The democratic quality of private multi-stakeholder governance is an important subject of academic and political debate. On the one hand, private multi-stakeholder arrangements are seen as a way of democratizing international environmental governance. On the other hand, the democratic potential of these arrangements has been heavily criticized and interpreted as a privatization of what should be public. To nuance this debate, this paper assesses the democratic potential of one specific type of arrangement: Roundtables. These Roundtables are presented as being based on a deliberative democratic rationale. This paper therefore assesses the deliberative capacity of the Roundtables on Responsible Soy and Sustainable Palm Oil and shows to what extent the communicative processes in these Roundtables are inclusive, consequential and authentic. This paper concludes that the Roundtable model tends to fall short on two criteria of deliberative democracy: inclusiveness (of actors and discourses) and consequentiality.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for funding this research.