Sub-principle 3.A

Support and participate in inclusive dialogue and consultation


Why is this important?


Regular dialogue and targeted consultations are critically important for building trust, leveraging the comparative strengths of all key parties, and enhancing the legitimacy and effectiveness of private sector engagement (PSE) projects and policies. Engaging with relevant public, civil society and private actors in inclusive dialogue, including at the community level where appropriate, can also contribute to devising socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable business practices. This requires including and enabling actors and beneficiaries who are not regularly engaged in structured dialogue and setting dialogue up in ways that it can enable inclusive outcomes. While it is incumbent on partner countries to organise regular consultative processes at the national level, development partners play an essential role in supporting and participating in such opportunities to generate broad buy-in from all relevant stakeholders.

Self-reflection questions
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Policy Level Project Level
  • Does your government or organisation commit to participate in and support country-led dialogues in its PSE strategy and development co-operation agreements with partner countries? 
  • Does your PSE strategy foresee support to public-private dialogue (PPD) processes at home and in partner countries? Do you play a strategic role in acting as a broker for PPD? What resources do you mobilise to support capacity development for PPD? 
  • Do you engage in other dialogue platforms to discuss priorities and challenges encountered in PSE (e.g. at the Development Assistance Committee, the United Nations, the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development, bilaterally)? Are these dialogues and processes open to non-state actors?
  • Do you provide capacity support to partner country ministries and agencies to engage in dialogue with donors, the private sector and other actors? Is support also offered to local MSMEs and civil society organisations which may lack capacities?
  • Prior to initiating a project (particularly in fragile contexts), have you encouraged and supported inclusive dialogue to secure space for the expression of diverging interests, build trust and foster local ownership of the project?
  • Do you encourage community-level dialogues that provide space for local stakeholders (e.g. beneficiaries, local CSOs) and thereby help discover a project’s potential impacts on a community?
  • Do you consider ongoing and regular consultations throughout project life cycles?
  • Do existing dialogues and consultations oversee progress and challenges related to the project’s implementation? Do they have the needed authority and space to propose course corrections in a frank and open environment? 

Actions to consider
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Policy Level Project Level
  • Develop guidelines as part of a PSE strategy to support inclusive dialogue at the national level, e.g. outlining how to include relevant stakeholders, ensure their representation (particularly “weaker” local-level actors), and foster the availability of project information and transparency of communication.
  • Champion inclusiveness of dialogues – national, thematic and project-specific – by highlighting its relevance for acquiring and generating legitimacy and local buy-in. 
  • Foster horizontal and vertical linkages in your own and partner country-led dialogues. This helps to surface issues raised at the local or project level at a higher policy level.
  • Support governments in devising clear and actionable agendas for dialogue and ensure a balance in participation among all key actors.
  • Involve local business associations, CSOs and trade unions, as well as local governments to ensure that adequate weight is given to smaller stakeholders’ point of view.
  • Build on existing platforms for dialogue and consultations to discuss PSE activities at policy and project level.
  • Seek the beneficiary voice when designing and implementing PSE projects and convey the importance of listening to local perspectives to other project partners. This enhances the legitimacy and impact of projects, and helps build constructive dialogue between governmental, private and civil society actors. 
  • Ensure a tailored and needs-based approach for engaging in multi-stakeholder dialogue with national, regional, local and sub-local governmental and private and civic partners, recognising that each has different skills, capacities and motivations. For instance, large infrastructure projects will require extensive consultations, while smaller projects that target MSMEs micro, small and medium-sized enterprises may require more limited consultations.
  • Consider serving as mediator or approaching an impartial third party to mediate in case of particularly thorny challenges, notably if priorities are fundamentally misaligned. 
  • Establish an open, independent complaint mechanism to address grievances. 

Pitfalls to avoid
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Policy Level Project Level


  • Include too many perspectives with no clear agenda or follow-up process. 
  • Let consultations turn into “talk shops”, where there is much debate, but little concrete and/or substantive action. This can be particularly off-putting for private sector actors, many of whom demand specificity and relevance in their dialogue engagements.


  • Impose your own agenda in inclusive dialogues and consultations on PSE projects without providing space and opportunity for other stakeholders to co-design the agenda and voice their concerns or interests. 
  • Apply a one-size-fits-all approach to PPD over a tailored approach to inclusive dialogues depending on the project that is being pursued.


Multi-stakeholder platforms can serve as important vehicles towards developing guidelines and good practice for public-private dialogue within the context of private sector partnerships for development co-operation. For instance, the World Bank Group, the Confederation of Danish Industry, the Danish Ministry of External Affairs, and 200 participants from over 50 countries established the Charter of Good Practice in Using Public-Private Dialogue For Private Sector Development and Inclusive Growth. This charter highlights a number of key principles and guidance that can be used to produce legitimate and effective inclusive dialogue processes towards equitable PSE outcomes.

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