Whether the NFP is planning to implement CMS and its instruments by integrating implementation planning into existing national implementation tools (such as NBSAPs, Wildlife Acts, etc.), is aiming for a separate national implementation plan, or plans to use both approaches, developing a national consultation process is an indispensable step towards planning the implementation of CMS and its instruments at the national level. Broad consultation with all relevant societal stakeholders throughout the implementation cycle will significantly improve the results by making the planning more efficient, transparent and inclusive. Broad consultation will also help to generate the buy-in and support from the stakeholders which is necessary for subsequent implementation.

Such a national coordination mechanism could either be set up independently for addressing issues relating to the implementation of CMS and/or its instruments or could be mainstreamed into existing relevant National Coordination mechanisms as appropriate (such as NBSAPs national committees, National Ramsar Committees, etc.).

Planning and managing this consultation process, and setting its agenda is the responsibility of the NFP. This is not an easy feat. A first key step is to identify the relevant stakeholders and to bring them together. Stakeholders may include technical or scientific experts, policy-makers from other government bodies (e.g. ministries of planning, agriculture, transport or finance), NGOs, representatives of the private sector, representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities, or NFPs of other relevant multilateral environmental agreements such as the CBD, CITES, the Ramsar Convention and the World Heritage Convention.

What the NFP should aim for is a small, representative and inclusive group of stakeholders willing to form part of a core working group for the planning exercise and subsequent implementation process. In addition, it might be necessary to engage a wider range of participants in a broader process – including for example people or institutions who prefer to be consulted during other phases but not involved at the stage of organizing or drafting. This larger set of stakeholders may be engaged e.g. through public hearings or the use of (online) surveys or social media.

For the consultation process to be successful, it will be of key importance that all stakeholders can participate fully and effectively. This means that the NFP will need to ensure clear and transparent communication and flow of information among all. To achieve this NFP may want to consider using government notifications, open letters to stakeholder groups, information kits, requests for written submissions etc.

At the centre of the consultation will be an iterative series of workshops, fora, seminars and meetings or exchanges of correspondence of the core working group depending on the resources available. These communication tools will serve to exchange information and opinions among stakeholders. In addition, the group should develop and discuss drafts of the national planning document. Throughout these exchanges it is important to maintain an atmosphere that keeps participants motivated so that they contribute actively to the discussions, provide information, seek solutions, and remain open to dialogue. Such an atmosphere will create ownership among the stakeholders and motivate them to follow through to implementation of the plans.