Assignment Stakeholders are any individuals or groups that are affected by an environmental decision or issue. Environmental decisions may include official policies or regulations, as well as less formal decisions that impact other groups and individuals. Official environmental decisions are made by decision-makers, commonly government officials, scientists, and other prominent figures. How or even if stakeholders are incorporated in the decision-making process varies. In some cases, stakeholders are given the opportunity to express their opinions and vote in the final decision. Sometimes, the stakeholders give feedback on the available options, but they do not get to vote on the decision. These opportunities may be called a “comment period” where constituents and affected individuals can comment on a situation. In recent years, citizens have been able to comment on the status of national monuments, FCC regulations (net neutrality), and mpg requirements for car manufacturers.
In some cases, stakeholders are not involved in the process at all. This usually happens when restrictions exist, such as legal or financial regulations, that reduce flexibility. Arguably, it’s better to not include stakeholders at all than to include them but ignore their opinions, which is a scenario that may happen in “comment periods” where government agencies are required to receive public feedback but not required to listen to them. Despite this potential outcome, I encourage you to share your opinion if such issues interest you. There are many cases where public opinion has reversed original plans. Commenting only takes 1-2 minutes of your time, but it can be a part of larger impacts! When stakeholders are included, the decision-making process can substantially benefit from their presence. Stakeholders may provide previously unknown information or design creative solutions that satisfy multiple groups. When stakeholders play an active role, they may be more accepting of compromise, as well as be more compliant with the final decision. Leaving out stakeholder groups not only causes distrust and unhappiness among groups it also reduces creativity and the opportunity to build trust and understanding
Scenario #1 The regional Environmental Protection Agency office wants to set new pesticide restrictions to protect the local watershed. The following stakeholders will be invited to the meeting to discuss the idea before an official proposal is written. Local governmental agencies Environmental and other related nonprofits Local farmer’s union Owner’s of industrialized farms Smaller farmers Lawncare companies Local residents Grocery store CEOs
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