AquaticPollutantsTransNet stakeholder “tools” for the research projects

One of the goals of AquaticPollutantsTransNet (TransNet) is to connect researchers with end-users who can use their innovations. Achieving this connection requires the identification of various stakeholders in the field of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs), Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) and pathogens in aquatic environments. To help the 18 funded AquaticPollutants research projects identify relevant actors, TransNet developed a Stakeholder Identification Guideline, which outlines an iterative process combining internet search with key words, analysis of participation in various professional events or memberships in important networks in the field. Identification is focused on institutions, but it is also interesting to identify specific people in order to contact them for interviews: indeed, some professionals have worked or are working in several organisations. Their knowledge of the field, and the relations between stakeholders, is then particularly sharp.

At this stage, the information collected can be organised in a stakeholder directory created by TransNet. In this directory, created with Microsoft Excel, the identified stakeholder organisations and the associated contact persons are added, and their fields of expertise and roles along the pollutant’s life cycle can be identified.

Once actors are identified, the second step is to characterize the links between them in order to understand the overall dynamics of the sector. This step leads to the mapping of the (more or less official) networks of stakeholders involved with issues relating to CECs, AMR and pathogens. TransNet proposes to distinguish different roles: pollutant emitters, problem owners, actors in charge of risk characterization and assessment, solution designers, solution providers. The mapping stage is based on this typology, structuring the visual stakeholder map according to the pollutants' life cycle. This work can be done at several scales, and TransNet partners started by mapping stakeholders at the national level. Here is an example of the kind of map that can be created (example from France):

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Example of a stakeholder map, showing French stakeholders active in the fields of CECs, AMR and pathogens.

By using the map, one can identify existing stakeholders and their respective roles, but also existing networks that bring together these stakeholders. Above all, the map shows the “gaps” in the network: the actors that are missing from the existing exchange spaces. In the French example, few solution designers or providers were identified to tackle AMR issues and pathogens in aquatic environments.

TransNet used these tools to identify relevant stakeholders at the national level in France, Germany and Sweden. We are currently conducting interviews with a selection of these stakeholders in order to identify knowledge gaps on CECs, AMR and pathogens from the stakeholders’ points of view. These interviews and subsequent analysis will help us to pinpoint the main barriers to knowledge transfer from the research projects to end-users: Is there a lack of research and data? Are there difficulties in accessing and interpreting available data? Are existing channels to disseminate results and information insufficient? These are some of the questions we aim to answer and subsequently address in collaboration with the 18 funded research projects.