The ICES Workshop on Stakeholder Engagement Strategy (WKSHOES) met online 22-24 June 2021 with the objective to organize the background information needed for SCICOM and ACOM to develop a formal ICES Stakeholder Engagement Strategy.
Stakeholder engagement has taken an increasingly important role in ICES. There was a strong consensus in the workshop that stakeholder engagement is essential to ICES’ work, as has been captured by the most recent ICES Strategic, Science, and Advisory Plans. The question is how to do it best. While WKSHOES recognized the essential nature of stakeholder engagement for ad-dressing environmental challenges, understanding human impacts and values, the group dis-cussed the valid concern that if stakeholder engagement is done incorrectly, it could compromise the perceived objectivity of ICES science and its independence. Workshop participants chal-lenged the idea of objective or “pure” science, but also recognized the practical need to have ICES advice be transparent and science-based. Participants also understand that when providing advice, tradeoffs have to be made that are informed by the different weights that stakeholders place on various management objectives.
A key question related to a potential stakeholder engagement strategy is “Who is a stakeholder?” This report discusses several definitions and roles. A central challenge for ICES is recognizing that the network of stakeholders is a subset of the people impacted by ICES science and advice. The Stakeholder Engagement Strategy should therefore primarily focus on ensuring that people who are part of the ICES network have clear roles and responsibilities and that ICES performs its work fairly and transparently. However, participants also recognize the need to increase op-portunities for diverse resource users and citizens to have clear avenues to engage with the dif-ferent aspects of the ICES network. Considering and promoting diversity and inclusion and avoiding implicit bias are crucial in this process.
It is also essential to define clear goals for stakeholder engagement in general, and tangible ob-jectives for each engagement activity in particular. Engagement objectives already formulated in various ICES documents are outlined in this report, as well as recommendations for guiding principles that provide the overarching frame of reference for engagement.
This Report serves as the primary output from WKSHOES, and represents the knowledge and opinions of workshop participants. WKSHOES recommends that in order to both complete the development of the strategy and conduct successful stakeholder engagement about it, a suite of communication activities is needed that should best be coordinated from a central contact point within ICES. WKSHOES recommends that after ACOM and SCICOM draft the strategy and ob-tain input from the ICES Council, a diversity of stakeholders should be invited to provide input on the WKSHOES report and the development of the Engagement Strategy. ICES should solicit input from stakeholders by early 2022 to agree on the contents of the Strategy and how it will be implemented. WKSHOES also recommends that a future Expert Group address the ongoing need to develop and communicate effective stakeholder engagement methods within the ICES network.