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3 July 2018

Stronger together: New HLPE report provides hands-on guide to multi-stakeholder partnerships

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) officially launched the 13th High Level Panel of Experts, HLPE report titled “Multi-stakeholder partnerships to finance and improve food security and nutrition in the framework of the 2030 Agenda” on the 27th of June, 2018. It focuses on the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSP) in achieving “Zero hunger” by 2030, the report contains guidelines and tools for better transparency, accountability and trust building. This HLPE report also suggests strategies for more efficient use of resources and ways to tap into new reserves.

Ambassador Mario Arvelo, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), opened the launch event by expressing that “CFS is currently undertaking its most ambitious project since it was created in 2004”. He also encouraged all the parties to “engage with the new HLPE report and lead the much-needed policy processes in the war against hunger.” More consistent and coherent efforts are needed to achieve zero hunger by 2030, larger and better targeted investments are of particular importance. CFS believes multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSP) can make the implementation of these improvements easier and assist in developing more impactful policy frameworks in general.

Transparency and accountability are key factors for successful multi-stakeholder partnerships, according to Patrick Caron, the Chair of the HLPE’s Steering Committee. The new HLPE report collects success stories of MSPs, providing hands-on strategies and tools for governments and non-state actors to learn from the existing examples.

Recommendations presented in HLPE reports are always based on the best available scientific evidence and are infused with knowledge from many experts across various sectors and disciplines. This time however, the process faced a specific challenge: while previous reports have covered well-explored and studied food security issues, MSPs have emerged as a focus of interest in the food security discourse only recently. This means the available evidence and data on MSPs are still fragmented and limited in time and scope. The analysis has to mainly rely on self-reported data or on partial views based on a limited set of cases.

For these reasons the 13th HLPE report does not provide a comprehensive analysis of all issues at stake, but rather clarifies the concepts and formulates main points of concern. Similarly, you won’t find a detailed and comprehensive assessment of all the existing MSPs, but rather suggested relevant criteria so that governments and non-state actors can perform their own assessments following a common methodology.

Main findings and recommendations

HLPE Project Team Leader, Moraka Makhura presented the main body of the report, which is divided into four chapters:

  1. Multi-stakeholder partnerships: Context and definitions
  2. Mapping Multi-stakeholder partnerships and their diversity
  3. Multi-stakeholder partnerships: potential benefits and limitations
  4. Pathways to improve the contribution of Multi-stakeholder partnerships to FSN

Mr. Makhura explained that the first chapter mainly deals with “financing for development”. According to the UN, an additional $US 2.5 trillion investment is required annually to implement the SDGs in low- and mid-income countries. However, Makhura pointed out that the integrative nature of the SDG framework can help create cross-sector synergies and, eventually, shrink the large financial gap, provided there is involvement of all stakeholders, including public and private investors from national and international levels.

The second chapter of the 13th HLPE report maps MSPs and their diversity by providing a set of description criteria. Although, multi-stakeholder partnerships are diverse, robust and flexible in design, one can classify them by thematic domain, geographical scope, structure and organization (composition, legal status, governance and representativeness) and by main functions and domains of interventions.

The third chapter recognizes and deals with potential benefits and limitations of MSPs. Some benefits may, for example, be sharing risks and responsibilities, building consensus and pooling complementary resources. Challenges include corruption, conflicts of interest among stakeholders, high transaction costs and reproduction of existing power asymmetries.

Another issue recognized in the report is their legitimacy and ways to distinguish whether an MSP works for a collective interest (a mutual interest shared by the MSP stakeholders), or for the public interest (the interest of the whole society, not only the stakeholders within a particular MSP), or both?

The fourth and last chapter of the report provides pathways to more effective performance of MSPs. It could be done through higher popular acceptance and accountability, by fostering synergies as well as by knowledge sharing and capacity building. The chapter also provides a six-step method on how to establish an MSP.

Muhammad Azeem Khan, HLPE Convener for the study, concluded the presentation of the 13th HLPE report by putting forward five main recommendations:

  1. Establish a policy framework to ensure that MSPs effectively contribute to the progressive realization of the right to adequate food.
  2. Improve mobilization, coordination and targeting of financing for FSN through MSPs.
  3. Strengthen transparency and accountability in MSPs through effective governance and management principles.
  4. Increase the impact of MSPs through effective monitoring, evaluation and experience sharing.
  5. Integrate different forms of knowledge and explore further areas of research on MSPs to finance and improve FSN.

Summary of the 13th HLPE report with recommendations can be found here.  You can also watch the CFS launch event here and read the full HLPE report here.

Note: The High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) was established in 2010 as the science-policy interface of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS). The HLPE aims to improve the robustness of policy making by providing independent, evidence-based analysis and advice at the request of CFS.