Public sector actors express rising interest in multi-stakeholder initiatives as a means of expanding private sector contributions to address sustainable development goals. Private sector interests in participating in such initiatives have however received limited attention. This article examines business motives for associating with global multi-stakeholder initiatives by analyzing corporate engagement with the Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform of the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative. The analysis of the characteristics of participating firms highlights that the platform has mainly attracted companies based in Europe and those with a broad geographical reach. The article identifies clear economic rationales for companies to participate. The analysis emphasizes that indirect gains to firms through activities designed to shape the market for the uptake of energy efficient technologies and direct gains related to connecting with potential customers through networking activities are key motives for business participation. This case indicates that multi-stakeholder initiatives can provide a platform for transforming markets by facilitating interactions between private sector actors and national and subnational governments.
- Private sector outreach activities can emphasize the unique roles of governmental actors in supporting changes in policy frameworks and in facilitating contacts to relevant governmental actors.
- UN conveners should consider expanding the geographical scope of outreach with business.
- Conveners should recognize that the prospect of direct and exclusive returns from participation are not the only motive for firm participation as firms are willing to contribute to market development goals that benefit competitors as well as themselves.
- Initiative conveners should clarify how to achieve a balance between the benefits that corporations reap from the initiatives and the resources that firms invest in supporting governmental facilitation functions.