Each stakeholder group in a landscape comes to the LP with a different perspective, based on their own experience, values, priorities and expertise. Before they begin to negotiate, agree and act on collaborative landscape management plans, they require sufficient knowledge and information about the landscape as a whole to make informed decisions. The partners need to have a broadly agreed evidence base. While ‘experts’ can make valuable contributions, external analyses rarely provide a sufficient foundation to achieve such agreement. Rather, the partners themselves need to jointly generate, analyze and evaluate the information collected, from their different perspectives, usually with help from a neutral facilitator during a longer period of time and using a clear co-creation process (e.g. Theory U).
Shared understanding means that stakeholders understand the geography of the landscape–not only what is happening, but also why. They need to consider trajectories of change into the future. They also need to gain insight into the interests, needs and capacities of other stakeholders. In the process they may begin to perceive new ways of managing resources that could generate synergies and reduce tradeoffs.