Facilitation is essential for smooth interactions with stakeholders. Any member of the scientific-management team can act as a facilitator at any stage of the assessment. However, a very common mistake is to assume that social scientists are ‘natural’ facilitators, even though facilitation is not a social science discipline. Another major risk is that the appointed or self-appointed facilitator uses his or her position to steer the forum towards certain preconceived opinions, either deliberately or unconsciously.
Facilitation requires skills that go far beyond communication or knowledge of the issue being assessed. Unless some members of the core group have developed these skills and are willing to take on this role, the expertise of a professional facilitator is an option to consider. In any case, scientists or managers who claim the role of facilitator should consider training in facilitation techniques.
For stakeholder workshops to be successful in terms of engagement, they need to be prepared in advance, well structured and facilitated. The exchange should be dynamic, using a variety of engagement tools, alternating between large and small group discussions to ensure everyone’s contribution, and maintaining a balance in the speaking time of different participants to avoid dominant tendencies in the debate. Scripting the workshop in advance would thus ensure a real dynamic of exchange. Ideas should be collected using writing tools – drawings, cards, post-its – to keep track of everyone’s contributions.
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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