The Public Affairs Foundation (PAF) recently organised an awareness programme on the importance of the role of stakeholders in making a policy effective. While participating in the course I realised why stakeholder engagement is important not only during the policymaking process, but also in the implementation and monitoring stages.
Briefly, stakeholder engagement includes identifying, analysing, planning, and implementing activities/policies systematically. To do this it is important to identify, engage with, and understand the requirements of stakeholders.
Ideally the tools and techniques include:
- Analysing data
- Representing data
- Communicating ideas
In addition to the above, it is important to map the stakeholders through different engagements events, such as face-to-face meetings, emails, phone calls, etc. Their response to the above also serves as an indication to measure stakeholder engagement.
Public policy stakeholder engagement is a process where information is gathered systematically and analysed to define the interests and involvement of various actors in a public policy or programme. Typically, stakeholder engagement is particularly important during these stages:
- Agenda setting: The government identifies the need for a policy
- Analysis: Information is gathered and analysed to determines the importance of and urgency for a new policy
- Formulation: Policies are designed/created based on the analysis
- Evaluation: The value of the policy is assessed
- Implementation: Where actual ‘action’ occurs
Characteristics of stakeholder engagement
- Significance: Understand the objective clearly
- Iterative: Recognise interrelationships between the different stakeholders
- Collaborative: Understand everyone’s needs before translating them into a policy
Principles that guide stakeholder engagement
- Encourage inclusiveness and representation
- Encourage broad involvement and representation from diverse stakeholders
- Understand and create a conducive environment to allow stakeholders to participate in all the stages
- Develop relationships to include mutual learning and understanding
- Establish clear and transparent information and feedback processes to acknowledge mistakes and misunderstandings
- Share feedback constructively for accountability
- Build strong collaborative relationships with stakeholders whose involvement is valued and respected
This event did a lot to convince me and other participants to ensure that stakeholder engagement becomes an essential aspect of all policymaking processes.