Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Annex C: Forms of Multi-Stakeholderism

One of GRI's major recommendations is to transform ‘multistakeholder consultations’ on global matters into a widely acceptable form of  ‘multistakeholder governance.’ This arrangement implies that non-state Actors would no longer simply provide input to nation-state decision makers but actually be expected to make and implement global policy decisions.

There are some sharp differences between ‘multistakeholder consultations’ and ‘multistakeholder governance,’ some of which are often blurred by the loose use of the term ‘multistakeholder.’ Part of the confusion emanates from the UN Charter. The Charter creates non-governmental organizations in consultative status to ECOSOC. ECOSOC does not actually 'consult' these organizations, but it allows these ECOSOC accredited non-governmental organizations to attend ECOSOC meetings and to meet one-on-one with delegates.

Another part of the definitional confusion surrounding  the ‘multistakeholder’ debates arises from the fact that it has become almost a mantra by some in civil society bodies, governments, and business organizations. The rush to call for ‘multistakeholder governance’ often means that key matters are left quite vague, such who are the ‘right’ constituent groups for each ‘multistakeholder organization,’ how to select the shareholders from each constituency, how are costs of the multi-stakeholder process  to be met, and how are the decisions of a ‘multistakeholder governance’ process  to be implemented.

The tables below identify two forms of ‘multistakeholder consultations’; five different versions of currently existing ‘multistakeholder governance’ structures; and three new ‘multistakeholder governance’ structures implied by GRI’s recommendations.  Supplemental information on the names of the various institutions that use each system, their definitions of constituency groups, their financial arrangements, and the specific role of business and civil society sectors is provided below.

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