Learning Lessons from multi-stakeholder initiatives

Photo © Yarik Turianskyi
Photo © Yarik Turianskyi

Some 2,000 representatives of civil society, government and the tech community from over 70 countries met in the beautiful and sunny capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, from 17 to 19 July to discuss progress in governmental transparency and accountability during the 5th Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit. It is worth reflecting on what this initiative is and what it and its counter-parts aim to achieve.

In the last decade, Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs) have opened a new, exciting dimension for civil society-government cooperation, in an attempt to solve key governance challenges. New approaches at collaboration include joint development of principles and goals, peer review and explicit involvement of civil society and private sector actors.

Three key initiatives epitomise these efforts: the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the OGP. Though each has its own unique characteristics, the dozens of countries and hundreds of civic organisations involved in these mechanisms have encountered similar sets of achievements and challenges. A great many lessons to be learned lie amid the granular search for solutions, implementation of pilot programmes, and annual events of these three high profile mechanisms.

SAIIA, along with its US partner, Democracy International (DI), has published a set of six papers that explore varied aspects of these initiatives and evaluate the successes and failures that have had, through a projected started at the end of 2016 called Accelerating Responsive and Transparent Extractive Industry Resource Governance (ARTEIG), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Despite their profile and duration, evidence of the effectiveness of these promising initiatives is relatively limited, and the ARTEIG project contributes to addressing this deficit. ARTEIG has collected information, documented lessons learned, and disseminated knowledge and experience related to MSIs. The project has been looking for best practices and evidence of impact with an eye towards supporting improved civic engagement in these and future such initiatives.