contrast to traditional stakeholder analysis approaches, represented one important aspect of this discussion. * There is however a multitude of tools and methods available today beyond the scope of this forum.
  • Following are some of the methods mentioned or discussed in the forum:
    • Cognitive mapping
    • Dynamic Actor Network Analysis
    • Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA)
    • Value based assessment procedure
    • Progressive articulation of preferences
    • Participatory Community Appraisal (PCA)
    • Community Action Plan (CAP)
    • Civic Advocacy Grant Programme (CAG)
    • Role playing simulation
    • Open Space Technology

Multi Criteria Analysis

  • The use of Multi Criteria Analysis (MCA) represent one set of many tools available that can help provide a transparent analysis of the impact of proposed policy measures in regards to the various criteria of interest to different stakeholders.
  • As stated during the discussion “MCA is one of the most powerful tools to support policy analysis in multi-stakeholder settings.”

For the contributions on this topic see p. 14-15 in the Full Transcript (attached at the end of this page)


  • The focus in the forum on 'New Approaches to Stakeholder Management in Water Projects' has not been so much on the TDA/SAP process as a whole, nor on the specific details of conducting a stakeholder analysis.
  • Instead a general and quite broad discussion was held in regards to how stakeholders are being analysed, managed and engaged in projects today, as well as some suggestions for future development.
  • For instance, on a theoretical basis, applying an adaptive management framework (like the TDA/SAP) should allow all participants with recurring chances to correct the paradigms, hypothesis, policies, action plans, and measuring tool (such as indicators and criteria) in a transparent and cyclic process. But given restrictions (in regards to e.g. time and resources) many questions remains as to what extent this is being accomplished within projects that has applied the TDA/SAP process?
  • However, the complexity of adaptive systems is partly the result of the diversity of causes, a repertoire of alternative solutions (and the means to identify them) can become the basis for a solution in the future. By integrating experiences related to the selection of participants and stakeholders; practical difficulties with implementation, etc, we learn while managing.


See also

  • Water Planning Tools: an Australian R&D project trialling and evaluating tools for stakeholder engagement in water planning and management

External Resources

The official Water Knowledge Fair 2006 website


 Live Forum3 - TRANSCRIPT.pdf

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