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Engage stakeholders

The engagement of stakeholders is one of the key activities to develop a successful EEAP and to improve the chances of a successful implementation of the EEAP. By engaging different stakeholders in some way connected to and affected by the energy production and consumption in the city in the development of the EEAP you can facilitate the entire process. Though it is important to remember that stakeholder engagement also comes with challenges. Here is a list of good things to remember when engaging stakeholders in energy efficiency.

To think about

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What is the stakeholder culture in the city?

Different cities have different cultures when it comes to stakeholder engagement. For some cities including stakeholders in the planning process is common practice. This builds a culture where stakeholders are used to the process of giving input and receiving output. Other cities rarely include stakeholders and when they do they face challenges in getting useful input or handling situations where the stakeholders view clash with the city organization’s plans. In these cities engaging stakeholders can be a challenge since the common view is that the municipal organization should develop the strategic plans themselves.

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Remember the decision makers

Decision makers are crucial to the initiation and finalization of the EEAP. They need to be treated separately than other stakeholders and included in the entire process.

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Increased experiences

Stakeholders can help the project group to learn from previous experiences both what to do and what not to do.

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Plan for implementation

Committed stakeholders will not only participate during the development of the plan, they can also play an important role in the implementation of the same.

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Be aware of the objectives to engaging stakeholders

In short term and especially in cities with a culture where stakeholders are rarely approached stakeholder engagement can be time consuming. Though when you consider the potential time savings that can be made thanks to having a well anchored EEAP within the community.

Strong stakeholders can get unfair amount of influence on the EEAP compared to weaker stakeholders who still might have important input. It is even more complicated when different stakeholders give opposite input. Therefore any stakeholder meetings have to be carefully moderated and the input analyzed.

Engaging stakeholders raises expectations. Therefore it is important to be clear about what the expected outcome will be. In case there is a misunderstanding engaging stakeholders can be seen as “waking a sleeping bear”.

Handling stakeholders in Turku

Turku addresses the situation when different stakeholders give contradictory input. This can be a challenge to solve. First priority is to try finding a solution within the municipal administration but depending on the topic some issues can be brought to the politicians to handle.

Choosing stakeholders for energy efficiency

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The “right” stakeholders

Energy efficiency can potentially affect everyone in a city. Therefore the choice of stakeholders is affected by the focus and scope of the EEAP. What is important is to consider what input the stakeholder can give to the EEAP and what benefits that the stakeholder can get for engaging. Including other cities and organizations from other regions, for example energy companies and universities, should also be considered.

The church is an important stakeholder in Santiago de Compostela

In Santiago de Compostela the church is an important stakeholder. Religion is strongly embedded in the society and the church owns a large part of the city’s cultural buildings. Thus the church is an important stakeholders both considering potential energy efficiency activities in specific buildings and when communicating energy efficiency to the society as a trustworthy organization. This is an example of how important it is to consider local pre-conditions.

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Co-operation with the private sector in policy development

For EEAPs with a scope that extends the municipal organization cooperation with the private sector can provide valuable input to the EEAP and invaluable preparations for the implementation. This also allows for a combined public and private funding of the EEAP. 

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Public

Inviting the public to give input to strategic plans is especially beneficial in actions for behavioral change. It is good to invite the public in specific actions or topics rather than giving their opinions on the entire EEAP. A good engagement from the public can result in a large amount of data.

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Aim for stakeholder diversity

If a group of stakeholders are very homogenous it might not be representative for the society. This is important to take into consideration when analyzing the input.

Communicating with stakeholders

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Clear responsibilities

Unclear definition of responsibilities of the project organization and the stakeholders can lead to misunderstandings. When a stakeholder is invited to participate in the planning process it should be clear what is expected.

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Aim for long-term commitment

Stakeholders can have different roles connected to EEAP. Some will give important data and others will be crucial for the implementation. No matter which an aim to build a long-term commitment is beneficial to the EEAP. For example data that is collected during the development of the plan might also be collected continuously when evaluating the progress of the implementation.

Stakeholder database in Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent includes a large number of stakeholders in their planning process. The city has a database over organizations and citizens who want to or have to be consulted. The database is continuously updated. Their opinions are heard in consultation rounds where they can leave comments on the strategic plan during the process. This allows the project group to manage some of the objections and proposals early on when it is easier to make big changes. When it is time to write the plan there is a strong base for motivating the choices of the plan.

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Point out the benefits

To get the commitment from a stakeholder it is crucial that they recognize their benefit from participating. Be very clear when communicating what is in it for them and treat all stakeholders differently according to their interests and needs. A broad stakeholder support can be important to gain the interest from decision makers. That is not to say that stakeholder engagement is not without its risks, and it is a process which should be actively and carefully managed.

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Adopt forum

Giving input can be done in different forums that can be chosen depending on available resources. Consider if workshops, questionnaires or interviews are most suitable.

Common goal with stakeholders in Tartu

In the City of Tartu the culture to engage stakeholders in the development of strategic plans is well-established. Stakeholders representing different sectors of the society are engaged in thematic groups addressing different topics, for example energy, building and transportation. Each thematic group has a group leader in charge of inviting the members. When the municipal organization develops a plan the thematic group or groups give input during the entire development process. To finalize the plan all objections from the stakeholders have to be addressed. The aim of everyone included in the planning process is to reach a good end result and therefore there is a respect to give qualitative input. The number of thematic groups and number of members in each group varies but the timeframe to finish the plan is rarely exceeded.

In this video you can see the outcome of a workshop on who, why and how to engage stakeholders in energy efficiency planning