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Partner think piece

Contact
Mr. Ola Goransson, Sustainable Development Officer, Project Coordinator 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator, Divison for SDGs, UN DESA (goranssono@un.org)

The 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator is a collaborative initiative by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and The Partnering Initiative, in collaboration with United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP), UN Global Compact, and the UN Development Coordination Office. The initiative aims to significantly help accelerate and scale up effective partnerships in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Direct partnership training support and advisory service is offered to member States, UN entities/Resident Coordinators/country teams and other stakeholders wishing to develop new partnership platforms and partnerships.

The objectives of the Partnership Accelerator include:
  • Support effective country driven partnership platforms for SDGs - Research and direct support of effective multi-stakeholder partnership platforms and mechanisms for engaging business and other stakeholders, and catalyzing partnerships for the SDGs at national and global level, drawing out best practices and guidance, to assist optimizing emerging platforms, and supporting new generation of UN Resident Coordinators and country teams.

  • Building partnership skills and competencies - Build capacity of relevant stakeholders to develop and implement partnerships for the SDGs, and to support organizations to develop their policy and strategy, systems and processes, legal agreements and culture to support collaboration.

Funding and support
Ireland
Through generous funding support from the Government of Ireland, the Partnership Accelerator is developing partnership training material focusing on the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) specific context. The material will be used in national partnership workshops in Small Island Developing States.

Ireland is also supporting analytical work for upcoming workshops in Maldives and Samoa, to ensure adaptation to their national specific context.

Italy
In support of the high-level meeting to review progress, gaps and challenges on the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway in 2019, Italy supported a project for strengthening the capacity of Small Island Developing States in monitoring and developing durable partnerships.

As a continuation of the project, the Government of Italy is generously funding the Partnership Accelerator programme to allow for building national partnership capacity in a few additional SIDS.

United Nations Office for Sustainable Development
The United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD), a part of the Division for Sustainable Development Goals of UN DESA, has provided human resources and financial contributions to the initial phase of Partnership Accelerator project through generous funding from the Republic of Korea. UNOSD supports UN Member States in planning and implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, through knowledge sharing, research and advisory services, capacity building and partnerships.
Events
Partnerships against COVID-19 - building back better together to advance the 2030 Agenda, 7 July 2020, New York (Virtually)
To advise the work of the 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator and ensure that it can be impactful in the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the side event will explore how partnerships can help assist in particular developing countries to address the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath and promote synergies between key sectors, including the scientific and technological community and the private sector.

More information

Developing transformational partnerships to catalyze SDGs implementation, 7 July 2020, New York (Virtually)
The objective of the training is to provide an introduction to how multi-stakeholder partnerships can facilitate system transformation through the use of a specific example. It will examine how the SDGs, specifically SDG 4, 16 and 17, exist within complex systems and partnerships and leveraging various aspects of those systems are required to transform them in a positive way. The training will focus on the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) levers of Governance and Individual and Collective Action to achieve human well-being and capabilities as an entry point to transformation – by introducing an innovative approach to system mapping and identifying specific action pathways required to transform the system. The training will specifically look at transformation of the Rule of Law (SDG 16) as essential to achieving the SDGs overall, how this exists with a complex system requiring multi-stakeholder partnerships (SDG 17) to address it and education (SDG 4) as a fundamental aspect of this transformation.

More information

VNR Lab - Beyond the Voluntary National Reviews: mobilizing support and building national partnerships, 14 July 2020, New York (Virtually)
The VNR Lab on "Beyond the VNRs: mobilizing support and building national partnerships" will explore and showcase practices on how countries can systematically catalyze national multi-stakeholder partnerships for mobilizing and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support implementation of the SDGs, including through their VNR process. The Lab will also explore how countries can help creating an enabling environment that may encourage and foster collaboration across stakeholders.

More information

Designing and managing SDG partnerships for greatest impact, 15 July 2019, New York
On 15 July 2019, the Accelerator programme (through DSDG and TPI) organized an SDG Learning and Training session during the 2019 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The session, entitled “Designing and managing SDG partnerships for greatest impact”, consisted of four sections covering designing and managing individual partnerships for greatest impact towards the SDGs, designing the collaborative approach of national level SDG focused partnership coalitions, and managing partnerships for greatest impact.

About 80 representatives from member States, UN system and other stakeholders participated in the event.

More information

Launch of the 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator, 11 April 2019, New York
The 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator was launched during a side event at UN Headquarters on 11 April 2019. Several activities of the Accelerator have been implemented during its first year, in accordance with its project plan.

More information
Partnerships against COVID-19 - Building back better, together
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has underscored the importance of enhancing global collaboration and effective partnerships among all sectors and stakeholders, while building back better, together.

Today’s societies are highly interconnected; we are all part of one global interdependent system, where the sharing of ideas, information, knowledge, and movement people and of goods, are truly boundless. This interconnectedness is also the basis for our global economy, and as any system, the health of all parts is crucial.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Group has recently launched a coherent framework for UN’s urgent socio-economic support to countries and societies in the face of COVID-19, putting in practice Secretary-General’s report on “Shared responsibility, global solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 ”. Moving beyond the initial response phase, the UN Secretary-General underlines the need for the world to “recover better” and that any recovery strategy should ensure that the we collectively remain on track towards the longer-term objectives outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of our societies, posing an unprecedented challenge to all countries and all peoples, and in particular putting those farthest behind at even greater risk. Slowing the pace of COVID-19 and mitigating its impact cannot be the work of governments alone, instead it requires an all-of-society response.

In April 2019, the 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator was launched by United Nations (through UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN Office for Partnerships, UN Global Compact), and The Partnering Initiative, with the purpose of accelerating and scaling up solid and effective partnerships to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in all countries.

Multi-stakeholder collaboration is an important mechanism to tackle the challenges of COVID-19 and will be essential in order to ‘build back better’ as societies begin to recover and look to build more sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies.

In order to inspire and support collaboration among all stakeholders during these challenging times, the Partnership Accelerator is today launching two new publications; a guidebook on how to effectively build strong partnerships. and a research report on partnership platforms.

The guidebook aims to help stakeholders to understand the value of multi-stakeholder partnerships and provide guidance on how to build robust and effective collaborations that can achieve extraordinary results for the SDGs.

The research report draws out good practices from in-country ‘partnership platforms’ that are evolving around the world. These platforms aim to catalyze and support new multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development, often with a particular thematic or SDG-driven focus.

Both publications are available to download from this page.
Support to Small Island Developing States
SIDS Partnership Analysis
On 27 September 2019, the General Assembly held a high-level meeting to review progress, gaps and challenges on the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway , the outcome of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) held in 2014. The review resulted in an inter-governmentally agreed political declaration, outlining actions for accelerating sustainable development priorities of SIDS. The declaration included a call for scaling-up and development of genuine and durable partnerships with all stakeholders at national, regional and international levels that follow the SIDS Partnership SMART criteria.

In support of the process preparing for the high-level review, through generous funding by the government of Italy, a series of partnership dialogues were organized by UN DESA in close collaboration with the co-chairs of the Steering Committee on Partnerships for SIDS, Belize and Ireland . The process resulted in a SIDS Partnership Toolbox - a set of policy tools for enhancing capacity around the design of partnerships for SIDS, and for assisting stakeholders in monitoring and review of partnerships – an analysis on partnerships that have been registered with the Secretariat through UN conferences since 2014, and an enhanced SIDS partnership online platform.

The analysis showed that all SAMOA Pathway priority areas are addressed through partnerships, but with an overall stronger focus on oceans and seas, climate change, sustainable economic growth, renewable energy and disaster risk reduction. The analysis also clearly showed that partnerships bring positive impact to SIDS, including increased resilience of communities, improved access to safe water and sanitation for communities, enhanced protection of marine and terrestrial environments, strengthened engagement of youth in shaping national and regional priorities, among other areas.

A central part of the Partnership Accelerator is the national partnership training workshops. Carried out in close collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinator and national stakeholders, the workshops offer hands-on and in-depth training on the development and implementation of effective partnerships. For the first phase of the Accelerator project, there will be four pilot country trainings; Kenya, Thailand, Maldives and Samoa. Phase two (2020-2021) will include additional two to three trainings in SIDS.

SIDS-specific partnership training
Through generous funding support from the Government of Ireland, the Partnership Accelerator is developing partnership training material focusing on the SIDS specific context. The material will be used in national partnership workshops in Small Island Developing States. Ireland is also supporting analytical work for upcoming workshops in Maldives and Samoa, to ensure adaptation to their national specific context.

SIDS Partnership Toolbox
Country support
Among the objectives of the Partnership Accelerator are to bolster effective country driven partnerships and partnership platforms in support of SDG implementation, including through national partnership workshops. Organized in collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinators in select countries and informed by in-depth needs analysis used to define their scope and content, these workshops offer training on the development of effective partnerships, and enhanced understanding of relationships across participants from different sectors, in order to launch new partnerships for supporting SDG implementation.
Samoa
The Partnership Accelerator is currently planning a national workshop in Samoa. More information coming soon.
Maldives
The Partnership Accelerator is currently planning a national workshop in Maldives. More information coming soon.
Kenya National Partnership Training workshop, 9 to 11 December, Nairobi
On 9 to 11 December 2019, the first national workshop of the 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator was held in Nairobi, bringing together 40 development professionals from government, various UN entities, the private sector, academia and civil society committed to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Kenya.

The 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator is a broad collaboration by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, The Partnering Initiative, in collaboration with the Global Compact and the UN Office for Partnerships, aiming to significantly help accelerate and scale up effective multi-stakeholder partnerships in support of the implementation of the SDGs.

A central part of the Partnership Accelerator is the national partnership training workshops which offer hands-on and in-depth training on the set-up and running of effective partnerships, and for building strong understanding of the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships for the SDGs. Workshops are adapted to the specific national context and tailored for practitioners from all sectors who wish to build their knowledge of effective partnerships for advancing the SDGs - both new partnership practitioners and those with some experience who wish to complement their learning with frameworks, practical tools and experiential learning.

At the workshop, which was organized in close collaboration with the office of the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee, participants engaged in a 3-day interactive workshop on aspects for stimulating effective partnerships in Kenya, including understanding the unique roles, incentives and contributions of all societal sectors, partnership governance, relationship and partnership culture, and in-country level mechanisms to support partnerships in Kenya.

Kenya as a first pilot country of the Partnership Accelerator was a natural choice, being a top advocate of the 2030 Agenda and strongly committed to its implementation. In Kenya, partners are collaborating with the SDG Partnership Platform, a high-level collaboration between the government, the UN system, and other stakeholders in pursuit of accelerating SDGs in the country through multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral partnerships and contributing to the government’s Big 4 Agenda on Primary Health Care, Food and Nutrition Security, Manufacturing, and Affordable Housing. The Platform was launched in 2017, the year also Kenya undertook its Voluntary National Review at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, prepared in broad consultation with government ministries, county governments, development partners, civil society, special groups including youth and persons with disabilities, and the private sector. In 2020, Kenya will for its second time conduct their Voluntary National Review at the High-level Political Forum, scheduled for July 2020 at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Participants expressed great appreciation for the organization of the timely workshop. Feedback and lessons learned will feed into the finalization of training material and research of the Partnership Accelerator which will be used in upcoming training workshops. By taking part in Accelerator trainings, participants become part of a growing global network of partnership practitioners for the SDGs and will have the opportunity to engage and share their knowledge and insights with Member States and other stakeholders in the various Accelerator global outreach events that are being organized.

In the coming months, the Partnership Accelerator programme will facilitate workshops for building capacity on partnerships among stakeholders in Thailand, Samoa and Maldives.

Contact

  • Mr. Ola Goransson, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), goranssono@un.org
  • Mr. Ruben Vellenga, SDG Partnership Platform Secretariat, UN Resident Coordinator's Office, Kenya ruben.vellenga@one.un.org
  • Dr. Darian Stibbe, The Partnering Initiative, darian.stibbe@tpiglobal.org

See what our Kenya Partnership Accelerators have to say!

Background
The scope and complexity of the transformations required for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are at is core are unprecedented. As a result, no government or stakeholder will be able to address the multi-sectoral, cross-pillar global challenges of today alone, instead, the 2030 Agenda can only be achieved if different sectors and actors work together in an integrated manner by pooling financial resources, knowledge and expertise.

SDG 17 on “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”, through its targets 17.16 and 17.17, recognizes the critical importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share the finance, knowledge, expertise and technology to support the achievement of SDGs in all countries. The targets also highlight the need to promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships.

Over the recent years, the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships in supporting the implementation of sustainable development has also been increasingly recognized by member States and different stakeholders, including leading institutions in international development and the private sector. This is evident in the many UN Conferences that have resulted in the launch of new multi-stakeholder partnerships and voluntary commitments.

At the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS Conference) in 2014, 300 multi-stakeholder partnerships devoted to the sustainable development of SIDS were announced, covering areas such as oceans and seas, climate change, biodiversity, resilience-building, sustainable economic growth, renewable energy and disaster risk reduction. In 2017, at the UN Ocean Conference, over 1,400 voluntary commitments for concrete action to advance implementation of SDG 14 targets were made by all stakeholders, including governments, the United Nations system, civil society organizations, academia, the scientific community, and the private sector. Collectively, these partnerships and commitments make considerable contributions to supporting the implementation of the SDGs.

Despite the strong rhetoric for the engagement of multi-stakeholder partnerships for supporting implementation of the SDGs – the reality is that we are still only scratching the surface in terms of the number, and quality, of partnerships required to deliver the SDGs. The 2018 Partnership Exchange, held in the margins of the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) explored and identified, among other issues, a key building blocks to build an enabling environment for partnerships to systemically scale up collaboration among a range of stakeholders for driving the implementation of the SDGs, and to run effective partnership action platforms which convene societal sectors around SDG priorities, and catalyze implementation of innovative initiatives. These included:

  • Developing the competencies of actors from all societal sectors need to effectively partner, including building an understanding of other sectors, relationship and partnership-building skills, and a technical knowledge of the building blocks of value-creating partnerships;
  • Institutions and organizations need to be set up to be fit for partnering: i.e. to have in place the strategies, systems and processes, staff capacities and support, and culture that are optimized to incentivize and support working collaboratively with others;
  • Setting up mechanisms or platforms that can physically convene government, business, UN, donors and civil society around SDG priorities to catalyze and support partnership development.

Within many countries, there has been considerable progress made with respect to country driven partnership platforms for dialogue and consultation on development priorities. Dialogue alone, however, is not sufficient to catalyze the necessary collaborative action. There exists a modest but growing number of partnership platforms which are designed to convene stakeholders and development actors around the SDGs, and then help to build the innovative partnerships needed to deliver on the SDGs. There is however currently very limited research or guidance around effective models for such SDG platforms.

With respect to institutional partnership-readiness, some UN entities, international NGOs and donors have made an analysis of the degree to which they are fit for partnering and begun the process of reducing obstacles to partnering, increasing incentives and improving their systems and capacities. They are, however, among the exception and most organizations are far from partnership-optimized.
United Nations