A multi-stakeholder partnership (MSP) is a type of cooperation with the following four features: Stakeholders from at least three areas (civil society, private sector, public sector, academia) work together as equals through an organized, and long-term engagement in order to contribute to the common good.
In a multi-stakeholder partnership, partners from at least three of the following sectors are involved: the public sector, civil society, the private sector and academia.
Partners have knowledge and experience that can help the others further their work. In a partnership, they can share their knowledge, resources, technologies, networks and much more. Partners can thereby achieve their common goal, while also individually benefiting from the collaboration.
Multi-stakeholder partnerships go beyond ad hoc consultations or brief, sporadic dialogues. Long-term engagement and a certain degree of institutionalization and independence are required to tackle the complex challenges that a multi-stakeholder partnership is seeking to address.
All partners are involved on an equal footing in the multi-stakeholder partnership’s work. This covers a broad spectrum of types of participation, from mere consultation to joint decision-making, thereby allowing each group to contribute its positions and viewpoints to the partnership’s goals and results.
Multi-stakeholder partnerships aim to solve complex social challenges such as climate change, poverty or migration. Working together to overcome these challenges is necessary, as they affect society as a whole and exceed the ability of any individual actor to solve on their own. This is why multi-stakeholder partnerships are important for achieving sustainable development.
This is the definition of Partnerships2030. There is no standardised and universally valid definition that is accepted and used by all relevant stakeholders. Many organisations have their own definitions, which slightly differ in certain regards. The MSP definition of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) can be used as a further example of this.
MSPs explained in two minutes
What distinguishes an MSP from other types of cooperation?
Depending on the intensity of involvement of different actors and the formalization of partnership structures, different types of partnerships can be distinguished and located along a spectrum. There are different names for the categories used and the transitions are fluid.