The Project

The Project
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Ongoing Work
MSP Examples
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The Project 

November 2000 - June 2001

In collaboration with Novartis (Switzerland)
With support from the Ford Foundation
Workshop hosted by BP Amoco plc, New York

The project aimed to develop a common yet flexible framework for various types of multi-stakeholder processes, based on analysing the values & ideology of such processes, existing examples and relevant scientific findings. The goal is to propose a step-by-step framework which allows for transparent, equitable, democratic and gender-balanced processes of dialogue and project development; which is agreeable to all stakeholders and can be adapted to various situations and issues in a flexible manner.





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One of the key aspects of Agenda 21 are the chapters dealing with the role of Major Groups (women, youth, indigenous peoples, NGOs, business & industry, workers & trade unions, science & technology, farmers, local authorities). Agenda 21 is the first UN document to extensively address the role of different stakeholders in the implementation of a global agreement. Agenda 21, in each of the chapters, outlines roles and responsibilities of the respective stakeholder groups, and stresses their involvement as being absolutely crucial for successful implementation of sustainable development.

Reflecting upon the practical implications, there are numerous ways to design meaningful stakeholder involvement, ranging from governments consulting stakeholders to creating multi-stakeholder dialogues and partnerships clearly linked into decision-making processes.

Since 1992, stakeholders have in various ways tried to work out the norms and standards for their involvement in multi-stakeholder processes. Internationally, the most advanced multi-stakeholder discussions occur at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) where there are well-prepared multi-stakeholder dialogues each year on different topics. They have also initiated ongoing multi-stakeholder processes. The multi-stakeholder process at the CSD was pioneered by UNED-UK and its development has in many cases been drawn from UNED-UK's recommendations.

Over the last few years, multi-stakeholder processes have started to generate considerable interest in other fora outside the Rio / CSD process, around intergovernmental bodies and at national levels. For example, with the Global Compact initiative, the UN Secretary General has embarked on developing a particular approach to partnerships with stakeholders; the OECD as well as individual companies have undertaken activities and organised events providing platforms for multi-stakeholder stakeholder dialogues on contentious issues in the area of biotechnology and health care; discussions on stakeholder involvement around the UN, UNEP, the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO abound in recent years as part of efforts towards institutional reform. Other examples include the World Commission on Dams; the Mining Initiative of the WBCSD and IIED; the Global Reporting Initiative; etc.

However, there is no common or basic framework; various approaches and experiences are rarely being linked or compared. Procedures of feeding stakeholder dialogues into official decision-making processes; of dealing with power gaps between stakeholders; of successful consultation procedures; of follow-up and implementation often remain unclear. Also, stakeholder groups have to date put forward their respective ideas rather than discussed and agreed possible common procedures amongst themselves. 

Researching and comparing the different approaches and distilling an acceptable “template procedure” seems a timely task to be undertaken by those interested in furthering the issues of sustainable development by addressing the necessary developments in governance structures and processes.

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1. Develop a methodological framework for multi-stakeholder processes around intergovernmental bodies, which can be promoted as a template agreed by a significant number and selection of stakeholders, to address issues which need public debate and stakeholder involvement and contentious issues of political, economic and technological development;

2. Impact stakeholder involvement in various intergovernmental process, eg the design of the preparatory process towards Earth Summit 2002 and the Summit itself; the ICC regional multi-stakeholder dialogues planned for 2001; Novartis future Forum events; etc.

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1. Review relevant examples and experiences by analysing relevant literature and conducting interviews with stakeholder representatives involved in the exemplar processes. Processes / mechanisms / experiences / current discourses to be reviewed include, for example, those around:

The UN CSD process, particularly the stakeholder dialogue approach since 1998

The UN Global Compact, looking at the UN side as well as selected partners

The Global Reporting Initiative

The World Commission on Dams

Recent OECD activities involving stakeholders and addressing bio-society issues, eg Edinburgh Conference in 2000

Stakeholder involvement strategies around the WHO

World Business Council & IIED Global Mining Initiative

etc... click for the full list of examples

UNED Forum has developed the sample of examples studied in consultation with stakeholder representatives, and has drawn on publications, interviews and reviews to obtain the case studies.

2. Review current thinking on global governance issues with regard to multi-stakeholder processes [ book chapter 4 ]

3. Review relevant research in the area of social and organisational sciences on mechanisms of decision-making in groups of high diversity, conflictual interests, and significant power gaps [ book chapter 6 ]

4. Review the value and ideological base of multi-stakeholder processes [ book chapter 5 ]

4. Produce a draft methodological framework of MSPs, including the theoretical fundaments and practical guidelines for procedural arrangements [ book chapter 8 ]

5. Obtain review and comments from a variety of stakeholder representatives, incl. UNED Forum’s International Advisory Board and representatives of processes / experiences studied.

The first draft went out for comments to UNED Forum’s International Advisory Board, people involved in the examples, researchers, UN and government representatives and others interested in MSPs.

6. Redraft the methodological framework and send it out to participants prior to the workshop (Draft 2 as of 10 April 2001).

7. Organize a 2 day workshop in New York, to be held on the weekend between CSD-9 and CSD-10 (28/29 April), with about 80 invited participants, representing the consulted groups and organisations with a view to include representatives of exemplary processes, all relevant stakeholders and regions. 

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1. Exchange of experiences with multi-stakeholder processes around different intergovernmental processes, thus forming a network of representatives involved in the various processes and opportunities to learn from each other

2. The workshop shall be documented in at least two publications (printed & electronic format):

The methodological framework for multi-stakeholder processes submitted to CSD-10 (report summary)

A workshop report - see co-chair's summary

A book publication on multi-stakeholder processes (with Earthscan, London) by the end of 2001

3. Outputs will be used to promote acceptable processes of stakeholder involvement in various arenas and on potentially contentious issues, incl. the preparations for Earth Summit 2002. We submitted suggestions to the 1st PrepComm for Earth Summit 2002, 30 April - 2 May 2001.


Project Schedule

Research & framework development

Research (MSP examples; scientific research):
November 2000 - February 2001

1st draft of proposed methodological framework:
25 February 2001

Draft sent to review group for comments (written comments and telephone &  face-to-face interviews):
End of February - 25 March 2001

Second draft sent to review group & workshop participants
12 April 2001

Workshop preparations

Invitations to draft list of speakers, facilitators, participants
January 2001

Finalising workshop programme & further invitations
February - March 2001

Proposed framework to CSD-10 / 2002 process

30 April 2001

Workshop report

June 2001

Book publication with Earthscan, London

December 2001

Implementing the developed framework and guide (UNED Forum projects)

International Conference on Freshwater, Bonn, Germany, December 2001

Stakeholder Implementation Conference, August 2002 (Contact Minu Hemmati)

and other multi-stakeholder dialogues and projects underway, ... 

Developing a learning hub on MSPs (from June 2001)

New collection of commented links

List serve


For further information about the project, please contact:

At UNED Forum
Minu Hemmati, (Consultant / Project Co-ordinator)
Felix Dodds, (Project Co-ordinator & UNED Forum Director)
Jasmin Enayati, (Consultant / Project Assistant & Scientific Review Consultant)
Jan McHarry, (Consultant / MSP Examples)

At Novartis International
Andreas Seiter,

At BP Amoco
Jane Paxman,


Contact Minu Hemmati and Felix Dodds for further information.