Facilitating Stakeholder Collaboration: Partnerships that work

The staff of Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation have direct experience in facilitating stakeholder collaboration in many countries in the world, and at different levels – from local to global. We help our partners get the right people involved and enable them to jointly agree on actions, based on sound analysis and dialogue.

In doing so, safe spaces are created to find innovative solutions for the most pressing challenges facing food, agriculture and nature today.

This practice also informs the cutting-edge capacity development services we provide, such as our annual three-week international course on facilitating multi-stakeholder partnerships to foster sustainable and inclusive food systems.

Our work to support stakeholder collaboration has been inspired by the motivation and passion that comes when people have the courage and insight to ‘walk in each other’s shoes’ and find new paths towards shared ambitions for the future.

We work together with scientists and researchers within Wageningen University & Research to combine our hands-on practical action with fundamental research to develop leading methodologies and techniques on facilitating stakeholder collaboration.

MSP guide

This guide links the underlying rationale for multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs), with a clear four-phase process model, a set of seven core principles, key ideas for facilitation and 60 participatory tools for analysis, planning and decision making. It has been written for those directly involved in MSPs – as a stakeholder, leader, facilitator or funder – to provide both the conceptual foundations and practical tools that underpin successful partnerships. 

The seven principles identified to make MSPs effective are:

  1. embracing systemic change;
  2. transforming institutions;
  3. working with power;
  4. dealing with conflict;
  5. effective communication;
  6. promoting collaborative leadership;
  7. and fostering participatory learning.

All these aspects are interlinked with other expertise areas within Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation and applied in practice in domains such as nutrition and landscapes.

Sharing our expertise online

Bringing knowledge into action means sharing insights. On our co-creation portal www.mspguide.org we share tools, methods and case studies which challenge practitioners in multi-stakeholder processes in their knowledge, experience and strategies. It includes a wide range of resources, the tools and methods used in our work, and case studies to facilitate learning from the examples of those who have gone before you.

Bringing knowledge into action means sharing insights.

Examples

Uganda Nutrition Action Plan applied in all districts

We were actively involved in a USAID-funded project aimed at strengthening local governance for nutrition in Uganda together with eight ministries, CSOs, academia and the private sector. We coached the project team and designed, tested and finalised the tailor-made MSP tools applied.

Key challenges were finding ways to integrate nutrition in the district plans, aligning multiple sectors to the goal of reducing malnutrition, and having the envisioned impact to improve the nutrition situation. All Uganda districts now apply the approach with the set of tools we built together, which can be viewed on the Prime Minister’s website.

Combat climate change in the Horn of Africa through regional knowledge exchange

We are involved in a range of programmes looking at landscapes in an integrated and inter-sectoral manner. One example is the Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Centre and Network (HOAREC&N), established to increase the regional exchange of knowledge and practice within the Horn of Africa.

We assisted HOAREC&N in designing a ‘landscape governance learning journey’, bringing regional players together and enhancing their capacity to better understand the spatial dynamics in their landscape, build stakeholder coalitions, mitigate conflicts and strengthen local, national and regional institutions to combat climate change in a collaborative manner. Read more on the website of Horn of Africa Climate Change Program.