Case Study - Key Influencers and Their Impact
Identifying and involving influential stakeholders can facilitate the flow of knowledge out of and into your research programme. Professor Dan Laffoley, Chair of the International Ocean Acidification Reference User Group, summarises how a European royal connection is helping scientists to address the potentially serious threats posed by ocean acidification.
As ocean acidification is a relatively young field of study, the research community is to an extent playing catch-up in promoting awareness of this major issue and building bridges with policy-makers, industry and the public. But without these bridges in place, key messages coming out of the research won’t have the desired impact, nor will programmes be sufficiently responsive to real-world requirements.
Having the issue championed by Prince Albert II of Monaco, a globally recognisable figure, has helped to achieve substantial progress in stakeholder engagement and awareness worldwide.
His involvement doesn’t just present fantastic opportunities to capture media attention. It also makes it easier to bring on board other stakeholders who can potentially contribute vital input to both the thrust and the take-up of ocean acidification research.
It’s a great example of pinpointing an individual who can act as a catalyst for KE between researchers and stakeholders.
We knew Prince Albert already had a keen, proactive interest in ocean acidification – in 2008, for instance, he hosted a symposium on the topic in Monaco. He was very receptive when we made our initial approach to discuss the possibility of him supporting the Reference User Group, which in turn helps to support a whole range of national and international ocean acidification research initiatives.
The Prince has already attended one of the Group’s Annual Meetings and appeared on an awareness-raising DVD produced by the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme, reinforcing his status as a real ‘champion’ of greater understanding of the issue. This raises the profile to the benefit of sea users and those dependent on the ocean throughout the world.
But even with stakeholders who aren’t household names, it makes sense to identify individuals most likely to be listened to by their industry or community.
Working with them will make it much easier to disseminate research findings effectively and create a conduit through which views and needs can be fed into your programme.
Every stakeholder we engage with is valued. But it really has proved an excellent investment of time for us to pinpoint who exactly in the shellfish industry and insurance sector, for example, has the position and the profile to add weight and momentum to our KE activities.