Stakeholder participation is increasingly seen as central in natural resource management. It is also required bythe European Union Water Framework Directive, which identifies three levels of participation; information, consultation, andactive involvement. In this paper we discuss the active involvement of stakeholders, using our experience from a case study inthe Himmerfjärden region, which is a coastal area southwest of Stockholm, Sweden. Our study used the systems approachproposed by the European Union research project called Science and Policy Integration for Coastal System Assessment(SPICOSA), in which local stakeholders and a study site team constructed an integrated simulation model of a crucial coastalmanagement issue. In this case the issue was nitrogen enrichment. We showed how stakeholder participation in the modelingprocess helped identify interesting and currently relevant management scenarios, and how the modeling process facilitatedcommunication of the likely ecological, economic, and social effects of these scenarios to the stakeholders. In addition,stakeholders also reported social gains in terms of network building. We managed to actively involve local stakeholders in waterissues, and the research process clearly strengthened the social capital in the Himmerfjärden region, and created a basis forfuture collaboration regarding water management. Our experience indicates that the approach we tried is a useful tool forpromoting active stakeholder involvement in water management projects. Also, the results of our science and policy integrationapproach indicated that the study site team assumed a leadership role, which is a commonly recognized factor in successfulnatural resource management.
2011. Vol. 16, no 4