Choosing the right techniques
There is a wide range of possible tool and techniques, classified according to the form of participation envisaged. Key issues to be considered include:
- level/degree of participation considered appropriate;
- type and number of stakeholders, levels of environmental awareness, education,
- technical knowledge, social status, level of interest;
- nature of the project - complexity and technical nature of the information to be disseminated, and discussed;
- available resources - including finance, time, staff and skills.
Potential mechanisms should be assessed before application. Assessment can include consideration of purpose, target groups, advantages and disadvantages, reliability, timing, feedback value, resources, role in strategy.
Suitable techniques should be tailored to local circumstances, issues and the needs of all participants.
- relevant techniques should be devised and used to suit specific modes of participation: information-giving and information-gathering (as forms of consultation); shared working and/or decision making; degrees of empowerment;
- techniques should be designed with specific groups of stakeholders in mind, and targeted to encourage their involvement;
- techniques should be both affordable and reliable, thereby sustaining trust in the process and avoiding breakdown in communication;
- techniques should assist and encourage consensus building by helping to develop co-operative relationships through a structured program of involvement;
- participation opportunities must be skillfully managed by keeping to program and promises, quality of organisation, and conduct of activities;
- measurable outcomes (indicators) must be sought in both quantitative and qualitative terms.