Building effective networks
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Building effective networks. In this session. Consider the value of building networks with NGOs and other stakeholders. Learn how to develop effective networks. Why network? Strategic choices: pros and cons of networking Multi-stakeholder networks When to network?

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In this session
In this session

Consider the value of building networks with NGOs and other stakeholders. Learn how to develop effective networks.

  • Why network?

  • Strategic choices: pros and cons of networking

  • Multi-stakeholder networks

  • When to network?

  • Establishing and operating networks

  • Existing MEA-related networks

Why build network
Why build network?

Building networking with other NGOs and stakeholders offers a range of advantages, such as:

  • Sharing information

  • Developing shared policy positions

  • Gaining perspective

  • Credibility (a.k.a. strength in numbers)

  • Pooling resources in negotiations

  • Pooling resources in implementation

  • Capacity building

  • Improved leverage and communication with official processes

Building effective networks

Strategic choices: pros and cons of networking

From your own experience working with networks,* what are the pros and cons? How did you maximise the advantages and minimise the disadvantages of networking?

*You may have valuable insights from working with all kinds of groups to develop and achieve shared objectives, for example groups in your community or workplace.

Multi stakeholder networks
Multi-stakeholder networks

  • A growing trend is to develop networks that include all kinds of non-governmental stakeholders.

  • The extent of differences between stakeholders can have a significant impact on how the network operates, for example whether it focuses on developing common positions, or simply on facilitating access so that a range of positions can be presented.

Establishing and operating networks
Establishing and operating networks

Principles of effective partnership:

1. mutuality

2. clearly defined expectations, rights and responsibilities

3. accountability and transparency

underpinned by:

trust – respect – integrity – credibility – ownership

Establishing and operating networks1
Establishing and operating networks

Checklist: some key steps in establishing an MEA-related network

  • Identify your own objectives. What do you want to achieve? How could networking assist this?

  • Identify potential network partners.

  • Organise a meeting or discussion with potential network partners to identify common objectives and how you might work together.

  • Pay as much attention to the questions of how as to the questions of what.

  • Prepare early.

  • Recognize what you can and cannot achieve through a network approach, and channel your efforts accordingly.

When to network
When to network?

The 11 months leading up to a meeting are when most of the work needs to be done. A network pre-meeting in the weekend leading up to an intergovernmental meeting should be a strategic session to address:

  • Latest information updates

  • Review of priorities and game-plan for the meeting: allocating tasks, agreeing processes

  • Training for new participants


  • Networking with other NGOs and stakeholders offers a range of benefits, including:

  • sharing information and resources

  • developing shared policy positions

  • gaining new perspectives

  • establishing credibility and leverage with official processes

  • capacity building


  • Networking can also have disadvantages, particularly around the amount of time and effort they can require to be effective.

  • Multi-stakeholder networks are a growing trend. The degree of difference between stakeholders can shape the nature of the network – whether for information, logistical support or developing common policy platforms.

  • Effective networking takes time, and is best started well in advance of MEA meetings. This is particularly the case if you plan to develop common policy positions – not something that can be done well the weekend before the meeting starts.


  • In establishing or operating a network or coalition, it is important to ensure a sense of mutuality, clearly define expectations, rights and responsibilities, and agree accountabilities and responsibilities.

  • Take time to reflect on the objectives and structure of your networks. The appropriate level of definition will depend on your objectives for the network, the range of stakeholders involved, the level of consensus needs, and the accountabilities involved.

  • A number of international, issue-based NGO networks are relevant to the MEAs discussed in this manual. Depending on your objectives, they are well worth tapping into.