News & Musings

Critical Elements for Meaningful Engagement

Posted on Feb 07 2018

Indigenous people and civil society all play critical roles in developing policy and processes to facilitate responsible land, water, minerals and energy resource development and use. Yet often people are consulted after decisions are made, or it is not clear what influence, if any, they have over decisions, which can contribute to frustration, apathy, and anger. 

Certainly there are times when internal leaders can and should lean in and facilitate conversations to build relationships within organizations and in communities. However, if trust is low and conflict is high in community and/or multi-stakeholder groups it is unlikely that people will have confidence in a process led by government or company representatives. Neutral facilitators support processes to be unbiased and as ethical as possible @IAFacilitators

As @RedheadSteph articulated so well in her article on the Peel Watershed decision, it is critical to:

  • Design a meaningful engagement that gets people in the room engaging in a rich purposeful deliberative conversation to identify:
    • What values are at stake?
    • What is our shared history? (where have we been, where are we now)
    • What will make the process meaningful from a participant perspective?
    • What are the principles that will guide the discussions and engagement?
    • What outcomes do participants hope for and what are specific indicators of success?
    • What roles will people play, who needs to be part of the conversation?
  • Then plan engagement based on this understanding to build trust and ensure the process is fair, inclusive and transparent. Check out the tools and processes for meaningful public engagement @IAP2Canada
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