This rapid review of the literature identifies a number of best practices for engaging with a range of stakeholders in contexts where trans-boundary infrastructure investment occurs. It outlines general guidelines and best practices identified by internationally recognised bodies, and presents specific evidence from the sectors of water infrastructure and energy (e.g. dams/hydro).
Trans-boundary or cross-border infrastructure is understood to be that which connects two or more countries as well as national infrastructure that has a significant cross-border impact (Bhattacharya, 2010). In terms of infrastructure projects, stakeholders could be governments or communities including those directly or indirectly affected by the project. A challenge posed by trans-boundary infrastructure investment projects is how to develop mechanisms that promote the participation of a broad cross-section of interests in resource planning and management decisions.
Key findings of the report include:
- Building relationships with a range of stakeholders should be an integral part of infrastructure projects and can contribute to building an understanding of the local context and minimising risks and maximising opportunities to create and protect value for the project and local communities.
- There are number of best practice and how-to guides which codify lessons for stakeholder engagement in a number of sectors, settings and contexts, and these provide useful guidance on the prerequisites for good stakeholder engagement including the need to ground engagement in a thorough contextual analysis that is conducted early in the project, with adequate resources and in collaboration with a range of stakeholders.
- Stakeholder engagement needs to be grounded in legislation that ensures that a set of minimum requirements are met, including participation, the release of information, time allocated for public comment, and how stakeholder input will be used.
- Stakeholder engagement in hydro/electric infrastructure development is particularly challenging. This is accentuated in instances where investment may have trans-boundary impacts. The establishment of initiatives, committees and communities of practice that operate in a trans-boundary manner can help manage expectations, mitigate conflict and demonstrate the benefits of co-operative water resource development to its member states and affected communities.