Partnerships between public and non-state actors for the provision of collective goods have become important instruments for addressing core issues on the sustainable development agenda such as health, education, humanitarian issues, or clean energy. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasize the role of partnerships in the implementation of sustainability. Yet, while academic literature provides valuable insights on the rise of partnerships, we know considerably less about their variable effectiveness and impact. Do partnerships simply repackage existing practices with effect and accountability, or do they contribute new and additional instruments and sustainable development outcomes?
‘Effectiveness of Partnerships for Advancing the SDGs: Behavioural Pathways and Impacts‘ was a 3-year research project, funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) and coordinated by the Centre for International Environmental Studies at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, which drew on political science, economics, management studies and public policy to advance the study of partnerships effectiveness with respect to the SDGs. The main research questions guiding the project were: How can we conceptualise and operationalise the effectiveness for partnerships? Through what mechanisms are partnership effects likely to materialise? What are the sources and limitations of the effectiveness of partnerships for sustainability? How do partnership interact with other forms of governance at the international and subnational level to influence results for the SDGs?
The project, which ended in December 2020, contributed to scientific and practical progress by providing what is arguably the first inter-disciplinary, integrated and comparative approach and data on the effectiveness of partnerships for sustainable development. Its overarching objective was to develop a new research agenda, which is both of theoretical importance for understanding complex governance systems and of pressing policy significance for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed by the United Nations in September 2015.
The event explored the project’s findings on the impacts of sustainability partnerships and discussed some lessons that practitioners can learn as they seek to establish and implement effective public-private collaboration for the SDGs.
The Centre for International Environmental Studies of the Graduate Institute of Geneva has organised an online event to mark the formal end of the Effectiveness of Partnerships project, which has been hosted at the Centre since Fall 2017 with the support of the Swiss Network for International Studies.
On March 19-20, the Graduate Institute of Geneva will host the final workshop of the research project on ‘Effectiveness of Partnerships for Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals’.