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Health and Stakeholder Citizenship

Report on Workshop, 2 - 3 February 2002

Compiled by Gordon Baker, Stakeholder Forum

Workshop hosted by
Stakeholder Forum for Our Common Future; Novartis International AG; Novo Nordisk A/S; Society for Participatory Research in Asia; World Information Transfer
at BP Amoco plc Conference Facilities, New York



A. Context of the Workshop

B. Outcomes

C. Follow-Up

D. Sessions Report

Annex: Workshop Participants


A. Context of the workshop

Corporations, NGOs, intergovernmental bodies and others have been developing innovative strategies to tackle urgent issues such as equitable access to health and to other basic needs; increasing transparency and accountability of their operations; and developing partnerships amongst themselves. However, many of these efforts fail to be replicated, many problems remain unsolved, and there is no coherent framework of 'stakeholder citizenship'.

Ten years after the Rio Earth Summit, the World Summit on Sustainable Development will take place in Johannesburg in August/September 2002 (referred to below as “Earth Summit 2002”). Many stakeholders are seeking to engage in exchange and learn from their respective experiences of the challenges of sustainable development. They are also seeking to identify more clearly their roles and options within sustainable development and to become more pro-active in addressing emerging and possibly contentious issues.

Governments and intergovernmental bodies are preparing the agenda of Earth Summit 2002; with 'public health' and HIV/AIDS among the suggested topics. WHO is developing an outline of its specific contributions, which achieved greater focus in a conference on health and sustainable development in Johannesburg in January 2002 (producing the ‘Johannesburg Declaration’).

The 2-3 February workshop, organised by a group of partner organisations, brought together representatives of corporations, NGOs, intergovernmental bodies and other stakeholder groups. The meeting focused on participants sharing their understanding of key issues and necessary action in the health sector, and key mechanisms of stakeholder responsibility / transparency / accountability. The outcomes identified in this paper form the basis of a working document that will feed into preparations for Stakeholder Forum's "Stakeholder Action for Our Common Future" (Implementation Conference), and into the official Summit preparatory process.

The vision of the Implementation Conference project, as well as of this workshop, is to contribute to all stakeholders playing their roles in making sustainable development a reality.

The goals of the workshop included to:

Identify good practice and learn from participants’ experience;

Increase understanding of stakeholders' roles in sustainable development, and their limitations;

Increase understanding of incentives for and barriers against stakeholder action and stakeholder collaboration, focusing on both their short and long term gains;

Identify / prioritise urgent and emerging issues, particularly in relation to health and sustainable development and those that require joint stakeholder action; and

Identify areas of possible collaboration.

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B. Outcomes

The workshop helped participants to identify stakeholders’ responsibilities and learn about their respective concerns and interests. Participants shared their experiences with projects, programmes and partnership arrangements in developed and developing countries, and developed a better understanding of what they were able and prepared to do in order to promote the goals of sustainable development.

The workshop also helped to identify priority issues within the broad areas of ‘Health’ and ‘Corporate / Stakeholder Citizenship’. Participants discussed those priority issues and what contributions stakeholders and, in particular, stakeholder partnerships, could deliver.

The participants also exchanged views on how partnerships should be developed and what the success criteria of ‘smart partnerships’ might be.

Bringing together participants from different stakeholder groups, the workshop also helped to build linkages between stakeholder communities that operate in different sectors and at different levels around the world.

Possible Future Action Areas : Health

During the workshop, a number of potential areas for stakeholder collaboration were suggested, including:

Collaboration on HIV/AIDS research and development (R&D), education and delivery

Working with the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in a specific country to assist the national prioritisation process

Working to support WHO on its main areas of focus around the Earth Summit 2002

Lobbying governments to implement the conclusions of the Commission for Macroeconomics and Health

Preventative healthcare, promotion of healthy lifestyles; education and empowerment

Determining and advocating the optimum approval regime for drugs developed for diseases prevalent in developing countries

Innovation (R&D expenditure) targeting diseases prevalent in developing countries

Promoting linkages between traditional and conventional medicine

Build on employer / trade union agreements to improve occupational health.

Possible Future Action Areas: Corporate and Stakeholder Citizenship

A number of possible action areas for collaborative stakeholder action were suggested, including:

Addressing the equity vis-à-vis developing countries of transfer pricing policies within a corporate group

Exploring the applicability of the Forestry Stewardship Council approach to other sectors

Encourage the rating agencies to follow the FTSE4GOOD and DJSI lead

Creating linkages with the work on governance issues, led by IUCN / WRI / USCIB

Working to create a shared understanding of the meaning of 'stakeholder citizenship' in relation to different stakeholders and governments

Developing an understanding of stakeholder responsibilities regarding “public goods”

Promoting peer group pressure towards triple bottom line performance

Some participants considered many aspects of stakeholder citizenship to be cross-cutting. While some aspects such as subsidies tend to be issue specific, and therefore may be best addressed within each sector (e.g. food, energy, water), other aspects for example transparency and accountability or tools such as reporting and rating are better addressed overall.

General comments on Approaching Future Collaborative Action

Participants discussed barriers to and helpful conditions for collaborative stakeholder action, and shared their views of successful partnerships. There was considerable richness of experience and perspective among participants. The following points were made:

The process must be FUN in order to retain enthusiasm and achieve results, and targets must have associated timetables;

Partnerships need: 
- To involve all relevant stakeholders;
- Clear and jointly agreed goals and processes, with policies designed to enhance transparency and ownership;
- Clear incentives and benefits for all involved;
- Access to reliable information for all participants;
- Clearly assigned roles and responsibilities of partners;
- Continual independent monitoring / review  of performance, targets and structures;
- Collective trust and open communication, which builds resilience to challenges.

We need to be clear how the IC process will add value to specific existing projects that are underway elsewhere. Linkage with the IC process can broaden the scope and impact of planned and ongoing programmes.

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C. Follow-up

The Implementation Conference team will engage in follow-up activities to the workshop in order to continue preparations towards the Implementation Conference, including: 

Distribute summary report of the meeting to all participants and put all proceedings on the Implementation Conference website (;

Feed outcomes into the Earth Summit 2002 preparatory process;

Update the Issues Papers on Health and Corporate and Stakeholder Citizenship to reflect the priorities and possible action areas identified in the workshop;

Invite workshop participants to indicate whether they wish to continue to be involved in the Implementation Conference process; and

Form Issue Advisory Groups: 
to advise on the topics on which to focus and further identify possible collaborative action; and
- to identify and engage relevant stakeholder organisations that could play an active role in developing and implementing suggested collaborative action.

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