Understanding Everyone Involved
Understanding who all is involved as stakeholders in every situation when it comes to environmental engagement is key. The incorporation of all perspectives creates the most efficient and inclusive form of engagement possible. When considering stakeholders, it’s important to consider all groups involved, not just the most obvious ones. Oftentimes, the most marginalized groups’ perspectives are left out because they aren’t the ones that are involved in direct action and decision making of such situations, yet they are continuously being negatively affected by these issues. It’s key to not only bring in stakeholders who are obvious in the involvement of an issue, but to make sure those who have differing perspectives are involved as well. This ensures a higher level of engagement because it brings in multiple outside perspectives which creates more insight into the issue at hand and allows for more potential solutions to arise. It’s important to take into account all perspectives because as we’ve seen in Global Warming’s Six Americas, there are many different views in the world that differ widely so it’s key to incorporate them all.
Failing to identify some stakeholders may introduce bias in the subsequent stages of the process,” (Luyet et al., pg. 214).
The process of determining the stakeholders for each environmental issue that arises can be an intricate one. Luyet et al. in “A framework to implement Stakeholder participation in environmental projects,” discusses the best process for determining stakeholders and getting them involved in the engagement process. One of the first steps involves stakeholder identification. According to Luyet et al., the choice of identification technique will vary between the different issues that are being focused on as well as the resources available and the phase that it is in. It’s important to include the integration of all stakeholders because “failing to identify some stakeholders may introduce bias in the subsequent stages of the process,” (Luyet et al., 2012).
The next step in the process includes stakeholder characterization. This process can be optional if the number of stakeholders is limited. Characterization is key in order to comprehend the power relations between the stakeholders and their specific interests in the issue at hand. The next step is stakeholder structuring and degree of involvement. This step is key in grouping the stakeholders together and assigning each group a different degree of involvement in the project. Lastly, Luyet et al. emphasizes that participatory techniques must be chosen specifically for the groups that are involved and then these techniques must be implemented for the individuals and groups involved in the engagement at hand. This will lead to the most effective form of engagement that will emphasize the importance of involving all parties that have a stake in the issue at hand which will benefit everyone in searching for and implementing a solution.
Who is Involved in Regards to PHCC
In order to understand how PHCC is able to get involved and make impacts for change, it’s important to understand who other stakeholders are, and who they interact with. First, PHCC is a stakeholder group regarding the Portland Harbor Superfund Site due to its strong interests in representing the population that it does: those at socio-economic disadvantages that have been disproportionately effected and under represented in the clean-up and recovery process. That being said, PHCC has made a strong point to build core partnerships with those stakeholders of similar agendas (see the Actor Network Map below for more details on these partnerships. This map is also featured in our article ‘Splashing in With The Coalition’). These other non-profits and groups helping to represent minorities and those at socio-economic disadvantages are all working towards similar goals in regards to the Portland Harbor Superfund Site (finding remediation methods that properly represent the interests and effects of these stakeholders). The focus among these stakeholders (and PHCC) is to fight for those being underrepresented, by representing them to the EPA and other deciding entities as proper stakeholders.
Actor-Network Map for PHCC, displaying core partners and other important connections and correlated entities.
Meanwhile, PHCC works less, if at all, with stakeholders from those of differing perspectives. The Port of Portland and those currently having to fund the clean-up (due to their roles in the creation and toxicity of the Site), have little to no relations with PHCC. While they are invested in the operation for opposite reasons, both stakeholders are involved in the Superfund Site for the synonymous reason of working towards a cleaned up Superfund Site. This is often misconstrued however, and lost among the how’s and why’s of involvement, rather than looking at the who and what. As Luyet mentions, such negligences, and possible biases, in choosing relations and acknowledgments of other stakeholders can prove tasking later on in trying to make truly impactful change. In order to fully grasp and successfully entertain the goals of PHCC, understanding the perspectives of all stakeholders, from core partners to ‘polluters’ to governing laws, is crucial.
Luyet, Vincent, Rodolphe Schlaepfer, Marc B. Parlange, and Alexandre Buttler. 2012. “A Framework to Implement Stakeholder Participation in Environmental Projects.” Journal of Environmental Management 111 (November): 213–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.06.026.