Should we talk about multistakeholderism?

In an increasingly globalised and complex world the participation of multiple stakeholders is conquering its way to set standards for effective discussions and policy-making.

Multistakeholderism as an evolving definition

In general, stakeholders encompass all interested groups or individuals, such as states, intergovernmental organisations, the private sector, the technical community, academics and civil society. It includes all those who influence, can influence or are affected by the decision. The lines between these groups are still blurred, which makes the multistakeholder process open, allowing for transparency and inclusiveness. 

According to M. Hemmati, “multi-stakeholder processes describes processes which aim to bring together all major stakeholders in a new form of communication, decision-finding (and possibly decision-making) on a particular issue.” In essence, it’s a principle of an inclusive society, where management is joint between the participating groups in their respective roles. Such a principle of governance creates a sense of stronger legitimacy since all actors are able to participate in policymaking to directly or indirectly help shape the governance ecosystem, which achieves inclusive and sustainable participation.

Why choose multistakeholderism?

Too often we are focused to work within our own domains and we seek variety within our own sectors, academics seek other academics, governments seek other regulators. However, the global governance system requires more insight into issues than just the expertise that is within one sector, these sectors need to combine efforts and understanding to provide a more balanced overview of an issue so that a solution can be found which is a more holistic answer to a problem. We are required to move away from cause and effect scenarios that focus only individual sectors – we must move towards understanding consequences across the different sectors. 

Let’s take an example of Internet Governance issues. The Internet is often perceived as a free, open and interconnected network of networks, where governmental control is not defined. Hence, the diversity of players requires an approach that would allow different stakeholders to influence decisions. Take a look at our work on the Internet Governance forums here and here.

In a world where trust is under pressure and global issues become ever more complex, the practice of transparent and respectful multistakeholder dialogue is a way to build consensus and legitimacy to ensure that we enter the future with a flourishing society, not a broken one.
Nadia Tjahja
Co-Founder & CEO

What are the benefits?

The multistakeholder approach is favoured because it allows for diversification of the decision-making process. It potentially can change governance and/or improve situations in their respective fields. At the same time, multistakeholder methods “endorse principles like openness, transparency, and the broad-based collaboration and equal participation of those affected in ‘decision-finding (and possibly decision-making) on a particular issue.” It also allows decision-makers to take into consideration expert views but also society’s desires and needs. 

Overall, in such a complex and interconnected world we live in, multistakeholderism sets the floor for a mutually built and governed world, where the stakeholders participate, develop partnerships and live in societies constructed on their aspirations. 

Join the conversation!

What are your views on multistakeholder approach? Let us know in the comment section or email us


Photo credits: Internet Governance Forum 2019

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