Promoting multi-stakeholder ownership in Swedish development cooperation
This study has been commissioned by Swedish Expert Group for Aid Studies (Expertgruppen för Bistandsanalys EBA). It aims at understanding how, in a changing world and under new conditions and directions of international cooperation, multi-stakeholder ownership matters for development cooperation and aid effectiveness, how Swedish development cooperation is currently promoting ownership in partner countries and how it may do so more effectively.
Ownership has been an important programmatic aspect of development cooperation for dec-ades. It refers to the participation of partner countries in defining the goals and means of development and to the control over and responsibility for processes leading to these, including planning and programming, implementation etc. This is not only considered a form of partner countries’ autonomy but also an essential condition for the effectiveness and sustainability of developmental interventions. Without ownership, these are expected to lack legitimacy, political support and compatibility with local needs and conditions.
Until recently, ownership has been conceived of in terms of the relationship between donors and partner countries’ governments. Nowadays, the concept of multi-stakeholder ownership is gaining importance, also in consideration of changes in the field of development cooperation, including for instance the fact that the diversity of actors who demand a say in cooperation endeavours and whose involvement is deemed relevant for success has increased considerably. Moreover, the goals of development cooperation – as defined e.g. in the Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals – have become more global and more complex, demanding cooperation across borders, sectors and levels. At the same time, recent developments such as the tendency in various countries to restrict civil society’s space for critique and participation make the promotion of broad ownership seem ever more important.
It is far from clear how specifically ownership supports aid effectiveness and how it can be promoted under today’s changing conditions of development cooperation and the increasing diversity of actors, goals and instruments. The study provides a systematic overview on the state of knowledge in both development research and practice. Based on this, it develops a coherent framework for understanding and researching multi-stakeholder ownership in development cooperation. Against this background it scrutinises in detail how Swedish development cooperation and its framework, strategies, procedures and portfolio currently promote multi-stakeholder ownership and which possibilities there are to improve on this.