Written by futureofwaste

This article is part of our toolbox
“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

You have decided to work at reducing waste in your tourism/event organization? Welcome on board! Once the stakes of your local context (step 2) are clear to you, it’s time to engage with your external stakeholders such as suppliers, customers, local institutions, community and social entrepreneurs. How to communicate and collaborate with them ? Find a few tips below!


  • Anticipate new stakes that might arise and understand the priorities of your stakeholders (including your clients!)
  • Improve the acceptability of your project: by informing, listening and taking into account the interest of others, you will maximise your project’s success
  • Get useful tips and recommandations on the implementation of your project from people working on the topic/ground. Some solutions might have already been tried, lot’s to learn fro others
  • Gather different point of views and perspective, that will help your project be more complete
  • Develop synergy with other actors, you might even reduce the costs by mutualizing.
  • Improve the image of your organisation : show that you care

How to involve
external stakeholders?

Emphasize your will to progress toward better waste management: don’t be ashamed of not doing much so far, don’t boast about what you might already do. Instead reach out to your different stakeholders adding alongside specific requests for their perspective


Which stakeholders ?

Based on Step 2 – Understanding your local context, you should already have a good point of view of the main stakeholders.

As a reminder, the international standard providing guidance on social responsibility, ISO 26000, defines astakeholder as an “individual or group that has an interest in any decision or activity of an organization.”. They can be impacted by your decision or themselves influence the outcome of your project.

The objective is not necessarily to involve everyone, but rather the relevant person for the relevant actions. For example, you don’t need all the staff of the local authority to attend your workshop to create new communication tool for food prevention. Your clients and local NGOS might be more useful in this regard.

Here are some of your stakeholders which are in our opinion crutial to engage with.


Make sure you get feedbacks about the priorities of your clients, if there are a red line for them in term of waste management, and if they have suggestions. 

You could try to bring social media influencers which could themselves ask their followers their opinions. And can later on bring visibility to your structures.

Your neighbours

Your neighbours are often the most impacted by your waste management – good or bad. For example, if your clients smoke outside your establishment, the neighbour will enjoy the cigarette butt littering on the floor. 

Similarly some of your neighbours might be interested to mutualize resources for their waste strategy. For example if you have many restaurants in the same street and you organise all together with a waste operator, the cost of transport will be reduced, and in fine the price you pay as well..

Your suppliers and sub-contractors

It is crutial you inform your suppliers and sub-contractors of your environmental interest.

  • Check with them if they have more sustainable options in services and goods.
  • Explain to them what are your expectations. for example, that you don’t mind accepting seconds or ugly produces that often come cheaper.
  • Double check their practices: ask for certification and check environmental allegation as well as raw material used 
  • And for future partners, remember that the easiest way to ensure the sustainability of their practices, is to include it in the design briefs and contracts.

There are of course many other stakeholders, but as we don’t know your local context, you are the best placed to evaluate which ones are most relevants to engage with  ! 

  • Local authorities, experts, waste operators, tourism federations, environmental associations, entrepreneurs, media and influencers, local farmers, schools, artists of your festival, chamber of commerce … the list is long !
  • You could also ask the stakeholders with whom you are already in contact if they have recommendations on people you should absolutely consult or engage with

4 steps: inform, listen, discuss, adapt

Remember that to have a constructive dialogue with stakeholders, it is always best to explain them what are your objectives, and in what way what they might answer will be used.

Check the 7 rules of dialogue as stated by Comité 21 (in French) : 1. To have the mean to change ; 2. To take into account various point of view, even conflicted ones ; 3. To engage with relevant stakeholders and stakes ; 4.To engage every stakeholders by designating a facilitator (internal or external) ; 5. To respect the values of dialogue ; 6. To anchor your dialogue project in time ; To give feedback

1. Inform

Inform stakeholders of your key findings regarding your waste management, and what you have in mind, especially if that might concern them (e.g. starting to compost next door). Remember that stakeholders have different level of knowledge on the topics, try to be pedagogic about it.

2. Listen

Try to understand their interets, their needs or current practices, and how it relates to your project.

For example, the Hotel Kitchen surveyed their cliends regarding food waste at a breakfast buffet with dedicated communication signs. “Guests were happy to see the messaging, indicating it raised their awareness. They cautioned against “shaming” in the messaging. More than half of surveyed guests considered food waste to be a “big” problem and more than 70% were willing to submit food preferences or meal RSVPs if provided an incentive. Several expressed their expectation that hotels participate in food recovery programs”

3. Discuss

Be ready to discuss with stakeholders, answer their fears or misunderstandings, and even sometimes defend your projects when others are strongly against it.

This can take time and doesn’t have to be done at once. You can meet ponctually or regularly, you might even formalize it by creating a structure such as a Committee for people to meet regularly and discuss the challenge that might come ahead.

4. Adapt

  • Can you find synergies with the other actors ? Are their project linked with yours in some ways ?
  • If some of your practice raise concerns, can you change it ?
  • Are there new ideas that have emerged that could be iinteresting to develop ?

Their feedbacks should help you determine your next priorities in step 5 !

Activities to engage and dialogue with stakeholders

  • In stakeholder dialogue, there are different level of engagement, naturally impacting the tools for interactions.
  • Think in term of time frame: do you want to keep them engaged or informed on the long term ? is it a one day shoot or a long-term dialogue? …
  • Organize a dialogue based on the objective of the meeting (inform, engage, braintorm…) and the type of audience you’re targeting. For example: a business lunch/breakfast for officials/professionals, an informal drink/visit for customers.

> Non-exhaustive examples of dialogue activities, based on the degree of engagement and openness*:

  • Information providing :article on your website or social media, publicity, printed media, leaflet, conference, annual report, door to door…
  • Consultation: questionnaires, focus group, expert panels, surveys, opinion polls, interviews, materiality analysis, interactive workshop, ….
  • Concertation: pluri-actor panels, dedicated Committee…
  • Negociation:  bargaining, mediation, resolution of conflicts
  • Co-creation: common projects, partnerships
  • Co-management: external stakeholder into the board of director or planning team

* sources include Comité 21, Harris, GIZ, UNEP

Example: The Isles of Scilly, designated as “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has become gradually more touristic, with over 130 000 visitors a year . As it impact the sensitive landscapes, a dialogue project was initiated: “Making the Most of the Islands”. Check this report explaining the different steps.

And check our step 6 on how to organise a collaborative workshop !

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Thanks to all our authors and co-authors, as well as our experts and proofreaders, who contributed to improve the content or our articles. Like the entire toolbox, this article has been created collaboratively with :

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