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Collaborative planning is a conceptual framework for resolving complex, multi-stakeholder planning scenarios. This approach is often applied to planning cases for the purposes of encouraging public participation, and resolving and mediating stakeholder disagreements. While the literature notes challenges in evaluating collaborative planning, Day and Gunton (2003) suggest four common criteria to measure its effective use, including: (1) the ability to successfully reach agreement, (2) efficiency in the collaborative process, (3) stakeholder satisfaction in the planning outcome, and (4) achievement of social capital among stakeholders.
To outline collaborative planning in practice, the following phases and steps are provided by Day and Gunton (2003):
- Forming a planning team, identifying potential stakeholders, and assessing the conflict and possible resolutions.
- Determining stakeholder groups that will participate in the planning process and selecting representatives from each group involved
- Establishing formal rules, responsibilities, timelines, and logistics – which may be agreed upon through consultation with stakeholders
- Collecting and analyzing information to be presented subsequently at the planning table
- Discerning the interests of stakeholders and the range of planning options; creating subgroups to conduct joint fact finding when information is insufficient
- Clarifying and “packaging” options and encouraging negotiation through a central, guiding document; delegating more contentious issues to subgroups so that progress at the main stakeholder table is not hindered
- Formalizing a binding agreement between all parties and ensuring ratification of the agreement is completed by all organizations represented at the stakeholder table
- Accomplishing all approvals needed in order to begin implementing the agreement
- Evaluating implementation through a monitoring framework that account for changing and evolving conditions after planning is completed
Day, J. C., & Gunton, T. I. (2003). The theory and practice of collaborative planning in resource and environmental management. Environments, 31(2), 5.