In the process of public participation stakeholders are individuals, institutions, organizations, or specific groups of people with different concerns and interests in the project that could also be potentially affected by its delivery or outputs.
Stakeholders are very important actors because they play an important role in the project development process and they can improve the quality of decision-making. They are providing valuable inputs like their skills, knowledge, expertise and experience to the project.
They can be existing or potential users of project outputs.
Stakeholders can be defined by different aspects in one or more categories simultaneously.
STATUS stakeholders are a set composed by different urban actors: Institutions (Public administration bodies with responsibilities in urban and territorial planning), private actors (e.g Large, medium and small enterprises, chambers of commerce, foundations…), third sector and cultural associations (e.g. NGOs), simple organized group of citizens. The project attitude is to be open to all instances presenting an interest in playing a role in the process leading to design of the Strategic Agendas.
Basically stakeholders can be divided according to their interests and influences into primary and secondary stakeholders. Primary stakeholders have a high level of interactivity and are vital for the success of a project. Secondary stakeholders affect or are affected by the project and its results, but are not essential for its success.
According to the STATUS aims the stakeholders can be structured as:
Public authorities on different administrative levels:
National level: territorial/urban development ministries, development agencies, departments (dealing with transport, nature, environment, geology, forests, etc.), statistical offices, mapping, GIS, energy authorities, etc.
Regional level: regional development agencies, etc.
Local level: municipalities, district government body
Business: real estate agencies, investors, architect and engineers chambers/associations, chamber of commerce
Educational and research institutions: universities, high schools, educational and training institutes, etc.
Civil society and NGOs (third sector)
Clubs, associations and activist groups
Stakeholder engagement is a continuous process by which an organisation involves people who may be affected by decisions taken in the project. Further the stakeholders can influence the implementation process, results and outcomes for the time of the project.
Stakeholder engagement is a form of risk management of the project and should be a key tool of any sustainable development agenda. With stakeholder engagement and with stakeholder analysis many potential risks can be recognized and avoided. They are then treated in risk register and properly addressed by mitigation and contingency plan.
The STATUS project needs to engage with many stakeholder groups with different interests, concerns, needs and level of influence. For a successful project it is essential to recognize them, know their issues and motivate them through all stages of project development.
An area-based approach represents the delineation of an urban or territorial area characterized usually by homogeneity, social cohesiveness, a sense of belonging or common needs and expectations, as the target area for policy implementation. Having such an area as a reference facilitates the recognition of local strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities, endogenous potential and the identification of major bottlenecks for sustainable development. (EC, 2012)
Participatory planning is a process by which a community undertakes to reach a given socio-economic goal by consciously diagnosing its problems and charting a course of action to resolve those problems (FAO.org). Experts are needed, but only as facilitators, and the real deliberation of the local needs and wants is done by way of stakeholder dialogue, negotiation and co-design of the final solution. The STATUS project is applying such a planning framework based on a participatory approach in lower-tier administrative territories which need integrated solutions for solving specific problems.
STATUS aims at finding the right solution to operationalize the concept of integrated territorial approach, corroborating it with the implementation of participatory processes at the local level able to redesign the ways in which decisions are made. The result of this project in every partner city or region was the design of a strategic agenda. The STATUS Management preferred to use the term agenda, not plan, in the STATUS design phase.
The term plan, very often, and especially in this area of intervention, is particularly connected to normative reasoning. In STATUS the normative plans (e.g. Land Use Management Plans, and other similar zoning instruments) never constituted relevant elements to underlie the planning process, due to them always having a delay in respect to real urban transformation, or being ex post representation of decisions. In STATUS it is important to build the decision, to be protagonists of the decision, and even to enlarge the area of decision makers – hence the Strategic Agendas represent visions for territorial cohesion, a flexible urban programming tool transposing the results of the local workshops into a coherent strategic planning document which contains the vision, mission, action plan and monitoring. Moreover, the Agendas are also a tool for future partnership and negotiation with the national and EU levels: they contain a portfolio of the flagship projects for each city together with the potential funding sources and local, regional and national opportunities for partnership.
The STATUS project poster plan represents an easy-to-comprehend visual memory of the Agendas. As the summary of the Strategic Territorial or Urban Agendas in the STATUS projects, the poster plans can be considered a graphic representation of the entire participatory planning process, the visual synthesis of the opinions expressed by different stakeholders and highlighted as fundamental for the development strategies of the given territories (Cocheci, 2015). In the STATUS project, poster plan’s purpose can be viewed from three distinct angles:
A graphic synthesized representation of the Territorial Strategic Agenda
A synoptic document that introduces the planning and territorial development choices of public administration within a framework
An instrument to mediate these choices by means of public consultation, involving citizens, interested local stakeholders, technical experts on governance and territorial management (Mušič, 2014)
Diagram: public participation in the STATUS project (Baia Mare poster plan)
Map: Transboundary integration concept (Baia Mare poster plan)
Graphs: Stakeholder involvement (Baia Mare poster plan)
Urban Task Force
Participation is a key focus point of the STATUS project and should be facilitated throughout the whole path leading to the Strategic Urban/Territorial Agenda. The STATUS Urban Task Forces represents the stakeholder group distilled from the participatory workshops: a dynamic and inclusive group of stakeholders coming not only from the administration, but being completed and sustained by local business sector stakeholders, social actors and NGOs, universities and research institutions.
In view of the definition of the Urban Task Force (UTF) tool, which is a constant generator of ideas and solutions for cities issues, there are several questions that have to be addressed before such a tool is enforced. Most important is that an UTF is charged with providing new ideas from non-aligned perspectives, meaning that the framework for achieving such relative independence (from mostly politically driven, often short-term public interests and profit-driven private initiatives) is of key importance. Considering the widest definition of the involved actors, whereby an UTF is a group of citizens, experts (national and international), and stakeholders (both public and private) continuously monitoring and programming urban policies and tools for sustainable, coherent and resilient development, in respect of one or more recognized major challenge at the urban scale, the effectiveness of the tool has to be set up to meet the challenge and in reasonable time deliver the desired result. (UIRS, UTF and UC methodology, 2014)
Over the past decades, the term Urban Center has come to mean an array of different facilities, at the beginning mostly found in Anglo-Saxon countries, which sometimes were the result of direct city government involvement. They were established to provide services to the actors involved (or potentially interested) in the urban policy decision-making process, with the goal of improving the level of information, knowledge, transparency, participation, sharing and efficacy.
“Urban Center” is a term defined in the United States after the Second World War to indicate several types of facilities whose common goal was the critical involvement of civil society in the urban and local transformation policies. The forerunners of the better established US facilities date back to the formation of civil organizations: MAS in New York (1893) and SPUR San Francisco (1910) (Ginocchini, 2015).
In STATUS, the Urban Centers represent physical places in the city, serving as an interface between the local administration and citizens, a space of meeting, workshops, UTF reunions, a place to show plans, programs and initiatives to citizens and to provide context for documentation, communication and exhibition (“City Museum” – Ginocchini, 2015)