Stakeholder engagement includes all processes that aim to engage relevant interest groups for the sound protection and fair use of natural resources. In the water context, a variety of actors take decisions or are impacted by them. Developing stakeholder engagement processes fosters a common understanding of complex water resource issues in order to agree on solutions and support their implementation. Stakeholder engagement can take various forms and take place on local, national, and transboundary scales. Stakeholder engagement is achieved through different mechanisms, some of which need to be institutionalised, while others are more informal.
The programme promotes stakeholder engagement at national (e.g. National Policy Dialogues) and local (river basin) levels. The EU4Environment Water and Data programme applies two main approaches used by EU Member States and formalised in the EU Water Framework Directive:
- Institutionalisation of River Basin Councils to engage water management institutions, local authorities and water users.
- Information and public consultation: regular targeted dialogue and awareness-raising activities with local residents and stakeholders who have different levels of knowledge, engagement and interests.
In Azerbaijan, the programme supports the coordination between different water management agencies, in parallel with the work undertaken by the Water Commission and its working groups.
UNECE and OECD
(National Policy Dialogues)
International Office for Water
(Basin councils and awareness-raising)
River basin organisations (sometimes called councils, committees, etc.) are institutional established bodies responsible for overseeing the development and management of water resources at the river basin level. They are usually, but not always, formal legal bodies. In some cases, less formal arrangements are also in place. Their role is to formulate and monitor medium- to long-term plans for water resources management in the basin. They may help mobilise financial resources to implement the necessary measures to harmonize actions taken by the different actors in the river basin, and may resolve conflicts. They also keep basin stakeholders and decision-makers involved and well informed.
Together with “information” and “active engagement”, they constitute the three forms of “public participation” as defined in article 14 of the EU Water Framework Directive. Consultation is a step above sharing information: it means enabling a dialogue with water stakeholders and users, collecting their feedback in the process of the river basin management development plan and taking them into account.