Applying stakeholder Delphi techniques for planning sustainable use of aquatic resources: experiences from upland China, India and Vietnam

Søren Lund, Gary Thomas Banta, Stuart W Bunting

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The HighARCS (Highland Aquatic Resources Conservation and Sustainable Development) project was a participatory research effort to map and better understand the patterns of resource use and livelihoods of communities who utilize highland aquatic resources in five sites across China, India and Vietnam. The purpose of this paper is to give an account of how the stakeholder Delphi method was adapted and applied to support the participatory integrated action planning for sustainable use of aquatic resources facilitated within the HighARCS project. An account of the steps taken and results recorded is given for each of the five sites. Methodological challenges are discussed. It is illustrated how the method provides systematic opportunities for systematically pursuing joint interaction with all concerned stakeholders in an iterative fashion, compatible with a joint learning approach to action planning. It was found that the tool was not as effective as expected in creating stakeholder consensus where issues had already been the object of previous research and discussions with local stakeholders or where asymmetrical power relations between stakeholder groups constrained the reliability of responses given by stakeholder Delphi panel members. But the HighARCS experience suggests that the Stakeholder Delphi remains useful as a decision-making device for the selection of appropriate action when applied in combination with action plan feasibility assessment tools. The application of the stakeholder Delphi requires the presence of multidisciplinary and facilitating skills and competences within the implementing teams which should be considered before deciding to include a Stakeholder Delphi as a decision-making tool
Translated title of the contributionStakeholder Delphi som konsensus og evalueringsværktøj til integreret aktionsplanlægning og 'wise use' af vandmiljøet: erfaringer fra højlandsområder i Kina, Indien og Vietnam
Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability of Water Quality and Ecology
Pages (from-to)14-24
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2015


  • Stakeholder Delphi Technique
  • integrated action planning
  • biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods
  • assessment of wetlands and aquatic resources
  • consensus-making tools for action planning

Cite this