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Building a Modern Stakeholder Engagement Framework for Land Development Projects

Published: November 25, 2021

Effective stakeholder engagement has always played a key role in the success of land development projects.

However, an increased focus on the legal rights and requirements of land development and sustainability has added to the complexity of the stakeholder engagement process. Whether it’s a public vote on a specific industrial site location or complying with regional planning changes, engaging with stakeholders needs a fresh approach that not only takes into account their legal rights but improves levels of transparency and trust in the process.

Transparency and trust are even more critical when we consider that the actors involved in land development projects are no longer limited to planning authorities and the local community but are from a wider circle involved in sustainability, climate protection, biodiversity, and finance. Having an engagement framework that takes public concerns and laws seriously and understands the needs of more diverse stakeholder voices will also help to ensure that land development projects are more likely to be completed with fewer changes and fewer delays. Taking steps now to modernize the stakeholder engagement framework will help deal with the growing complexities of land development.

#1 Take a forward-looking approach

There are no fixed rules on stakeholder alignment. But the advantages of mapping out stakeholder requirements and needs beyond the current timeframe are often overlooked. Assessing planning laws and sustainability targets that are in the pipeline, as well as analyzing demographic changes, can strengthen stakeholder engagement measures. Also, consider how the development will fit into the overall industrial and environmental landscape, including the future needs of local communities. Taking a more forward-looking approach ensures the project is legally feasible, sustainable, and better aligned with stakeholder needs at the outset.

#2 Consider the circular economy and partnerships

Considering early-stage partnerships can help promote a cross-fertilization of ideas to nurture sustainability measures. Embrace the circular economy by assessing ways to repurpose project waste and reduce emissions, or replace traditional materials with sustainable versions to improve the project’s overall sustainability. Establishing a cluster of local industries that co-operate and work in partnership when developing industrial sites can help answer many stakeholder concerns. The ability to kick-start a circular economy also makes projects more attractive to local authorities who may not have the expertise to get sustainability strategies off the ground.

Considering early-stage partnerships can help promote a cross-fertilization of ideas to nurture sustainability measures.

Dr Martin Fritsch, Senior Consultant at Sofies

#3 Scale down and take small steps

The ability to scale up operations to fulfill land development projects within a given timeframe is often seen as a primary focus. Yet, the ability to scale down and collaborate at an individual or local level is equally important. It’s often the small steps taken to keep people informed and involved throughout the process that has the most significant and positive impact. Initially, mapping out stakeholder interests and concerns can help highlight areas of collaboration between the public and private sector and encourage realistic assumptions on what can be achieved in a particular timeframe. This helps ensure stakeholder engagement and confidence are kept high.

#4 Create a vision for all

Land use is something that impacts us in different ways. Understanding those differences can help develop a project that people can identify with, whether from a work, residential, leisure, or nature perspective. This is not just about providing a public forum to gauge reaction to plans; it’s about having a process that treats all stakeholder inputs equally, whether significant farming interests or the local scout troop. Using visualization techniques encourages stakeholders to connect and provide relevant inputs that help project leaders to capture a more comprehensive picture of needs and reach fair agreements and consensus on the way forward. Creating a vision that resonates with all stakeholders is increasingly essential.

Four Lessons to Learn:

In a changing world where environmental factors and the reduction of carbon emissions are vital, land development and management companies need to assess the factors that allow them to project a clear vision on working with stakeholders. Find out more

Martin Fritsch

Martin Fritsch

Senior Consultant