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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Stakeholder Involvement in Indicator Selection: Case Studies and Levels of Participation


Division of Life Sciences, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey

Governmental agencies, Tribal Nations, scientists, managers, and the public are interested in assessing the health of ecosystems and their component parts, including humans. Assessing and monitoring human and ecosystem health requires the use of a suite of bioindicators that are biologically, methodologically, and societally relevant, and can be used effectively over time to assess trends and provide early warning. Often the latter consideration is ignored, or at best assumed. This paper examines the role of stakeholders in indicator selection specifically, and suggests that societal relevance should include participation and collaboration with a full range of Tribal Nations and stakeholders, as well as federal and state agencies. The inclusion of a full range of Tribal Nations and stakeholders can result in the development of bioindicators useful for ecosystem health assessment, human effects and interventions, human health assessment, evaluating the efficacy of remediation, and evaluating sustainability. In this paper a categorization of stakeholder involvement in indicator selection is presented, along with examples of the range of Tribal Nation and stakeholder involvement in the selection of bioindicators to highlight the importance of inclusion in information transfer, resolving conflicts, and developing a path forward for resolving contentious issues. The categories of Tribal Nations and stakeholder inclusion in bioindicator development and selection include informational (information provided to stakeholders), intragovernmental (collaboration among agencies), intragovernmental with inclusion of outside scientists, stakeholder involvement (stakeholders participate in some aspects), stakeholder-driven (stakeholders either identify the problem or influence strongly its definition), and stakeholder collaboration (where stakeholders make key contributions and participate in several phases of indicator development and selection). Examples are provided to illustrate each type, and the conclusion is drawn that increased involvement of stakeholders increases public support and acceptance of bioindicators used in long-term monitoring plans.

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