4 Examples of Stakeholder Engagement In Policy
We share examples of stakeholder consultation in successful policy making and development (and not-so-successful), including healthcare policy, public policy, environment, and more.
Looking for ideas and inspiration to help engage stakeholders in policy development and implementation? Or best practices you can follow to ensure a successful consultation?
In our previous blog on policy consultation and the importance of stakeholders, we talked about the benefits of stakeholder engagement in policy making — and some key steps to start or improve your consultation.
Here, we’ll explore some examples of stakeholder engagement in policy to help illustrate the importance and impact of effective consultation.
You don’t have to look too far to find some great (and sometimes not-so-great) examples of stakeholder consultation in policy. Here are just a few…
Health Policy Making
Stakeholders are commonly engaged in health policy making — from nationwide healthy eating recommendations and messages against smoking, drinking, and recreational drugs… to changes in the way local health systems operate, like Medicare, the NHS, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
One study looked at the development of mental health policies in South Africa. It found that consultation did not lead to substantive changes in policy, and that there were no systematic processes for capturing knowledge or stakeholder input, or transferring this input between different levels of government. And draft policies were not consulted on further prior to being finalized, which led to participant concerns about policy implementation.
It’s clear that stakeholder consultation in healthcare policy is important, but it has to be done properly to have a positive impact.
Another study looked at the importance of consumer involvement in developing healthcare policy, practice guidelines, and patient information material. Evidence suggested that involving consumers in the development of patient information material led to more relevant, digestible, and understandable contents that helped to improve patients’ knowledge without impacting their anxiety.
But what about when healthcare policies and guidelines need a fast response (as we’ve seen in recent years)?
A study published on Transparent Development of the WHO Rapid Advice Guidelines admitted that ‘involvement of stakeholders through consultation is limited by the rapid process’ and made recommendations for improving stakeholder involvement in future. This included:
- Facilitating rapid consultations with established stakeholder groups
- Involving stakeholders in guideline revisions
- Getting stakeholders involved in local adaptation processes
Local Planning Policies
Stakeholder engagement often plays a major role in changes to public policy, local planning, and laws.
For instance, the UK’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities recently consulted on their Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill. They were seeking views on how they might develop new national planning policy in support of wider objectives.
We also shared in a previous blog about how Moreton Bay Regional Council (MBRC) uses our stakeholder management software to help manage and engage with stakeholders in their local community. Throughout 2021, the council were consulting with members of the public on a new planning scheme policy in preparation for a new local development. Another project they’re currently consulting on is a local laws review — with stakeholder consultation playing a critical role in the process. Consultation methods include various events, platforms, surveys, and a dedicated consultation website, Your Say.
It’s interesting to look at some recent housing policy interventions, too, in the context of a rapidly changing environment during COVID-19, and resulting economic and societal shifts. For instance, in Australia, various policies and initiatives were introduced in early 2020 in response to the lockdown and potential economic impacts. This included short-term stimulus aimed at the residential building sector, increased welfare payments, and additional accommodation for people facing homelessness.
Of course, such fast responses leave very little time for stakeholder consultation — and it’s worth speculating whether consultation could have anticipated and avoided some unintended consequences that have contributed to rapidly increasing house prices, building supply shortages, building company collapses, and inflation.
Perhaps in the future, we’ll see governments and organizations explore ways to quickly mobilize stakeholders and conduct effective and meaningful consultation, while maintaining an appropriate response to the situation.
Education Frameworks and Policies
Stakeholder consultation in the education sector is important to ensure that government and institution policies consider a range of perspectives.
For instance, when Australia’s eSafety Commissioner was charged with developing a national framework for online safety education, this was developed based on a two-stage process that included stakeholder consultation. Firstly, evidence from eight different sources were reviewed to create a foundation for the framework that addressed key elements and effective practices. Secondly, the group conducted individual interviews with online safety experts, and held focus groups with stakeholders that represented school-sector organizations and children’s advocacy groups. Although the framework has been released, people are still invited to contribute feedback via an online survey to share how they are using the framework.
In a number of jurisdictions, schools and policy makers have recently held discussions around school-based sex education for children — what content is beneficial and at what age? By consulting with a range of stakeholders (parents, young people, teachers, child psychologists, child safety experts, religious groups, etc.), policy decision makers can gain a more complete picture of the various issues and concerns.
One study in the UK looked at five research sources and conducted stakeholder consultation to identify what makes sex and relationship education effective, acceptable, sustainable, and able to be implemented. Along with other findings, they discovered that school-based programs and health services could effectively improve sexual health, and that there’s consensus that good programs start in elementary school. These findings can be used as a basis for scheduling sex education programs in future.
Finally, COVID-19 brought about significant impacts for the education sector, and a number of policy changes. Lockdowns impacted schools and higher education providers, and impacts on stakeholders were not felt equally. For instance, impacts were often greater on disabled students, international students, indigenous students, and students from poorer households. In future, better stakeholder consultation (even in fast-evolving situations) would ensure that policies are more inclusive and fair.
When designing or updating policies to protect the environment, stakeholder consultation (with relevant groups) is important to consider a range of perspectives and potential consequences. Without proper consultation, there’s a greater chance of introducing environmentally harmful policies and approvals — and eroding public trust.
A literature review found that stakeholder perceptions play an important role in describing complex, socio-economic tipping points that can be used to inform climate policy. For example, stakeholders were able to share the impacts of issues like the collapse of winter sports tourism, migration due to sea level rise, and farmland abandonment.
In many jurisdictions, environmental agencies are increasingly engaging with indigenous people to understand their impact and coordinate efforts. For example, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has specific policies for how they consult and coordinate with Indian Tribes. And Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), recognizes the important role indigenous people play in conservation, biodiversity, and sustainable use of resources, with clear guidelines to engage early with indigenous stakeholders.
Want to learn more about stakeholder engagement and consultation in policy making? Take a look at the following related resources:
Policy Consultation & the Importance of Stakeholders [Blog]
Or contact our team to find out how the Simply Stakeholders platform can support your policy consultation process.