MSP Guidance

Guidance handbooks, tools and other resources
for developing and implementing high-quality multi-stakeholder processes

An increasing number of handbooks, how-to-guides, tools and collections of examples are available providing guidance for developing, implementing and evaluating multi-stakeholder processes. Below is a selection of the best and most popular of such materials, most of which can be found on the internet, and many free of charge.

Hemmati, M. (with contributions from F Dodds, J Enayati and J McHarry) 2002. Multi-stakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability – Beyond Deadlock and Conflict. London: Earthscan

This book provides guidance for MSP designers, brokers, facilitators and coaches, as well as policy processes and institutions dealing with multi-stakeholder participation and partnerships., grounding recommendations in analyses of values, experience and science.

Chapter 7, “Designing MSPs: A Detailed Guide” provides general considerations and detailed guidance for key elements that are largely also mirroring typical phases of MSPs (s. flow diagram on p. 211), namely:

  • Context: process design; linkages to decision-making; issue identification; stakeholder identification; facilitation back-up; funding
  • Framing: group composition; goals; agenda
  • Inputs: stakeholder preparations; agreed rules and procedures; power gaps; capacity-building
  • Dialogue / meetings: communication channels; facilitation / chairing; rapporteuring; decision-making (*); closure
  • Outputs: documentation; action plan implementation (*); ongoing MS processes; impact official decision-making (*)
  • and guidance for aspects that are relevant throughout the process: meta-communication; relating to non-participating stakeholders; relating to the general public
    (* optional)
    Chapter 8, “The Short-cut” gives a brief summary of “Principles of Stakeholder Participation and Partnership” where key principles are listed along some brief notes about strategies that can help put these principles into practice. The chapter also provides a practical “Checklist For MSP Designers”. It is a list of key points that need to be addressed when designing multi-stakeholder processes. Not all processes need to include all of these components but they are suggested for consideration in order to gain clarity and not overlook necessary activities.

Brouwer H., and J. Woodhill, with M. Hemmati, K. Verhoosel & S. van Vugt) et al. 2015. The MSP Guide How to Design and Facilitate Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships. CDI: Wageningen / Practical Action

This seminal guide offers a practical framework for designing and facilitating collaborative processes that work across the boundaries of business, government, civil society and science, supporting those who are involved with MSPs as stakeholders, leaders, facilitators or funders. The guide discusses conceptual foundations and practical tools, including a clear four phase process model, a set of seven core principles, key ideas for facilitation, references to 60 participatory tools for analysis, planning and decision making, and many practical examples from around the world. It draws on science, experience, expertise as well as training materials used at the Centre of Development Innovation (CDI), at Wageningen University & Research Centre. CDI also maintains a web portal on MSPsat offering information, materials, links and other useful resources as well as a platform for exchange among practitioners.


Brouwer H. and J. Brouwers 2017. The MSP Tool Guide. Sixty Tools to Facilitate Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships. CDI Wageningen

This compilation of 60 tools is a companion to The MSP Guide, the Wageningen University & Research CDI resource on how to design and facilitate effective multi-stakeholder partnerships. The MSP Guide is also available in French. Free download at


Partnerships2030 – promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development: The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) commissioned Partnerships2030, a platform for promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships and supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Partnerships2030 strengthens existing multi-stakeholder partnerships, launches new initiatives and provides information on all partnership matters.
Studies and manuals in the Platform’s MSP Libraryinclude guidance for first steps, working with stakeholders and their networks, developingpartnering agreements, institutionalizing partnerships, conducting impact assessments, and more:

EcoAgriculture Partners is a catalyst, pursuing a multi-pronged approach to make an impact at the landscape, national, regional and international level and working to mainstream integrated landscape management around the world. EcoAgriculture Partners also works on creating partnerships for action and advocacy, and it serves as the secretariat for the Landscapes for People Food and Nature Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative with partners from governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society organizations and business initiatives.
Tools, manuals and guidance literaturefor sustainable landscape management includes:

De Graaf, M. et al. 2017. Assessing Landscape Governance: a participatory approach. Trobenbos International & EcoAgriculture Partners

Heiner, K. et al. 2017: Public-private-civic partnerships for sustainable landscapes. A Practical Guide for Conveners. IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative& EcoAgriculture Partners

Kusters, K. et al, 2016. Guidelines – Participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation of multi-stakeholder platforms in integrated landscape initiatives. Working Paper


The Partnering Initiative (TPI) builds country-level platforms to catalyse partnerships ;undertakes action research; develops individual and organisational partnering capacity; and directly supports partnerships around the world. The website offers information and tools for professional development, support services, resources, etc.
Tennyson R., 2011. The Partnering Toolbook. An essential guide to cross-sector partnering. The Partnering Initiative (IBLF)

The Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC) is a (virtual) network of professionals, academics and practitioners around the world that share and collect information on selecting appropriate partnerships and increasing their efficiency, impact and effectiveness.
The Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC) is a specialist research centre at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. It connects scientifically sound research and practitioner experience of cross-sector partnerships to aid sustainable and inclusive development.

Partnership Brokers Association – an international professional body for those managing and developing collaboration processes; providing tools, publications, networking events, etc.


Partnerships in Practice (PiP) provides advisory, research and training services to strengthen partnership approaches for sustainable development.


MSI IntegrityThe Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to understanding the human rights impact and value of voluntary multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) that address business and human rights. MSI Integrity researches key questions surrounding the effectiveness of MSIs, facilitates learning and capacity building in the field, and develops tools to evaluate initiatives from a human rights perspective, focusing in particular interest on how MSIs include, empower, and impact affected communities.

MSI Integrity & International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, 2017. MSI Evaluation Tool, v.1.0 (2017)

CIVICUS: The global alliance of civil society organisations and activists is dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world.
It also provides guidance and toolkits for all areas of civil society organisations’ work, including dialogue and partnerships. For example:

CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation 2015. Towards New Social Contracts: Using Dialogue Processes to Promote Social Change. (M Hemmati, F Rogers). Johannesburg (in English, Français, Espanol, Arabic)

CIVICUS & International Civil Society Centre, 2014. Partnership Principles. For cooperation between local, national and international civil society organisations. CIVICUS & ICSC

PEP Promoting Effective Partnering: The PEP Facility, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs as co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Cooperation, committed to building the quality and effectiveness of partnering efforts worldwide.
PEP seeks to facilitate better access to proven partnering knowledge and expertise, and to identify gaps where such knowledge and expertise does not yet exist.
The website provides reports, case studies, tools, trainings, blogs, and more meant to support all those who work in and with partnerships. PEP has also identified “17 factors for 17 goals” to guide effective partnering to deliver the SDGs.

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Participatory Methods website provides resources to generate ideas and action for inclusive development and social change. It explains participatory methods – from programme design to citizen engagement – ,their use, problems and potentials.

The Consensus Building Institute (CBI) is a not-for-profit organization founded by leading practitioners and theory builders in the fields of negotiation and dispute resolution. They engage in research and teaching, and offer tools for analysis, design and facilitation.

The Community Development Resource Association (CDRA) is an non-governmental African organisationadvancing learning about development processes and intervention. The site offers resources, information on programmes and courses, etc.

The Collective Leadership Institute is an internationally operating non-profit organisation with focus on educational programs in the area of Leadership and Stakeholder Dialogues.
Guidance literature includes:
Kuenkel, P. et al. 2016. Working with Stakeholder Dialogues: Key Concepts and Competencies for Achieving Common Goals – a practical guide for change agents from public sector, private sector, and civil society.

The International Association of Facilitators was created by a group of professionals in order to have an avenue for exchange, professional development, trend analysis and peer networking. It has over 1200 members in 60+ countries. There is a specific methods database at that can be searched by purpose and group size, and offers brief descriptions, how-to’s and materials on over 560 methods of working with small and large groups. Many of them are useful for different phases and challenges in MSPs, helping to build trust, enhance creativity and problem solving, increase ownership and improve implementation of agreements.

The National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) “is a network of innovators who bring people together across divides to discuss, decide and act together on today’s toughest challenges”. It is a gathering place, a resource center, a news source and a facilitative leader for this community of practice. The website offers resources, access to networks of dialogue practitioners, information about events, and news.