Guide to catalyse participation in decision-making

Adults and children looking at sunset

The Ingredients Tool is a practical resource for marine managers, and others, to support broad participation in marine decision-making. It can be adapted to suit local circumstances and priorities.

“Once you have decided to begin a participatory initiative, it’s hard to know where, or how to start,” says Paula Blackett, who led the Participatory processes project.

“The bad news is that there’s no failsafe ‘recipe’ that can be applied to every situation and will work for every iwi and hapū, government agency, community group and business with an interest in a particular marine ecosystem. But the good news is that we have identified ‘ingredients’ that can help build consensus and reduce conflict.”

About the Ingredients Tool

This single-page resource is a practical guide that can be used to structure discussions, determine agreed goals and encourage deep conversations about challenging issues.

“Anyone can use the Ingredients Tool, from marine managers through to a member of a community wanting to set up a local beach care group – it’s for people doing the doing,” Paula says.

The ingredients – questions grouped into themes – were identified by examining case studies of participatory initiatives that had taken place across Aotearoa.

The themes and questions help people to think about their own circumstances and prompt them to consider the actions they can take that suit their situation, location and community.  Each question will remain relevant throughout the life of the initiative, but the answers may vary over time as things change.   

Ingredients Tool 

How to use the tool

  • Any question can be the start point – There is no particular order in which to ask the questions, it depends on the context: where you are, who is present and what the issue is.
  • There are no right or wrong answers – Discussion, rather than the specific answers, help determine agreed goals.
  • Adapt to the circumstances – Some questions will be of greater or lesser importance depending on the local situation.

If you have feedback you’d like to share about how the tool did/didn’t work for you, please send it to sustainableseasNC@niwa.co.nz – we would love to receive it.

Journal article

Le Heron E et al (2019). It's not a recipe... but there are ingredients. Navigating negotiated changes through participatory processes in marine spaces. Planning Quarterly 213, 32-37 (subscription required)

Date posted: 14/02/2020

Programme type: Our Seas

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