Stakeholder groups often include young people, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), local authorities, scientists and technical experts, trade unions, farmers, business and industry, indigenous people, and women. These are the nine categories of key stakeholders and civil society groups listed for Agenda 21.
In general, the importance of stakeholders in securing legitimacy of the process increases as the complexity of the studied issue increases, to the point where conclusions cannot be reached by scientific facts alone, and some value-based judgment is needed. Fun-towitz et al. (1999) write that the guiding principle must ensure quality in the process (more than in the end product). The traditional process of scientific researchers engaging in dialogue with peer researchers must be replaced by a broader recognition of multiple values and multiple truths, where dialogue with all stakeholders becomes the norm. Managing such a participative process can be difficult, and for indicators the participatory process may vary widely from one case to another. Finding relevant indicators for water sanitation, for instance (once it is agreed, through a broader participatory process, that water sanitation must be included), is a topic in which inputs from experts is likely to be needed.
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