Assessing democratic representation in multi-stakeholder platform design. A the case of a EU-Chainsaw Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue Process in Ghana

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April, 2016
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There has been an increased advocacy across the globe for greater participation of stakeholders in the management of natural resources. In the forestry sector of Ghana, this is evident in the design and implementation of several multi-stakeholder platforms such as the National Forest Forum, Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue, and so on. The assertion is that grassroot involvement in decision-making will lead to more responsive policies and programmes, as well as improved governance in the sector. For multi-stakeholder dialogue to be democratic and effective, it has been advocated that representatives should be responsive and accountable to their constituents. This study examined how designers of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue process contemplated democratic representation. The study used qualitative techniques to enable detailed understanding of the discourse; contemplation and design of democratic representation processes in Ghana. The study used structured and semi-structured interviews, participant observation and desk study. Content analysis was used in the analysis of the data. The study, contrary to initial hypothesis, established that designers of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue process adequately contemplated democratic representation. However, the involvement of the grassroot in the decision making process was merely symbolic. The transaction cost of engaging the stakeholders at the lower level of the process was not catered for by the project, and therefore activities there were not facilitated by the organizers. Disorganized stakeholder groups impeded exchange of information between the platform and the participating stakeholder groups, thereby alienating the Grassroot from the engagement process. Even though the discourse shows there was symbolic democratic representation, in practice there was no substantive engagement of stakeholders especially at the lower level platforms.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Silviculture and Forest Management, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy (Silviculture and Forest Management),