The evolution of global governance mechanisms reveals a number of responses from both state-based and new forms of actor. On the one hand, non-state actors (stakeholders) claim that they should be involved in global governance structures to provide legitimate and effective management of global public goods, and on the other hand, traditional governance mechanisms (states) claim to be more effective and efficient in representing their citizens' interests.
Multistakeholderism, an emergent element of the discourse surrounding global governance institutions, attempts to bridge the gap between these old and new forms of actor, namely private interests, state actors and (transnational) civil society. It is a contested subject: different actors perceive these multistakeholder institutions in different ways. This transformation in global governance is designed to make governance processes more effective and more legitimate, but can it do both at the same time? Is it even capable of achieving either objective? Academics and policy-makers have indeed argued that regional governance and inclusion of private actors and civil society in policy dialogues could help resolve or mitigate the ‘political trilemma’ by making global governance institutions more efficient and more legitimate.
There is a tendency to regionalise global discussions in what we term a ‘cascaded’ form of global governance. We are also witnessing this in the context of the United Nations (UN) and related organisations. As a large (and quite unmanageable) number of actors from below, across and beyond the state start to participate in negotiations that were traditionally managed solely by states, alternative representations of how the world should be ordered are emerging.