As stated in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 “Partnerships to Achieve the Goals” of the 2030 Agenda, current global challenges such as limiting climate change, biodiversity loss and the pollution crisis cannot be tackled by individual actors alone. It requires partnerships in which actors from the public sector, civil society, the private sector, and academia work towards a common goal.
Multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) bring together actors from different parts of society. Each stakeholder group contributes their specific resources, perspectives, and expertise to the achievement of the common goal.
In their role as advocacy groups, civil society actors are essential for MSPs and make important contributions to the content and direction of partnerships. Certain interests and needs are otherwise hardly represented without civil society actors – e.g. regarding the environment and nature. In addition, new perspectives can be highlighted and the pressure on companies to take on more responsibility and become more involved in sustainable business practices can be increased. Often, civil society actors initially also represent the interests of marginalized groups. Marginalized groups can ideally benefit from this boost and will participate themselves during the lifecycle of an MSP.
In addition to representing their own interests, civil society actors can benefit from being members of an MSP by strengthening their ability to work with other actors. Especially small or local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can often achieve their goals more effectively, also in the implementation of other projects. At the same time, membership in an MSP, in which actors cooperate with each other on an equal footing, gives civil society actors the opportunity to achieve greater visibility and to participate in agenda setting. In addition, membership in an MSP enables the establishment or expansion of networks and the sharing of resources, knowledge, and technologies.
Example: the NGO BOS in the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil
The organization Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Deutschland e.V. is a member of the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil. BOS Germany is committed to the survival of the Borneo orangutan, which is threatened by unsustainable oil palm cultivation, among other things. BOS is involved in the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil because of the conviction that more sustainability in the palm oil sector can be achieved through the cooperation of all stakeholders involved. BOS aims to raise awareness of the need for orangutan protection in oil palm plantations and to contribute to the inclusion of effective biodiversity protection in the principles and criteria for sustainable palm oil cultivation. Membership in the Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil allows BOS to make the voice of orangutans heard in corporate and government circles, while also learning from the stakeholder groups represented in the Forum.