The rationale for civil society organisations (CSOs) to engage in multistakeholder initiatives is to influence corporate activities to move in a more sustainable direction. Over the past 15 years, CSOs, which include NGOs and trade unions, have been involved in many different initiatives involving multiple stakeholders. This guidebook takes stock of the experiences they have gained and identifies lessons they have learned in the process. strengthen the influence of CSOs in multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs).
This guide is intended for professionals working for CSOs and participating in MSIs. It provides strategic perspectives for action and highlights critical issues to address when participating in MSIs. It is based on extensive research and experience gathered by SOMO over the years. For the purpose of drafting this guide, nine individual interviews and three group interviews with MSI practitioners were also carried out. In addition, the author consulted with current academic
and professional literature on MSIs and related concepts. The guide was also subject to both an internal and an external review. The guide is mainly based on the experiences of Northern CSOs, but it is intended to be useful for CSOs based in the South as well.
In the following chapter, the concept of the MSI is explored; its main functions are explained and different perspectives are analysed. The guide continues by addressing critical issues that have been identified by and for CSOs participating in MSIs. These issues occur at different levels:
- The individual CSO representative who participates in the MSI.
- The CSO he or she represents.
- The civil society level (comprising CSOs that do and do not participate in MSIs).
- The MSI itself.
A separate chapter is dedicated to each of these levels. Subsequently, the guide includes a check list to help CSO practitioners in their MSI work. An outlook on the future of MSIs is also provided in the final chapter titled ‘Looking ahead’. The guide finishes off with a list of further resources that are considered useful for CSO practitioners.