Effectiveness of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms

Speakers: Caroline Ashley, Yara / Ashley Insight; Sean DeCleene, AGRA; Ken Giller, Wageningen UR; Geoffery Kirenga, SAGCOT;

Platforms are difficult for all involved: time consuming, comfort zone challenging, and slow. What have we learnt about how to make them easier/smoother?

For all partners the opportunity costs of engaging in platforms are high. For companies there is a tension between wanting to go faster alone and the slow process of platforms.

Platforms function well when they:

  • have strong convening powers
  • are places for shared learning about risks and impacts
  • are successful at providing evidence to government about what works
  • can demonstrate both implementation “quick wins” and a bigger vision for what needs to happen for larger system changes
  • are capable of giving partners a unified message
  • can conduct research to feed forward into new innovation
  • create connectivity and shared learning with other platforms – often there is a high degree of overlap in participation

Platforms can get hung up when:

  • they lack the capacity to find the precompetitive agenda and reach consensus – especially when some partners are in competition and local business is often thinking in the short term.
  • the maturity level of the platform and expectations cycle do not match
  • there is no upfront alignment on expectations to build consensus – the timeline for moving from goals, priorities, and strategy, to impact are not clear
  • do not make explicit where there are areas of disagreement and what a platform can work on in a pre-competitive collaboration and what it can not.
  • fail to institutionalize the platform at every level – vision, goals, strategy, M&E, so that the platform is sustainable in the long run and can withstand political changes.
  • try to hold the tent for those who don’t want to be in the tent

Quote: Geoffery Kirenga, SAGCOT “Lean and mean organizations are hard to operationalize and ultimately will end up failing. Platforms have to build capacity in house first in order to deliver in the field – this period is called the valley of death with funders and partners who have expectations on results. Funding for platforms is usually just enough to initiate the process work. It takes time to build funding and strategy, start projects, establish a baseline, and do M&E.”


How do we take platforms to the next level of effectiveness?

  • coordination from within platforms to bring different sectors together – platforms need to become multi-sector, multi-partnership, multi-stakeholder.
  • build more trust between partners, especially with government by developing a mutual accountability framework so that everyone knows who does what
  • educate donors on how to match funding with platforms – platforms are not black and white and often have a hard time matching strategy and vision to donor agendas
  • platforms need to find ways to incorporate cross-cutting issues into a framework that includes larger agenda goals such as SDGs and COP21.
  • platforms still haven’t clearly demonstrated how they can support de-risking at the point of the farmer – the farmer is the bridge to the transformation
  • be clear with partners and have them sign contracts with project partners to be clear about what you they are going to do and what you are going to bring to the table

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