Multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships, which bring together people from different interest groups to discuss shared challenges, opportunities, policy actions and advocacy strategies, are “considered essential to virtually all global initiatives,” said Anne. Larson, gender team leader. , Equity and Wellbeing at the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF).
Larson made the comments when opening a session on the topic on June 6, 2022 at Science Week, a hybrid internal CIFOR-ICRAF conference bringing together more than 500 scientists from around the world.
“For us as an organization, for all of our work on climate restoration, biodiversity, the Sustainable Development Goals and food systems, these kinds of platforms and partnerships are essential,” she said.
However, researchers and practitioners have found that uncritical optimism towards the planning and implementation of multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships does not help.
“There’s a general assumption that these are easy or obvious in terms of bringing people together,” Larson said. “It is also often assumed that multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships are the answer: that they are the best and perhaps the only way to bring about change.
In practice, the effective implementation of multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships poses many challenges: there is little comparative or rigorous research on how they work and many other things need to happen alongside and outside of them to enable solutions. truly transformative.
In addition to seeking multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships, CIFOR-ICRAF has considerable collective experience in using, organizing and engaging with them in a wide range of contexts and at multiple scales.
The session was conceptualized as the start of a broader effort to take stock of the organization’s collective experience in this area and produce results that could establish it as an important knowledge broker towards greater multi-stakeholder collaboration. efficient and fair.
Lisa Fuchs, who leads the asset-based community development team at CIFOR-ICRAF, shared her experience of engaging for ownership and impact at different scales. She described the development of a cluster selection tool that supports development effectiveness by helping external actors identify in advance those interested in what they have to offer.
Fuchs also shared a six-step landscape-level engagement process for sustainability planning that can be adapted to the specifics of each context in which it is applied.
She also spoke about the OneCGIAR Agroecology initiative’s principles for stakeholder engagement.
“Getting engagement early on is fundamental to the likely success of an activity,” she said. “In order to have a truly transformational approach, it is important that we find a way of doing things that is context-specific but comparable.”
CIFOR-ICRAF scientist Emily Gallagher discussed her team’s work on jurisdictional approaches to multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships for multifunctional landscape governance and zero deforestation products in Ghana. In the west of the country, the team is studying the implementation of a jurisdictional approach to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa sector as part of Ghana’s sub-national REDD+ strategy. Together, CIFOR-ICRAF and SNV are developing collaborative learning platforms that bring together forest users and cocoa cooperatives to learn about climate-smart agriculture and land use planning.
In the east of the country, Gallagher and his colleagues work in a dynamic commodity landscape with oil palm, rubber, cocoa, mining and other minor crops.
“In this landscape, we act as a frontier or gateway organization to create horizontal links between stakeholders at the jurisdictional level and vertical links to enable local influence and knowledge sharing with regional and national decision makers”, she explained. “Our role is this translation between the spheres of science, policy and planning… and in this case, we use multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships as a framework for participation integrated into jurisdictional or administrative structures.
Kimberly Merten, Deputy Knowledge Coordinator at the Global Landscapes Forum, spoke about the creation of the global coalition over the past decade. The Forum is a knowledge-driven platform, similar to a multi-stakeholder platform or partnership, but works across scales, disciplines and sectors.
Merten said that one of the main challenges facing the Forum is that “we are a bit like the ‘woman in the middle’ and we can be kind of a bottleneck in terms of collaboration and integration between stakeholders“.
She said they are employing strategies to address this issue, such as regionalization, capacity building and helping funders and financial experts connect with restoration practitioners.
Valentina Robiglio, Senior Land Use Systems Scientist at CIFOR-ICRAF, discussed the use of multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships to enhance engagement and collective learning as part of the SMART initiative to promote the development of agroforestry in San Martín in the Peruvian Amazon. Robiglio and his team used the stakeholder approach for risk-informed and evidence-based decision making.
“The vision that was developed was to integrate agroforestry into the regional social and economic growth program of San Martín,” she said. “But it became apparent through our engagement with stakeholders that there was a major barrier to this: lack of knowledge, which is a critical factor that impacts the ability to articulate a regulatory, technical and social context conducive to the scaling up of agroforestry”.
As a result, SMART participants have collectively developed a platform that catalyzes knowledge acquisition through collaborative learning and the integration of data and information.
Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti, scientist at CIFOR-ICRAF, explained his team’s work to support equity and social inclusion in multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships.
In CIFOR’s global comparative study on REDD+, a study of 14 different multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships in four countries showed a renewed focus on participation and collaboration as a way to urgently transform development trajectories.
“It’s the idea: that if we get together, things will change. But the organizers of the different multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships recognized that there were very clear power inequalities between the participants and very few of them had strategies to deal with these inequalities,” said Sarmiento Barletti.
Thus, the research team worked with participants in multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships to design an adaptive and reflective social learning tool called “How are we?”, which is designed to be used by the participants themselves. . They have published it as a generic tool and are also developing specific versions for particular contexts, such as to support the participation of indigenous women in the management of their territories, to enable inclusive participatory management of protected areas and to support the co-management of communal reserves in the Peruvian Amazon.
CIFOR-ICRAF scientist Linda Yuliani discussed the use of multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships in Indonesia for both facilitation and research.
For facilitation, his team used them to develop principles of good governance; promote learning; foster mutual understanding and solutions; creating collective action networks; ensure the relevance of the issues; and help build adaptive capacity and resilience.
As a research tool, they were used as a means of collecting and triangulating data as well as assessing staff perceptions and stakeholder knowledge.
Yuliani explained that “there is still a lot of mismatch between the objectives and the methods used and there is a common assumption that organizing multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships will directly guarantee participation, equality and/or l ‘stock”.
She recommended that facilitators move from problem-based approaches, which can undermine morale and motivation, to strengths-based methods such as appreciative inquiry, which “help build confidence and plan the achievement of objectives in a realistic manner”. She also noted that “building on existing local mechanisms has contributed and added value to capacity building and has led to more relevant regulations and programs.”
Larson noted his colleagues’ plans to consolidate a network of CIFOR-ICRAF staff working on multi-stakeholder platforms and partnerships; perform an inventory process; and collaborate on publications presenting their comparative evidence.
This research is part of CIFOR’s global comparative study on REDD+. Funding partners who have supported this research include the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (grant no. QZA-21/0124), the International Climate Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (Grant No. 20_III_108), and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry with financial support from CGIAR Fund donors.
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