Ecological restoration projects are an essential part of achieving sustainable development goals. The success of these projects depends on involving various stakeholders and stakeholder management strategy. Best practice implementation and stakeholder management compliance with international standards opens up opportunities for additional financing and expanding the scope of ecosystem restoration projects.

To date, these projects are not dominant in sustainable development strategies due to their longevity and focus on biodiversity restoration. If we include the social component and determine how stakeholders benefit from project implementation, their prospects and relevance can significantly increase. The success of this approach was presented at training within the international conference SER 2019, held from September 22 to 28 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) is a global community of ecological restoration experts. It includes researchers, practicing scientists, decision makers, and community leaders from Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and America. SER members are actively involved in restoring degraded ecosystems, making a significant contribution to the planet’s ecosystem health. The organization becomes a platform for exchanging experience and networking between government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector in order to develop the science and practice of ecological restoration.

A training conducted by EthnoExpert CEO Igor Semenov and Sustainability Manager Daria Ryazantseva presented stakeholder management best practices in environmental restoration projects, as well as methods for building the social part in these projects. The six-hour training involved representatives of ministries of environmental protection, scientists and trainees from South Africa, Lesotho, Australia, the United States and Germany. Made in a form of a quest “King of Wetlands”, it was specially developed for this conference and included EthnoExpert’s experience in the PeatRus project aimed at restoring disturbed peatlands in Russia and the project for the ecological restoration of tundra peatlands on the Yamal Peninsula. The clarity of examples, the involvement of participants in game actions and the opportunity to independently build a strategy for interaction with stakeholders allowed participants to quickly master high-level stakeholder management skills.

The EthnoExpert team also took part in the business part of the conference, making presentations on the topics of partnership in ecological restoration projects and involving vulnerable groups in them. The presented experience of implementing projects in Russia made a significant contribution to the discussions on the need for stakeholder management in these projects and laid the future prospect of international cooperation in this basis.