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Using stakeholder and power analysis and BCPs in multi-stakeholder processes (PLA 65)

Multi-stakeholder processes (MSPs) advocates often argue that, because of the interdependence of stakeholders in solving complex issues, MSPs create trust-based relations that enable the empowered and active participation of all stakeholders. However, the distribution of power, capacity and resources is generally imbalanced.

Power differences are embedded in the social fabric of society and can be reproduced, or even reinforced, in an MSP. Even if participants are willing to engage in dialogue on an equal basis,there are still differences in the level of experience, access to resources and information. Failure to recognise power dynamics can prevent the joint learning and innovative solutions which one would expect as outcomes of a good MSP, and the result will not reflect the interests and needs of less powerful stakeholders, often those representing the grassroots.

The authors discuss how local action researchers are supporting communities to analyse power in MSPs so that they can learn how to engage effectively with and influence processes that involve more powerful actors. They outline some of the tools which can be used in this analysis, using an example from Lamu, Kenya.

This article appears in the Tips for Trainers section of Participatory Learning and Action 65 on Biodiversity and culture: exploring community protocols, rights and consent.

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