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 Georgia, there is yet no institutionalised body such as a River Basin Council to drive stakeholder engagement processes in the river basin. The EU-funded programme promotes the development and further institutionalisation of River Basin Councils meetings. The programme also supports capacity building of Georgian stakeholders in the Rioni and Enguri river basins to agree together on the necessary measures to achieve a good quality of water and avoid its depletion.