Every year, Swiss municipalities implement countless environmental and infrastructure projects, for example in waste water management, flood protection or water revitalisation. Interest is often great, as is also the number of people and groups who want or need to have a say. However, it is not always easy to identify and involve all important stakeholders at an early stage. Particularly small and medium-sized municipalities often do not have the time and resources to plan a participatory process in a professional manner. Furthermore, if the process has been insufficiently prepared, it can lead to objections or complaints, especially in the case of conflict-prone projects. Projects then become time-consuming and costly.
Critical voices should also be recognised and involved in good time
In order to support the municipalities in their work, researchers from the Eawag Water Research Institute and the University of Bern, together with the practice partner Water Excellence AG have developed the digital tool PlaNet. PlaNet guides users through seven steps in which various questions about the project and the stakeholders involved must be answered. Based on the information provided, the tool systematically identifies all important project partners as well as critical voices and allows a clear assessment of their importance and role.
As a result, PlaNet presents the network of all stakeholders and their requirements in a clear graphical form. The simple visualisation is intended to systematise and simplify the participatory process that helps municipalities, thereby saving time and resources. Previous users of PlaNet have found the digital tool to be helpful in thinking about the opinions and possible objections of a wide range of stakeholders during the planning of a project.
The new tool is available free of charge at planet.eawag.ch and is presented in the article “PlaNet – A digital tool for municipalities” in the new issue of "Aqua und Gas".