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Troubles on the way: An analysis of the challenges faced by multi-stakeholder platforms (South Africa & Bolivia)

Author: Nicolas Faysse
Publication Date: 2006

Using two cases from South Africa and Bolivia, both in regards to water resource management, this paper analyses Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSP’s) as a means of resolving conflicts around natural resource management in both developing countries and on a global level. In examining why MSP’s have been and continue to be viewed in an often unfavourable context, the author identifies  and discusses five principal issues:

  • Power Relationships
  • Platform Composition
  • Stakeholder representation and capacity to participate meaningfully in the debates
  • Decision-making power and mechanisms
  • Cost of setting up an MSP

The paper demonstrates that through the insufficient planning and management of the above five issues, many MSP’s do not live up to expectations, concluding that to ensure the future success of an MSP the following must be investigated:

  • How to increase participant capacity with regards to technical issues
  • How to maintain effective communication between participants and their constituencies
  • How to balance MSP’s with elected representatives in decision-making processes
  • How to ensure equality between the MSP participants before the platform commences