ACTIVITY 1.4: Plan stakeholder and citizen involvement


By Ash Oyofo / Updated: 28 Nov 2019


A transition towards sustainable mobilityinfo-icon requires active support from stakeholders and the wider public. Working with stakeholders is generally considered common practice – but often only certain groups actually have a say in the planning. It is crucial to involve all relevant stakeholders throughout the planning process, addressing their specific requirements. This helps to legitimise the SUMP and enhance its quality. Only a Sustainable Urban Mobility Planinfo-icon that was developed in cooperation with important stakeholders and the public will be accepted and effective in practical and financial terms. The involvement of citizens and stakeholders is, therefore, a fundamental element of a SUMP.

A dedicated strategyinfo-icon is needed for the involvement of stakeholders, drawing on different formats and techniques when dealing with authorities, private businesses, civil society organisations, or all of them together. Public involvement is fundamental to ensure the legitimacy and quality of decision making and is also required by EU and international conventions.



  • Ensure a well-structured involvement of all relevant stakeholders throughout key stages of the planning process.

  • Create a transparent dialogue-based planning culture that is based on regular communication and consultationinfo-icon.

  • Encourage and enable citizens to get engaged and to join the debate, in particular in the early planning phases when processes are still open and flexible.

  • Design sustainable and supported approaches for the involvement process that aim to improve the quality of lifeinfo-icon for residents, and create broad public ownershipinfo-icon of the planning process.

  • Strengthen the vitality of civil society and local political culture.

  • Improve the overall quality, effectiveness, (cost) efficiency, transparencyinfo-icon, acceptance and legitimacy of Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning.


What are ‘Citizens’ and ‘Stakeholders’?

Citizens refers to all people living and/or working in the functional urban area for which your SUMP is being prepared. In this document, it is used largely interchangeably with the terms people, residents and the public.

Stakeholders are all individuals, groups or organisations affected by and/or being able to affect the SUMP. While citizens are a part of this, in this document the term stakeholders mainly refers to institutional stakeholders, such as public authorities, political parties, citizeninfo-icon and community groupsinfo-icon, business organisations, transport operators and research institutions.

Key stakeholders are usually more closely involved in the SUMP process than the general public. Therefore it needs to be ensured that the interests of all affected parts of society, including typically underrepresented ‘hard to reach’ groups, are properly represented amongst the involved stakeholderinfo-icon groups.



  • Establish involvement activities as part of standard planning practices. Identify the planning steps in which stakeholders and citizens will be involved (see recommendations in Figure 13 (below) about citizen involvement during the SUMP process), and the participationinfo-icon methods suitable to each of them (see Figure 14 on methods and tools for engagementinfo-icon). Review both in-person and online engagement tools and select the most useful ones.

  • Set up a permanent ‘steering group’ consisting of important politicians and other key stakeholders. This group provides guidance and input on strategic decisions throughout the entire planning process. Use the stakeholder mapping conducted in Activity 1.3 to define which stakeholders to include. Regularly involve the ‘steering group’ in meetings or briefings and ask for feedback to set the framework for key decisions.

  • Develop a communication and engagement strategy and timeline, including an overall strategy for PR activities (such as media involvement).

  • Strive for as much interactive involvement as possible (see the section below; ‘Activities beyond essential requirements’) but include in your strategy at least proactive information to the public (i.e. you approaching the people and not the other way round).

  • Make sure to engage all affected parts of society, which includes people with disabilities, young people and the elderly, ethnic minorities, less affluent people, single parents, and other typically underrepresented ‘hard to reach’ groups. Don’t just regard them as beneficiaries but involve them in the planning process. Be careful of lobby groups that can block the process.

  • Plan for news releases to communicate that a new SUMP will be developed and that all groups of citizens and stakeholders have the opportunity to get involved. Consider using a combination of tools, including conventional formats such as print advertising in newspapers, website announcements, newsletters, or household letters, but also newer formats such as social media, short videos, a drop-in centre or a dedicated website. See Figure 14 (below) for more information.


Activities beyond essential requirements

  • Plan to involve stakeholders and citizens more actively with a wider range of participation tools throughout the whole process (e.g. study tours, stakeholder events, an internet forum, citizen panels).

  • Widen the scope of stakeholder involvement to more groups, including interest and lobby groups (but make sure that critical discussions are well moderated).

  • Ensure maximum transparency and enable more democratic, participatory decision making throughout the planning process (Aarhus convention).

  • For advanced cities: Involve stakeholders actively in decision making and managing SUMP development.


Details on the tasks

Questions to be addressed by an engagement strategy
There are four main questions about the process that need to be considered when preparing an engagement strategy.

  • Why? Why is the engagement process being undertaken? How will it influence the strategy/scheme?

  • Who? Who should be involved in the decision-making process? How can such people be identified?

  • How? How will engagement be undertaken? What tools and techniques should be used?

  • When? When should different activities take place? When is it not appropriate to engage?


Timing and coordination

  • Finish planning the main involvement activities before initiating the planning process.

  • Set up the ‘steering group’ of politicians and other key stakeholders together with the (newly established) core group (see Activity 1.2), taking into account the planning requirements and geographic scope of your SUMP (see Activity 2.1).

  • Involve stakeholders throughout the entire planning process.

  • Make sure to involve citizens in important decisions of selected steps. Citizen engagement might be more successful when done well in selected activities instead of trying to involve them in too many activities and thereby risking participation fatigue. The figure below recommends useful steps for citizen engagement.

Figure 13: Citizen involvement in the SUMP process

Citizen involvement in the SUMP process - do it right!

Citizen involvement should take place throughout the SUMP cycle, but not in each of the 12 steps. Figure 13 recommends where to put the emphasis. It suggests steps and activities during which important decisions need to be taken and the planning process would benefit from the ideas, visions and commitment of local residents.

It pays off to involve citizens from the start. Already when the decision to prepare a SUMP is taken, they can be informed and a group of interested citizens mobilised. But the four most important planning steps for citizen involvement are the discussion of scenarios (Activity 4.2), development of visions (Activity 5.1), selection and validation of measureinfo-icon packages (Activity 7.2) and implementation (Activity 11.2). In addition, your SUMP benefits from involving citizens when carrying out the problem analysis of the mobility situation (Activity 3.2), ensuring wide public support for the planned actions (Activity 8.4), and when evaluating successes and failures (see Activity 12.1).

Next to these activities, the milestones are a good point of time to communicate the results of the completed phase to the public. Especially the third milestone offers an opportunity to validate the strategic direction with citizens, and the fourth milestone benefits from celebrating the adoption of the SUMP with citizens. Whenever you plan events or other methods for citizen engagement, be aware of these few rules:

  • Be creative but also self-critical about suggested tools and formats of engagement. For example, apps and online surveys might not reach all targetinfo-icon groups (e.g. elderly people, people without access to a computer). Therefore always provide an offline format in addition to an online one.

  • It is crucial to communicate how the results of citizen engagement are used for the process, emphasising that they will not just disappear in a drawer. Promise the participants that every contribution will be considered and give feedback if something is taken into account for the SUMP.

  • Think about the language. You might exclude people from a migrant background if you only use the local language. Be careful not to use technical jargon.

  • For any public meeting chose the location carefully and make sure it is easily accessible, barrierinfo-icon-free, reachable by public transport and it provides appropriate equipment as well as a well-lit room with good acoustics. Plan the seating arrangements and be aware of different concepts of seating that do not imply power hierarchies.

  • Be considerate of people’s different time schedules and set up your event preferably for the evening. An afternoon event could exclude employees, while evening events can be difficult for parents.

  • Ensure a professional and respectful moderation.



✔ Timing, methods and involved citizen groups identified and decided.
✔ The involvement and communication approach finalised.
✔ A steering group with key stakeholders set up.

Figure 14: Recommended involvement tools and methods for SUMP development (important ones marked in bold), based on the four SUMP phases and classified after the level of engagement (from the lowest level of engagement “Inform”, to “Consult”, “Collaborate” and the highest level “Empower”)


Practice examples of citizen and stakeholder involvement in the SUMP process

The cities of Budapest, Ghent, Dresden and Bremen have developed individual approaches to integrate citizen involvement into the SUMP process - depending on their local context, planning expertise, resources and capacities. Blended formats were applied (e.g. Budapest, Ghent) as well as separate but concurrent engagement of stakeholders and citizens (e.g. Bremen, Ghent) and phased engagement (Dresden). Please note that this figure presents selected case examples to show the wide variety of possible approaches. There are, of course, various other ways to involve stakeholders and citizens, depending on the individual planning context of the city.

Figure 15: Practice examples of involving citizens and stakeholders into the SUMP process, Rupprecht Consult, 2016 (based on Lindenau, M., Böhler-Baedeker, S., 2016. CH4LLENGE Participation Manual: Actively engaging citizens and stakeholders in the development of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans, p. 17,

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Citizen engagement strategy combining traditional and online formats

The City of Brno developed a SUMP engagement strategy in cooperation with a consultancy specialised in communication and participation that helped the city to conduct a professional and meaningful participation process. The strategy included traditional methods, such as public discussions, round tables, and communication through a dedicated website, but also new approaches such as the ‘Brno Mobility – 2050 Vision – Experts Workshop’. In the engagement process from 2015 to 2018, more than 2500 comments from citizens were analysed, more than 500 people were involved in about 30 events, and several workshops with citizens, experts, city districts and municipalities, as well as politicians were organised.

Author: Iva Rorečková (Machalová) and Lukáš Bača, City of Brno, collected by EUROCITIES


Comprehensive engagement achieving broad ownership of the SUMP

The first step of Vilnius’ SUMP process was to prepare a roadmap for project management that identified strategies on how to work with relevant stakeholders and citizens. Four clear aims were defined: clarify expectations; inform about the process constantly; reach specific target groups, and organize awareness raising events. Vilnius collaborated with behavioural scientists and sociologists to identify the most effective ways of communicating with different target groups (politicians, stakeholders, citizens). A dedicated person coordinating the activities, sufficient budget, clear objectives and KPIs helped to run a successful campaign and raise discussion on the SUMP among local community, media and politicians.

Author: Kristina Gaučė, collected by UBC