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Disadvantaged Groups in Multi-stakeholder Negotiations

Authors: David Edmunds and Eva Wollenberg

Publication Date: June 2002

Negotiations are seen to be of vital importance by environmental and development practitioners when guiding natural resource stakeholders towards collective action on natural resource sustainability. Aimed at practitioners of multi-stakeholder negotiation processes, this paper examines how power differences can result in disadvantaged groups of stakeholders not maximising the benefits of negotiations and discusses the issue under the following headings:

  • The Search for Agreement
  • Bringing Everyone to the Table
  • Transparency of Information
  • Negotiations in the Context of Other Stakeholder Strategies

The paper details steps which the practitioner can take to increase not only the position of these disadvantaged stake-holders but also to make the negotiation process more attractive to these groups, including:

  • Give disadvantaged groups the option to not participate in negotiations and to not be made more visible to powerful stakeholders.
  • Create possibilities for disadvantaged groups to use alliances with more powerful groups in negotiations.
  • Acknowledge the right of disadvantaged groups to identify “non-negotiable” topics, or items they view as inappropriate for discussion in the negotiations.
  • View negotiations as a long-term, iterative process and be ready!