Where are the Guidelines for the Participatory Process?

Reflections on the 2nd Annual Meeting of CCN

 

The 2nd Annual Meeting of CCN was held under the title “Guidelines for Good Practice as a way of encouraging stakeholder involvement across catchment management” at the Arup Campus, Solihull.   It provided an excellent set of talks and
discussions which may be found at (see http://www.catchmentchange.net/about/ccn-annual-conference).   And it made me think….

 

When reflecting some years ago on how to introduce more realistic assessments of uncertainty into flood risk management, the concept of Guidelines for Good Practice seemed to be a sensible way of introducing a framework for allowing for the subjectivity inherent in representing different sources of uncertainty.   Structuring such guidelines as a set of decisions, where different degrees of effort might be invoked for different types of application is also a sensible way of allowing for proportionality and lack of knowledge in uncertainty assessments.   Such decisions would need to be agreed between analyst and users or stakeholders and this seemed to me to be a useful structure for agreeing assumptions, communicating the meaning of uncertainty assessments, and providing an audit trail for later evaluation and revisions.

 

This still seems fine, but also too simplistic.  It was intended to provide a structure that decides on how uncertainties can be handled in a scientific assessment (originally in flood risk management).  It was not intended as a guide as to HOW to manage user or stakeholder involvement.   It already assumes that it is possible for the stakeholders to come to a sensible agreement about those many and different decisions in the analysis process. This would then seem to demand a different form of Guideline document to guide Good Practice involving stakeholders in the process.   Many of the talks at the CCN meeting were about this:  posing questions about how to do it, reflecting on experience of trying to do it, discussing the issues that it raises when many different groups and levels of stakeholders (“emotive” / “institutional” / “financial” ; organised / disorganised; ….).  These issues are common to all the focus areas of CCN.  They are even incorporated into practice in the form of the Water Framework and Floods Directives.  It would therefore seem worthwhile to consider whether it might be possible to produce a Guideline for Good Practice document for stakeholder involvement and the participatory process that would be relevant across the focus areas.

 

A good topic for a future CCN workshop at least – but given all the experience of doing stakeholder involvement already, some guidance should already exist, should it not?    Any suggestions from the community out there about where to look? Or about what works and what doesn’t?   Or whether developing such a guidance process might be worthwhile or not?   Any suggestions or comments (to k.beven@lancaster.ac.uk) welcome!

 

 

 

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