It’s always exciting to see our ideas bear fruit, especially when they help shape the latest global development thinking. A recent study titled “Multi-stakeholder initiatives for Sustainable Development Goals: The importance of interlocutors” features GDI’s landmark research on when multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) are the right solution to a given global development challenge, and how to design and launch them most effectively.
The study, authored by professors Alan Fowler from University of Wits in South Africa and Kees Biekart from Erasmus University in Holland, draws on 17 MSI case studies across 4 countries to argue that:
  • MSIs in the age of the SDGs require a unique type of host they call “an interlocutor,” which plays the facilitation role for MSIs – the interlocutor “recognizes and reconciles the numerous power asymmetries involved in pursuing collaboration towards the creation of public goods.”
  • Playing this role well requires strength in seven attributes: leadership and conflict management, trustworthiness and trust building, system sensitivity, governance awareness, long haul commitment, polyglot communication, and sovereignty.
  • The importance of these attributes varies over time as an MSI progresses – but the interlocutor’s overall significance increases as MSIs unfold
  • Investing in interlocutors will be critical for achieving the SDGs
Of course, we like to think the authors would recognize GDI as an excellent example of an interlocutor…but really, it’s thrilling just to see other leading development thinkers join the call for developing a discipline around MSIs when they have such enormous potential to drive sustainable development.

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