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Facilitating Effective Multi-stakeholder Processes

What is a Multi-stakeholder Process (MSP)?

“An MSP is a process in which diverse actors (e.g. government agencies, producer organizations, NGOs,

private actors, donors and others) collaborate to achieve a common goal.”
- Wageningen University MSP portal

A Multi-stakeholder Process (MSP) is fundamentally about participatory decision-making and information sharing at the country level. Key stakeholders should be represented and decide what issues to focus on and what actions to take.

MSPs range from simple processes, such as one-off consultations, to more complex ones such as multi-stakeholder networks and partnerships.

What are the benefits of MSPs?

  • Relevance: Local stakeholders best understand which activities are truly relevant to their needs and realistic in a specific context.
  • Ownership and sustainability: Local stakeholders share information  and jointly decide what actions to take.  This leads to greater local ownership of activities and outcomes – which makes them more sustainable.
  • Builds partnerships and alliances: Having a common goal strengthens partnerships and creates opportunities for dialogue and sharing resources.

Tips for facilitating MSPs

“If local people take ownership of all stages and levels of decision-making, development activities are more likely to build on local strengths, meet local needs and priorities, and foster self-determination and sustainability.”

- VSO  Participatory Approaches: A facilitator’s guide

Designing the MSP: Key stakeholders should be involved in designing the MSP and coordinating the process.

Selecting Participants: Conducting a Stakeholder Mapping exercise will ensure that you do not miss any important groups affected by the issue at hand. Select people at approximately the same level of authority and keep a gender balance.
Suggested Tool: Stakeholder Mapping

Facilitation: Local facilitators should have had prior training in facilitation techniques and use the local language. They should make sure women have a voice and that the meeting is truly participatory. FAO and similar organizations can support the process but their role should be that of an observer or mentor rather than leading the MSP.
Suggested Tool: MSP Facilitation Guidelines

Structure and set up: Having a permanent platform for multi-stakeholder consultations will ensure that the benefits of MSPs continue beyond the scope of the project or programme.

Process: During meetings, minimize long plenary presentations by experts and maximize group work and discussions. Different people should have the opportunity to take the floor and report back to plenary.
Suggested Tool: Socratic Questions

Common Goal: Stakeholders often have different, sometimes even conflicting, goals and objectives. MSPs can be used to find common ground and build a shared vision for the future. Suggested Tool: Visioning 

Setting up an MSP

Phase 1: Initiate the process

  • Clarify common objectives and the scope of the initiative
  • Do an initial situation analysis (i.e. who are the key stakeholders ? What are their interests, fears, expectations, issues and power relationships? What politics are involved?)
  • Establish a coordination team
  • Select milestones 

Phase 2: Build sustainable collaboration

  • Build consensus on a shared future vision
  • Make sure consultations and decision making processes are inclusive and participatory
  • Create trust by sharing each other’s values, concerns and interests
  • Communicate outcomes to stakeholders regularly

Phase 3: Manage collaboration

  • Develop detailed and concrete action plans
  • Secure resources and support
  • Develop capacities and build on existing talent of each stakeholder
  • Establish management mechanisms (with built-in conflict-resolution mechanisms)

More information
Case study from Sudan: Multi-Stakeholder Processes: Key to Effective Capacity Development

 

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