Building trust through joint research

To this end, the phase is built around a series of focus groups, collective mappings and participatory assessments of both the policy landscape and the policy players that have either a say or a stake in the policy area under discussion. Each new round of collective mapping brings more clarity about the challenges and opportunities for policy reform, as it allows the stakeholders to jointly validate the key issues and to assess whether there is a window of opportunity for achieving consensus on what needs to change.
The quality of the Collective Assessment Phase will influence the full process, as it will likely define the way the stakeholders work with and relate to each other in achieving joint commitments. Therefore, throughout this crucial phase, the Dialogue Host must work to lay the foundation for the dialogue to be inclusive and allow for real participation. Right from the onset, it must ensure that no key stakeholder is left aside, while working actively so that those taking part in the dialogue recognise each other as legitimate interlocutors.
Mutual recognition is intricately and intrinsically linked to trust. Indeed, starting the dialogue process with a collective assessment that requires participants to jointly define the main needs and priorities to be tackled, as well as the ways of working together for the remainder of the process, is likely to create an environment conducive to trust among participants and to increase their ownership over what may result from it.