When asked about their satisfaction, parties to participatory assessment refer as much to the process as to the outputs of the assessment. It is a journey that can last between eighteen and thirty months, involving many social interactions between scientists, between scientists and managers and, beyond that, with stakeholders and policy makers.
Agreeing on the issue to be explored and the assessment’s objectives is crucial to the overall success of the process. Most dissatisfaction expressed at the end of a participatory assessment is related to unclear definitions of the issues and objectives in the early stages of the project. Sufficient time needs to be devoted to this initial phase, and facilitation techniques such as ‘Triage’ or more sophisticated techniques are important for its successful completion. It is also important to identify and invite to the table, from the outset, all the expertise needed to address the issue. This may even involve reframing the issue in the absence of expertise.
A participatory assessment should also be managed as an adaptive social process with room for innovation along the way. The means and the objectives should be open to discussion throughout the assessment, always taking into account the limitation of resources (time and/or knowledge). Each participant should consider that they are in both a ‘learning and teaching’ position.
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Improving the management of atlantic landscapes: acounting for biodiversity and ecosystem services Interreg Atlantic Area, started in 2017
Coordination by J. Ballé-Béganton and D. Bailly