CONCUR led a Stakeholder Engagement Support Project in 2017 to support implementation of the American Samoa Ocean Planning Process. American Samoa is currently leading the way in the US Pacific Islands in developing the first jurisdictional ocean plan. The American Samoa Ocean Planning Team (Planning Team), including representatives from American Samoan and federal agencies responsible for different sectors active in marine resources management including commerce, fisheries, environmental quality, and planning, was created to develop the American Samoa Ocean Plan (Ocean Plan) for the territory. CONCUR’s role in the project was funded through a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and managed by the Udall Foundation’s U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR).

The Stakeholder Engagement Support Project was commissioned to conduct an in-depth assessment of stakeholder interests in ocean planning issues in American Samoa, and enable the Ocean Planning process to more effectively consider the views, interests, concerns, and recommendations of the full range of parties impacted by ocean planning. The CONCUR consulting team interviewed a broad range of stakeholders, including current Planning Team members, village leaders on Tutuila and the Manu’a Islands, and a range of other people with interests in ocean planning.

The Stakeholder Engagement Support Project included the following objectives:

  1. Identify overarching stakeholder engagement goals and objectives
  2. Uncover potential opportunities and barriers for successful stakeholder engagement
  3. Explore stakeholder perspectives about the Ocean Planning process
  4. Develop a stakeholder engagement action plan to successfully engage stakeholders with respect to the Planning Team’s ocean planning process goals and objectives

The CONCUR team–including Principal Scott McCreary, and CONCUR Associate Meredith Cowart teaming with Hawaii-based colleague Keith Mattson–conducted a series of group and individual meetings with key leaders and informants, and 36 structured group and individual interviews. Interview findings and a set of recommendations to help the Planning more effectively engage government agencies and community leaders in the Ocean Planning process were captured in the final report, available here. A Samoan translation of the Executive Summary is available here.

The final step in the project is to develop a Lessons Learned report, aimed at leveraging findings and first-hand experience from the American Samoa Stakeholder Engagement Support Project to support a stakeholder assessment and engagement in other jurisdictions (Guam, Mariana Islands, and Hawaii) in the Pacific Islands.