Multi-stakeholder initiatives in land use decision-making

Are Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives the solution to mainstream decision-making on land-use change? 

Lead reviewers: Anne Larson and Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti, CIFOR
Collaborating Institution: Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru

Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs), including related “forums” or “platforms,” have received much attention due their potential for participatory stakeholder agreements with outcomes that are more equitable and effective than those reached through mainstream top-down and/or unisectoral decision-making mechanisms. This attention has led to proposals by scholars and practitioners for MSIs to be the transformative solution to mainstream approaches to decision-making in sustainable forestry and land-use and climate change interventions.

However, the literature on MSIs has produced two marked camps with regards to their effectiveness and the equity of their outcomes. Whereas one side argues that they are the most democratic solution for stakeholder decision-making about activities that affect them, the other side denounces MSIs as a waste of resources that only serve to confirm mainstream governance and business practices, thus limiting opportunities for meaningful public debate. Additionally, most of the specialized literature examines global MSIs, without attending to these initiatives at the national and subnational levels.

Our Realist Synthesis Review of the available evidence on land-use change MSIs is framed by the pressing need to resolve this divide and systematically examine the equity and effectiveness outcomes of these interventions at national and subnational levels. Ultimately, we aim to define whether MSIs are an equitable and effective solution to mainstream decision-making on land-use change and identify how existing MSIs can be improved.

Funding Partners