Co-creating a sustainable future

Forms of Stakeholder Dialogues

Overview over the seven forms of Stakeholder Dialogues

Singular stakeholder consultation


1–3 days


Event/workshop/conference to get input from different stakeholders

A singular stakeholder consultation is usually applied if an initiative, a project or program, a company or a government body intends to build its programme planning, progress review or impact monitoring on the input and/or feedback of relevant stakeholders. Such 1-3 day consultative day events can furthermore help to increase the interest of stakeholder groups in the potential for future closer collaboration. The challenge in singular stakeholder consultations lies in creating events that go beyond conveying information. Only meaningful participation and transparency how input and feedback of stakeholders will be integrated in the furtheron process will lead to constructive and credible dialogues.

Example: The Croatian Ministry for Environment initiated a stakeholder consultation process to ensure a sustainable and joint use of land and resources in the Croatian Adriatic coastal region. The project’s core-team organized a stakeholder workshop offering the diverse interest groups, such as local administration, fishermen, representatives from the tourism industry and other local SMEs the opportunity to exchange ideas and experience on integrated coastal zone management and obtain their input on the sustainable usage of the coastal area

Sequence of regular stakeholder consultation


Several 1–3-day events/meetings/workshops


Consultative stakeholder events leading to a specific outcome

A sequence of regular stakeholder consultations is applicable if continued or repeated consultation of selected stakeholders is required. This can be e.g. for  policy development or review, to design a participatory implementation strategy, or to ensure regular feedback for the implementation of a specific initiative, usually in the form of a sequence of regular events (from one to three days, several times over a period of one or two years). Feedback and input that is requested from the different stakeholders is then integrated into an implementation process for which the initiator of the Stakeholder Dialogue is responsible. Often, regular stakeholder consultations have a specific outcome, such as the development of a national or regional strategy on a certain topic.

Example: A Round Table initiative which held several meetings to discuss issues of Corporate Social responsibility and social standards in China, supported dialogue and the exchange of information between the participating actors. In addition, the repeated interaction led to an increased awareness about the topic and to the identification of concrete measures and their possible implementations.

Institutionalized Stakeholder Consultation


Ongoing, following public planning procedures


Government-led stakeholder consultation embedded in regulations

When governments, intergovernmental organizations or regional organizations make certain stakeholder consultation part of their regulatory, implementation or planning procedures, the Stakeholder Dialogue becomes an institutionalized feature. The institutionalized stakeholder consultation procedure can be the result of positive experiences in preceding stakeholder consultation processes, such as stakeholder forums for the ongoing review of strategic planning processes. It can also be part of the constitution, or the result of societal or international pressure groups forcing a public sector actor to integrate different stakeholder views to maintain peace. As institutionalized Stakeholder Dialogues are convened following a regulatory procedure, the convening and participating stakeholders may lose the sense of urgency that is typical in other Stakeholder Dialogues. The challenge lies in breathing life into this form of Stake-holder Dialogue and in keeping the purpose and need for stakeholder consultation high on the agenda of decision-makers.

Example: The National Development Council (NEDLAC) in South Africa is an institutionalized Stakeholder Dialogue between the state, private businesses, unions and small communities. This institutionalized dialogue exemplifies and reviews the socio-economic dimension of the South African societal transition and healing process. Within the context of this dialogue, participants discuss draft legislation and strategic decisions. In this way, participation and right of say have been institutionalized on a high level.

Stakeholder Platform (exchange)


Ongoing, taking place for as long as the exchange is relevant, regular meetings


Regular meetings, exchange of experience, development of joint recommendations, opportunity for networking, advocacy for joint interest

Stakeholder platforms can be established different stakeholders, mostly driven by a political or development agenda, see the need to exchange and learn from another on a particular topic or to advocate for the advancement of a certain issue. Such platforms are often and can be initiated by the public or private sector or civil society, but most often this is a form in which private-sector stakeholders take a particular interest. The dialogue platform can develop its own identity, and even become an institution (e.g. an association).  It also can remain a loose structure (e.g. a round table) where stakeholders meet to regularly. Beyond exchange,  more advocacy-oriented stakeholder platforms can also formulate a sectoral “opinion” on a certain development or issue and develop respective recommendations for certain actions, address them to one stakeholder group (e.g. government), or convey them to their own organizations (e.g. corporate social responsibility initiatives). Stakeholder platforms stay alive for as long as there is a sense of urgency to deal with the issue at stake. The challenge lies in keeping the relevance alive and ensuring that the platform’s existence has the desired effect.

Example: As a stakeholder platform the African Cashew Alliance is an emerging organization that promotes the processing of raw cashews, increases the income of African farmers and promotes the global consumption of cashew nuts. It supports the development of country-specific cashew policy agendas in 10 member countries and facilitates the exchange of information and best practices for cashew processing. It also assists its members by promoting the African cashew industry in national and international markets. The African Cashew Alliance works with National Committees in the each member country. These committees are composed of all relevant actors in the cashew value chain, and include government representatives.

Stakeholder Initiatives


Ongoing until solution is found, regular stakeholder meetings


Cross-sector initiative to solve complex problems, to develop joint

policy and/or standards, or to achieve jointly agreed-upon objectives

(often national, regional or international in scope)

Stakeholder initiatives are implementation-focused cross-sector initiatives aiming to solve complex problems and to develop strategies, policies or sustainability standards jointly. The Stakeholder initiative becomes visible as a stakeholder body actors join in to collaborate to achieve an agreed-upon goal within an agreed-upon timeframe. In Stakeholder initiatives participating actors carry joint responsibility for the implementation and success of the endeavor. This requires agreed-upon procedures for decision-making (usually consensual), monitoring and evaluation. A Stakeholder initiative hence needs joint project-management instruments and governance, steering and representation mechanisms that all participating stakeholders agree on. Stakeholder initiatives often have and a project secretariat that is responsible for communication, implementation and preparation of stakeholder events. Such initiatives require high-quality process management, good communication and visible implementation results to keep a complex group of stakeholders aligned behind the common goal.

Sometimes, projects or programs are designed as stakeholder initiatives from the start. In this case, actors from different stakeholder groups (often public/private or private/civil society groups) come together to implement planned activities and monitor results jointly. Stakeholder initiatives can also be the result of stakeholder consultation processes that evolved towards a focus on implementation, and where participating stakeholders see the need to enter into more structured cooperation.

Example: The Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C), is a basic sustainability standard for green coffee production. It has been developed by a group of international stakeholders: coffee producers from all major coffee-producing countries, trade and industry in coffee and international NGOs joined the stakeholder initiative and came together as a steering committee to develop the standard and to decide on the conditions of its application.

Stakeholder Platform (management of implementation)


Ongoing until solution is found, regular stakeholder meetings Ongoing as long as joint task is required, regular stakeholder meetings


Joint management of implementation

Stakeholder platforms can also be focused on implementation: stakeholders as members of such a platform come together at regular intervals to review the management of a particular issue of common concern, adjust future planning and revise implementation strategies. Often, such a stakeholder platform functions as a long-term steering structure. Members of the platform represent certain constituencies or expertise. Implementation-focused stakeholder platforms are typical in the field of natural resource management such as water or forest management committees, consisting of representatives from communities, public and private sector that jointly manage access to and use of the natural resource at stake.

However, an implementation-focused stakeholder platform can also be the result of a stakeholder initiative or stakeholder consultation process: it may serve the purpose of carrying on with what the Stakeholder Dialogues have already achieved and of ensuring stakeholder perspectives in implementation review or coordination of implementation.

Example:?In a project to develop sustainable water usage, the Namibian Ministry for Agriculture, Water and Forestry is working to develop sustainable control of water catchment areas through integrated water source management. For this purpose, committees consisting of representatives from the public and private sectors, civil society and NGOs have already been established in two locations. Their duty is to clear up issues and questions regarding water management in cooperation with state water authorities.

Stakeholder implementation partnerships


Temporary according to project agreement, regular review workshops


Cross-sector implementation project to achieve agreed-upon

objectives, joint management of implementation

Stakeholder implementation partnerships are the form with the tightest commitment to collaborate and the elaborated  cooperation structure. Stakeholder implementation partnerships manage large budgets, require professional project management and need to set up a steering structure as well as monitoring and evaluation procedures right from the start. A typical example for such form of Stakeholder Dialogue is a Public Private Partnership. As they are run like projects, they face pressure to implement and report accomplishments and to hold to agreed-upon objectives and milestones. Each of the stakeholder partners has to fulfill an agreed role and is responsible for implementing certain aspects of the project. If the complexity of the partnership requires it, stakeholder partnerships can be managed by a project secretariat.

The challenge of stakeholder partnerships lies in balancing and reconciling different expectations of speed and success. Often, actors from very different organizational cultures (for example, from the public sector, development agencies, the private sector, or NGOs) need to work closely and to develop a mutual understanding of their procedural requirements and their mode of operation.

Example: A stakeholder partnership between Volkswagen (V W), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the German development cooperation had the common goal of collectively implementing National Labor Programs on Safety and Health at Work in three countries with emerging economies – Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. In addition, a core element of the project was the implementation of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) measures among VW’s suppliers. These practical experiences at the enterprise level were fed into the process of developing national Safework Programs. Thereby, on the basis of ILO conventions, it was envisaged between July 2004 and December 2008 to harmonize political norms and operational practice.

Hier overview Tabelle als separaten pdf download anbieten.

>> Click here to get back to the introduction

>> Click here to read more about what Stakeholder Dialogues are

>> Click here to read more about when and where to apply the Stakeholder Dialogue approach

>> Click here to read more about Forms of Stakeholder Dialogues

>> Click here to read more about how to make Stakeholder Dialogues work

Print this page