Designing for engagement: Insights for more equitable and resilient multi-stakeholder forums

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Key messages

  • Multi-stakeholder forums (MSFs) are increasingly seen as essential for collaboration -- across different levels of government and among multiple constituencies-- due to the growing urgency to address climate change and transform development trajectories.
  • A review of the scholarly literature reveals that more equitable and resilient MSFs require a shift in emphasis away from how to design projects toward designing engagement in a way that addresses a specific situation or context.
  • Designing for engagement combines top-down with bottom-up approaches, starting with a period of research and meetings at upper levels to understand the potential challenges that local project implementers face within the broader context they are encountering.
  • This process is engaged, committed and adaptive, supporting a spirit of co-learning among all actors, building mutual respect and trust over time.
  • This approach has the best chance of resilience in the face of change or challenge, and of leading to equitable outcomes -- and is not fostered by the increasingly short-term nature of donor funding and the emphasis on simple quantitative impact indicators.


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