III: Building Blocks for Suggesting a Framework for Designing MSPs
To build a fundament for suggesting a framework for
designing multi-stakeholder processes, several building blocks need to be
These building blocks will be addressed in the following
chapters (2 – 8).
On that basis, Chapter 9 presents issues and questions
which need to be addressed when designing MSPs, drawing conclusions from Part
Goals of Multi-stakeholder Processes
Multi-stakeholder processes are
an important tool for sustainable development. Their objectives are to:
In a real sense, they are
designed to put people into the centre of decision-finding, making and
MSP are a new species in the complex biodiversity of governance and decision-finding structures. However they are not fully evolved or defined. The task of improving their role and effectiveness falls to all MSPs. In this regard, it is essential to experiment with MSPs for all to learn how to carry them out successfully.
Multi-stakeholder processes serve to build trust and can provide a basis for dealing with other complicated issues in the future. MSPs should be used to: look into alternative measures to develop viable frameworks of participation at all levels; increase the impact of un- or under-represented groups and protect their interests; identify stakeholders' roles in policy making and implementation; identify viable strategies of implementation of existing agreements (and MSP outcomes in-line with these agreements); develop indicators of good and bad practice; create monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and collective review procedures; enhance learning from the MSP experience; create and implement effective techniques for increasing commitment (when possible) and overcoming impediments to compliance (when necessary); and so on. By holding the potential to reach goals that would be unattainable if each participating sector worked alone, MSPs also provide a foundation for broader change. Finally, successful MSPs also help to build larger coalitions and thus create political power and advantage.
For different stakeholder groups, MSPs hold different
potential: for those under-represented they offer an entry point into the
political process; for governments, they offer much-needed expertise and
engagement in the refining of broad policies and their implementation; for NGOs,
they offer new opportunities for campaigning (towards all MSP participants; see
Hohnen 2000a), for the academic community, they offer opportunities to
contribute up-to-date findings into the political process.
For those wielding considerable (un-elected) power (such
as industry and NGOs), MSPs offer opportunities to increase transparency,
accountability and in the long run acceptance of their contentiously debated
activities – particularly as and if they change through such processes.
Engaging in MSPs is the logical next
step for corporations adopting a wider perspective which they need to in
increasingly globalising markets. The fierce debate around the World Trade
Organisation (WTO), the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Intellectual
Property Organisation (WIPO), for example, have brought inequalities and
injustice to the attention of a wider public, and the pressure on Northern
governments and on TNCs to address these injustices are likely to increase. The
virtual vacuum of international regulation, monitoring and enforcement will not
remain as large a "playing field" as it is at the moment.
MSPs are not the mechanism of
choice for all situations or problems, not even all that need stakeholder
participation. An essential pre-requisite is the presence of at least one common
goal, or at least a reasonable probability that one will emerge as a result of
the MSP. If this is not shared by everybody who should be involved, other
mechanisms such as bilateral interaction, traditional lobbying and campaigning
will be more appropriate.
MSPs are not a panacea for any
kind of problems, contentious issues, conflicts of interests, etc. MSPs are not
some kind of 'truth' nor do they develop it. They are a tool or catalyst which
will be applicable in some situations and not others. Being guided by agreed
principles of governance and experimenting with various forms of MSPs will help
us learn when and how to best use that tool.