Photo: JUSTAR.nl

How can civil society organizations improve their positions in negotiations with the business world, be it in alliances, dialogues or round tables? In a guidebook titled ‘Multi-stakeholder initiatives. A strategic guide for civil society organizations’ that is published today, SOMO researcher Mariëtte van Huijstee describes a strategic action perspective for civil society organizations (CSOs) who are involved in multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs).

MSIs are interactive processes in which business, CSOs and possibly other stakeholder groups interact to make business processes more socially and/or environmentally sustainable. Examples of MSIs are the Forest Stewardship Council for sustainable forestry practices, the Round Table for Sustainable Palmoil and the Fair Wear Foundation to improve labour conditions in the garment industry.

‘The guidebook has been written in response to a need we have identified,’ explains Mariëtte van Huijstee. ‘At a time of unprecedented corporate influence, many CSOs struggle to work out how they should relate to companies. Increasingly, CSOs are working together with corporations and others in finding solutions to complex sustainability issues. However, this approach also presents a specific set of challenges for CSOs.’

MSIs may be an effective way to make business processes more socially and/or environmentally sustainable, but this does not happen automatically. Already there is a wealth of experience among CSOs with regard to what works and what doesn’t.

‘At SOMO, we decided to bundle these experiences and the lessons we have learned in an easy-to-read strategic guide on MSIs’, says van Huijstee.

The guide systematically addresses critical issues that have been identified by and for CSOs participating in MSIs, and includes a check list to help CSO practitioners in their MSI work. The guide also includes a chapter that explores the nature of MSIs more in depth, and an outlook on the future of MSIs. The guide concludes with a list of further resources that are considered useful for CSO practitioners.

Read or download the guide.

If you would like a printed copy of this guidebook, please send an e-mail to: info@somo.nl.