Presentation by Richard Sherman

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You Have Been Consulted! Climate Change Multi-Stakeholder Processes in South Africa

(Richard Sherman, EarthLife South Africa)

Richard Sherman opened his presentation on multi-stakeholder climate change practice in South Africa by explaining how the complex structure of South Africa’s National Climate Change Committee, consisting of several ministries, businesses, NGOs and trade unions challenges the multi-stakeholder process on climate change in South Africa. It’s the Committee's mandate is to guide / advise / manage the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; to engage in a national communication process; and to advise on the Global Environmental Facility.

He went on to discuss some avoidable pitfalls of multi-stakeholder dialogues:

Lack of clear work programmes and implementation procedures;

Confusion of roles / identities / leadership and direction;

Compromise for progress / accommodation of diverse views / approaches;

Bureaucratisation of process;

Lack of visible progress particularly to those not involved in the process; 

Capacity of the State;

Technical nature of debate disempowers new role players / non-negotiators;

Institutional Memory for government / stakeholders;

Inter – departmental cooperation/confusion.

By asking a series of questions, he raised a few points that need to be looked at when being involved in national multi-stakeholder dialogues, for example:

Do we follow a sectoral approach to multi-stakeholder processes or is a centralized overarching framework with issues based working groups / committee’s a better option?

How do we benchmark the performance of multi-stakeholder processes?

How do we review effectiveness / progress?

How do we remove barriers for maximum participation and effectiveness? Who should do this?

Representation / mandates – Do we merely represent entrenched views or are we attempting to move sectoral views to find a common ground?

How do we establish relationships of trust and full disclosure?

Do multi-stakeholder processes lead to effective partnerships between the State and non-state actors?

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Contact Minu Hemmati and Felix Dodds for further information.