Transformation from Conflict to Collaboration through Multistakeholder Process: Shihwa sustainable Development Committee in Korea
Multi-Stakeholder Process (MSP) is a very sophisticated and complex process where many diverse stakeholder representatives deliberate and negotiate to solve public problems together. While MSPs have been suggested as good governance mechanism in both developed and developing countries, its ideals still obscure than clarify. It is not clear how a MSP can be initiated given power imbalance and lack of trust in a society. It is more challenging for the members of the process to manage complex, volatile, and conflicting situations that are inherent in multiparty negotiations.
The Si-Hwa case in Korea provides many interesting implications as a relatively successful multi-stakeholder process aimed at balancing development and environment around regional development plans. A long-term multi-stakeholder forum (2003-current) involving the government bodies (central and local), state-owned corporations, local politicians, non-governmental organizations has made collective decisions regarding environmental management and regional development projects, and transformed the almost dead Si-Hwa Lake into a lively lake.
The process could be successful mainly because people could transform conflicting countervailing powers into collaborative countervailing ones before and during the process. The sources of collaborative powers are the will of the government to incorporate stakeholder participation due to its poor BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), bottom-up initiative from local NGOs, detaching themselves from central NGOs. They have built trust by making the process transparent through its own webpage, establishing consensus-based decision rule, and conducted joint fact-finding process. More interestingly, the members managed the complex process without any help of professional neutrals.
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