According to the United Nations DESA and ITAR groups, the “multi-stakeholder nature of the 2030 Agenda demands an enabling environment for participation by all, as well as new ways of working in partnerships to mobilize and share knowledge”. Stakeholders, including citizens, and their engagement have never been more important in an increasingly interconnected world, facing complex societal problems, just transitions, inequality and sustainability challenges.
In support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, one significant issue impeding the acceleration of pace for change is the degree of multi-stakeholder active engagement. Engagement is more than communication. It embraces active participation in both problem definition and solution generation. Literature to date is extremely limited in its approach on how to systematically identify and encourage stakeholder engagement. In response, work from the EU Horizon 2020 project Sea Change, a pan European study designed to bring about a fundamental shift in the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea, set about designing and testing protocols for stakeholder engagement, drawing upon management, behavioural and implementation sciences.