Date: July, 4, 2017
Location: University of Amsterdam, RoetereilandComplex. Building C103.
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Stakeholder participation in marine management: connecting practice with theory
The MARE Policy Day 2017 focuses on dilemmas of stakeholder participation in marine policy processes. The inclusion of stakeholders in marine policy processes is common in many countries around the world. In the European Union, stakeholder participation is called for in two frameworks that govern marine management: the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Marine Spatial Planning directive (MSP). Stakeholder participation in the CFP has also been institutionalised by the establishment of (Regional) Advisory Councils in 2002. There are various treaties calling for the participation of stakeholders in decision making processes and in addition, national governments often invite stakeholders to participate in policy processes related to the marine domain.
In spite of the fact that stakeholder processes are often in place, in practice it proves a challenge to organise genuine, and effective, stakeholder participation. Questions emerge such as: What is the best level to engage in situations of multi-level governance? How can stakeholder participation best be organised in a meaningful way? How to prevent stakeholder fatigue? In some cases, stakeholder processes have apparently been ‘successful’, but nevertheless actors involved, policy makers or stakeholders, sometimes express disappointment with the outcomes. Alternatively, questions arise about whom has been invited to sit at the table (and who is not, and why).
While practitioners struggle with the prerequisites of stakeholder involvement, the academic literature abounds with prescriptions for stakeholder participation, describing its relevance and suggesting best practices. This leads to the question, however, whether practitioners make use of the proposed methods at all, or whether the connection between literature and practice is too abstract or normative and not useful in practice?
During the MARE Policy Day we will bring the practitioner and the academic worlds together to draw lessons for the future. We will discuss three specific dilemmas of stakeholder participation. Thereby we will link the practice of stakeholder participation to the theory of stakeholder participation; by sharing experiences we hope to identify new approaches and improve stakeholder participation processes.
The MARE policy day is organised by MARE in collaboration with two Dutch Ministries: the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. Both Ministries are involved in marine management of the North Sea and have broad experience with organising stakeholder processes . The Policy Day will gather policy officers, stakeholders and social scientists.
The dilemmas we would like to discuss are the following:
- Unsatisfactory outcomes of stakeholder processes: What if stakeholders are asked to give advice to the government and do not reach agreement? And what criteria are used to appreciate one argument above another in a deadlock situation? What if a compromise between stakeholder groups is reached, but the compromise is very far off from the initial policy goals? What if one organises a stakeholder process, and takes a decision on the basis of outcomes, that is not really supported by stakeholders?
- Representation of stakeholders: What if representatives appear to / do not represent all stakeholders? What if new stakeholder groups ask to participate in the stakeholder process at hand? What if stakeholders, claiming not to be sufficiently represented, oppose the compromise reached? And how does stakeholder participation compare to societal representation in parliaments?
- Dilemmas of multi-level governance: Sometimes policymakers and stakeholders need to play ‘chess’ on different boards at the same time; on the one hand there is a direct negotiation process, on the other there is lobby activity going on towards parliament – what is the best phasing and procedure to follow?
Impression of the 2015 MARE policy day