Multi-Stakeholder Engagement for Sustainable Development

by Augusto Cuginotti

This is the first draft conclusion of a paper around this topic.

Multi-Stakeholder Engagement for

Sustainable Development

Synergies Between Appreciative Inquiry and the Natural Step Framework

Sustainability issues and current complex business environment require that companies consider the relationship with stakeholders at the strategic level. This relationship means a process of engagement in strategy design in order to create value for shareholders and stakeholders alike. Appreciative Inquiry has shown the characteristics of an organizational development intervention that is based on action research and participation. For sustainable development, the support of the framework developed by The Natural Step shows its complementarities.

The Natural Step complements the intervention with Appreciative Inquiry by ensuring that the broad natural and social issues are taken into account while designing, and that a robust systematic guide can be used while action planning. The use of Appreciative Inquiry complements The Natural Step’s process of backcasting by its strength-based approach, where the dream and design phases are sustained by identified powerful stories and achievements from the organization and its stakeholders.

The systems perspective taken by both approaches assure that stakeholders collective define the design principles, key elements for innovation and engaged action, and look at the broader social and natural principles that represent the boundaries of a sustainable future. Multi-stakeholder engagement for sustainable development works at its best when the combination of both principles and the social learning process around planning itself happens. The use of the integral approach Appreciative Inquiry – The Natural Step can deliver that.