Stakeholder Empowerment Project

The Stakeholder Empowerment Project

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Funded by the Ford Foundation, this eighteen month research project set out to review and identify a set of good practices and common terminology for engaging global stakeholders across the UN system.


The United Nations has long recognised the role that stakeholders can play in informing, implementing and monitoring intergovernmental decision-making.  Over three thousand NGOs now have consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and thousands more organisations from across all stakeholder groups have engaged in meetings and summits via special accreditation routs or have issued statements, tracked negotiations and monitored global commitments.  You need only read through the UN - NGLS newsletters or browse UN agency websites to discover the levels of activity across the UN system at any one time ranging from civil society Hearings, to multi-stakeholder dialogues, to open sessions with bureau members or ‘e-dialogue’ sessions with decision-makers. 

As new mechanisms for including stakeholders in intergovernmental meetings have been tried, developed, replaced and in some cases discarded, it is critical that some form of knowledge management is generated in order to share experiences, gather good practices and learn from common mistakes.  Furthermore, there is a worrying analytical hole emerging in the descriptions of civil society participation in intergovernmental meetings.  Whilst organisers are keen to announce the number of stakeholder participants, or the number of statements submitted by a stakeholder group, there is little analysis undertaken into the quality of the engagement process.  What is meant by the term ‘engagement’?  What were the experiences of the participating stakeholders?  What are we hoping to achieve by increasing the interface between Member States and stakeholders, and to what extent were those objectives fulfilled?

With this in mind, Stakeholder Forum conducted an eighteen month review of stakeholder engagement practices in the UN system.  The project sought to;
  • Review the interface between Member States and stakeholders in intergovernmental meetings across a range of UN processes
  • Document and evaluate some of the different ways for stakeholders to participate in intergovernmental meetings and negotiations
  • Identify a series of good practices and common terminology for engaging stakeholders in intergovernmental meetings.

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Funded by the Ford Foundation, this eighteen month project set out to review and identify a set of good practices for engaging global stakeholders across the UN system.