The involvement of the key stakeholders in the process cannot be detached from having clarity on the overall objective. What decisions are at stake ultimately? A new regulation applying to an entire sector? Or to exported commodities in the context of a trade agreement? Are fiscal reforms or new tax measures in the scope of possible decisions? Whatever decisions are contemplated, it is key to ensure that the appropriate decision makers are sitting around the table.
Trust-building principle 2: Structure
The second important element for building trust in the process is one of structure, order and hierarchy. While every stakeholder group should be included in the process, differences in roles and attributions should be recognised and taken into account. Who is convening the actors? Who is chairing the stakeholder committee? Is there a neutral facilitator? Are the ultimate decision makers clearly identified and what role do they have in the process?
It is important that not only all relevant stakeholders are included in the committee but also that a government agency or supply chain organisation demonstrates leadership in the stakeholder committee.
Trust-building principle 3: Equity
The third trust-building principle is one of balance, fairness and equity in relationships. How can this process be mutually beneficial for all parties? What actions can be taken to ensure that benefits and efforts are shared equitably, taking into account differences in responsibilities and abilities?
The principle of equity also requires avoiding important asymmetries of information. The commitment to transparency and simplicity, both on data and methods, is essential. Members of the stakeholder committee should have similar access to, and understanding of, the data and information used in the process.
Great data and methods will not help much if people are suspicious about the entire endeavour. But trust built in a well facilitated process can unlock their full potential.