Strengthening Partnerships for Sustainable Development

The term "partnerships" can be defined as voluntary and collaborative relationships between two or more parties that work together to achieve a common purpose. Multi-stakeholder partnerships refer to institutionalized interactions between public and private actors jointly working towards a shared goal.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships will be a key driver for the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Harnessing the potential contribution of business, philanthropy, governments, non-governmental organizations, academia and others, will help countries increase the effectiveness of their existing and future development efforts. It will be vital to ensure that these multi-stakeholder initiatives deliver development results in a truly impactful manner.

Despite gains achieved in the Millennium Development Goals era in many areas, including income poverty, primary school enrolment and child mortality, poverty still remains rampant in many parts of the globe. It can be said that one of the pitfalls of the Millennium Development Goals was the lack of integration across sectors. Insufficient attention was given to what the impact of efforts to attain a goal in one sector could have on others. Achieving the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals will entail breaking down traditional silos so that integration across sectors is achieved. Multi-stakeholder partnerships now seek to leverage cross-sectoral approaches so as to enhance their effectiveness and impact.

Integrated partnership models have been slowly emerging during the past few years. New multi-stakeholder partnerships now being designed to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals should look closely at how targets under one goal might affect those under other goals or how individual targets could serve multiple goals. Partnerships should strive to enable greater integration and synergies across as many goals as possible.

Moreover, in order for multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve a more sustainable and transformative impact, there must be an attempt to bring coherence to the proliferation of partnership initiatives. It is no longer acceptable to simply declare that partnership initiatives contribute to achieving global development goals; a process of review and monitoring is needed to demonstrate in concrete terms how this is being accomplished and to ensure transparency and accountability of initiatives. Principles and guidelines should be put into place to guide effective monitoring and review.

At the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) annual Partnership Forum on 31 March 2016, thought leaders from the United Nations, civil society, including business, philanthropy, non-governmental organizations and academia, will join policy makers to come up with proposals for making partnerships more impactful. These will be crucial for driving the development agenda.

If we are to successfully eradicate poverty worldwide and achieve the sustainable development goals by the year 2030, bringing in new methods of work which include cutting-edge expertise and skills, as well as innovative ways of engaging stakeholders, will be key.