Paper 4.5 Partnerships lessons from the first ten years of Type 2 Partnerships
Partnerships lessons from the first ten years of Type 2 Partnerships
As we approach the agreement on a new set of goals and targets it is the right time to revisit the issue of partnerships and what role they might take to help deliver those goals and targets.
As the ten-year review of Rio approached, the discussion on what role partnerships might play in implementing the agreements from the WSSD played a central role. WSSD was structured so that Type 1 was the policy agreements and commitments made by governments in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPoI) these were “time-bound and action-Ââ€oriented outcomes” and Type 2 was defined to:
- achieve further implementation of Agenda 21 and Millennium Declaration Goals (MDG);
- complement globally agreed Type 1 outcomes and not substitute government commitment;
- be voluntary in nature and not be subject to negotiation within the PrepCom;
- be participatory, with ownership shared between partners;
- be new initiatives, or, in the case of ongoing initiatives, demonstrate added value in the context of the Summit;
- integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development;
- be international (global, regional or sub-regional) in scope and reach;
- have clear objectives, and set specific targets and timeframes for their achievement; and
- have a system of accountability, including arrangements for monitoring progress. (UN, 2002)
These were elements from the Bali Guidelines (see Annex 1) The UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in 2003 agreed a more robust set of guidelines for partnerships but not a proper accountability system (see Annex 2).
In 2003, these partnership guidelines were updated during 11th Session of the CSD to, inter alia, emphasize that they should bear in mind the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in their design and implementation; should be based on predictable and sustained resources for their implementation and should result in the transfer of technology to, and capacity-building in, developing countries. They also emphasized that the involvement of international institutions and United Nations funds, programmes and agencies in partnerships should conform to inter-governmentally agreed mandates and should not lead to the diversion to partnerships of resources otherwise allocated for their mandated programmes
Since 2002 there have been a number of initiates that have been launched around other UN Conferences and Summit that have tried to promote voluntary commitments. These include Rio+20s Voluntary Initiates, which in many cases, were organizations individual commitments. By the end of the Conference, over 700 voluntary commitments were announced and compiled into an online registry managed by the Rio+20 Secretariat
The notion of global partnerships and multi-stakeholder approaches are now very much accepted to be an integral part of the multilateral cooperation such that the theme of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States was “The sustainable development of small island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships“. Nearly 300 partnerships were registered in the lead-up to the Conference, addressing a range of priority areas, including Sustainable Economic Development, Climate change & Disaster Risk management, Social development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Health and NCDs, youth and women, Sustainable Energy, Oceans, Seas and Biodiversity, Water and Sanitation, and Food Security and Waste Management.
A number of reviews of partnerships have been undertaken by researchers and scholars since 2002 in an attempt to answer a number of questions:
- What has happened since then?
- Are they on track to deliver as they set out to do?
- What are the lessons learned from existing review mechanisms?
- How can progress be measured?
- And who has the authority to do so?
Reviewing global partnerships
From the beginning, there were questions about the scope and impact of these partnerships. Hale (2003) observed that many existing partnership initiatives from WSSD were simply re-categorized, with just a few select countries participating covering a narrow list of issue areas. The Stakeholder Forum (2006) also observed that more analysis was done to understand which partnerships are actually delivering results, and how issues of reporting, transparency, and accountability are being addressed. Such a detailed review was undertaken by the International Civil Society Centre (ICSC) in 2014 of 330 of WSSD partnerships. The study found that:
â€œThirty-eight per cent of all partnerships sampled are simply not active or do not have measurable output. Twenty-six per cent of all partnerships show activities but those are not directly related to their publicly stated goals and ambitions. An underlying problem was that many multi-stakeholder partnerships have vague and diffuse goals and lack appropriate monitoring and reporting mechanisms, making the causality between the output of the partnership and impact on the ground difficult to establish. A key finding of the ICSC study was a lack of monitoring and reporting mechanisms have generally limited the effectiveness of MSPs. Improved monitoring, evaluation, and reporting are tools that will help to assess progress vis-a-vis targets and goals and will no doubt enhance the credibility of the MSPs.
Beisheim (2014) in eight years of research on multi-stakeholder partnerships have found governance structures of MSPs are â€˜terra incognita. It is often difficult to find how MSPs are monitored. Some of the monitoring systems are external, but they are not public, and also not always independent. They suggest that a transparent, accountable, efficient, participatory and qualitative governance structure is a must in order to increase the effectiveness of MSPs. Two other recent key studies have served to provide more in-depth analysis of these issues and their importance for partnerships: World Vision’s Getting intentional: Cross-sector partnerships, business and the Post-2015 Development Agendaâ€ and BCG/MIT’s Joining Forces: Collaboration and Leadership for Sustainability.
While bringing many benefits, the challenges that pose this new approach, including in terms of accountability, coherence, and efficiency, should not be underestimated and should clearly require a mechanism designed to respond to these challenges and for ensuring the Organization’s capacity to undertake partnerships at scale. Such a mechanism would help promote integrity and transparency and help ensure the UN’s mandates are preserved, provide common partnership support services across the full range of UN activities, improve UN coordination and support and backstop multi-stakeholder initiatives.
A few examples of successful Type 2 Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships
|Â||BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES||LEAD FACILITATORS, FUNDERS||GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE||OUTCOMES AND CHALLENGES Â||MONITORING|
|The Global Alliance For Vaccines And Immunization (Gavi)||Established January 2000 and has raised over $.5 billion.
Vaccine provision and development, country level immunization programmes and health systems strengthening (HSS); special focus on low-income countries.
|WHO, UNICEF, World Bank, Gates Foundation, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association, US AID (funders 1/3rd from bilateral donors, private donations, and Â Gates Foundation.||GAVI has a secretariat and Board one third of Board elected on an independent basis with expertise in health;
At country level GAVI works through Interagency Coordinating Committees and Health Sector Coordinating Committees.
|Built on the experience of the Vaccine Initiative launched by UNICEF in 1990. Generally seen as successful in increasing the numbers vaccinated but less successful influencing vaccine pricing.||A Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and Strategy; ensures valid, reliable, useful performance measures are available and used to support organizational and stakeholder learning, management of strategy, improvement of programmes, mitigation of risk and reporting of performance.|
|The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI)||Launched by WHO in 1998 at the World Health Assembly Objective to eradicate Polio by 2000; today polio reduced by 99% globally.||WHO, UNICEF, the US Centre for Disease control, Rotary International bilateral donors also included Russian Federation, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, World Bank and African and Inter-American Development Banks||The Advisory Committee on Polio Eradication and the Global Commission for the Certification of the eradication of Poliomyelitis and the UN Interagency Committee play vital roles with WHO regional offices, large networks of health workers, public health managers & professionals
|Polio incidents have reduced by 99% but the commitment to global polio eradication by the World Health Assembly (WHA), is not legally binding on states, and therefore the enforcement mechanisms of GPEI are not strong.||GPEI operates within a broad framework of inter-governmental and interagency cooperation and participation. TheÂ Independent Monitoring Board assesses progress towards a polio-free world, convenes on a quarterly basis to independently evaluate progress towards each of the major milestones of the GPEI Strategic Plan; the IMB provides assessments of the risks posed by existing funding gaps.|
|Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP)||Initiated by the UK government in 2002 as a WSSD Type 2 partnership response to WSSD failure to agree targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency It aimed to promote collaboration to achieve a significant increase in the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency to improve energy security and provide for reliable delivery, and deal with climate change/energy issues. Project implementation and policy advice at national level, and advocacy at global level is its main thrust.||Traditional bilateral donors (90 projects in over 40 countries);
60% of REEEP activities deal with policy and regulation, the remaining with project financing.
|REEEP has a governing board that is responsible to a Meeting of Partners which is the ultimate authority of REEEP. Projects are developed and proposed by the programme committee and final selection by the International Selection Committee. A governing board is responsible to an assembly, Meeting of Partnersâ€™, which is the ultimate authority of REEEP.||REEEP contributed to change in renewable energy. REEEP has used a multiple approach to establish national partnerships involving small-scale private sector partners, NGOs and public partners. REEEP has also financed local projects that may not have been from the outset financially viable from a market point of view. South Africa proposed targets for of 5% of total primary energy use to come from renewable energy resources by 2010. By 2009 IAEA estimate this had reached 13.1%, now increased to 19%.||Has a Governing Board responsible for the conduct of the business of the organization in accordance with the Statutes, and holds office for a period of four years. It is comprised of not less than six members and meets at least once a year. Its functions are to: develop and oversee the key strategic direction of the REEEP, including targets, timeframes and funding priorities; prepare the financial rules and accounting system of the organization, consider and decide upon applications to become Partners, provide instructions to the International Secretariat.|
|The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)||FSC Founding Assembly in 1993, the secretariat relocated in 2003 to Bonn, Germany. Main thrust from UNCED in 1992 to establish an independent and international forest certification system. Vision: the world’s forests meet the social, ecological, and economic rights and needs of the present generation without compromising those of future generations through promoting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.||Not for profit NGO with membership in over 60 countries. It is financed through a multitude of sources individual and corporate grants, donations and projects. It has a strong collaborative relationship with various UN bodies and has over the years worked with UNEP and had projects financed through the GEF. Governments cannot be members.||Board of Directors and an international secretariat with the General Assembly of members as the highest decision making body. It has three chambers for stakeholders from environment, social and economic organizations.
There is also a quota to ensure a more balanced north/south representation.
|Formally organised as an independent non-governmental organisation, works outside of national regulations with its outreach. With expertise competence and project portfolio, the FSC can function as an incubator for multi-stakeholder partnerships. The FSC administers a self-elaborated third party certification system on wood and timber products that serves to verify whether products of global forest is certified and 25% of all industrial round-wood production.||FSC has developed 12 system indicators under four main categories â€“ economic, social, environmental and general. The FSC Monitoring and Evaluation Program has also developed a Code of Good Practice for Assessing the Impacts of Social and Environmental Standards, works with ten credibility principles integrated in the FSC monitoring work. sustainability, improvement, relevance, rigour, engagement impartiality, transparency accessibility, truthfulness, efficiency|
|UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate||Launched in 2007 and developed under the UN Global Compactâ€™s three environment principles derived from the Rio Declaration for business to support a precautionary approach, promote greater environmental responsibility and encourage diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies has a broad-based analysis of the acute global water stress with action taken, but the CEO Water Mandate is voluntary and aspirational and works on six areas: Direct Operations; Supply Chain and Watershed Management; Collective Action; Public Policy; Community Engagement; and Transparency
|Participation in the CEO Water Mandate is open to all UNGC business signatories, and is funded and supported by companies, governments, and UN agencies and other stakeholders.||Run by a secretariat in the UN GC and the Pacific Institute and overseen by the CEO Water Mandate Steering Committee, which includes business, civil society and other representatives.||The CEO Water Mandate has set rigorous standards for reporting on companies activities in water and sanitation related areas, and the reporting policy follows those of the GRI. Member companies have changed their approach to water due to the work done under the CEO Water Mandate.
Participating companies must also publish and share their water strategies, including targets and results, areas for improvement, in relevant corporate reports, using where appropriate the water indicators found in the GRI Guidelines. Companies must be transparent in dealings and conversations with governments and other public authorities on water issues.
|While a voluntary initiative, the CEO Water Mandate incorporates a mandatory disclosure mechanism. It reports through a system called Corporate Water Disclosure which reports information to stakeholders (investors, NGOs, consumers, communities, suppliers, and employees) related to the current state of a companyâ€™s water management, the implications for the business and others, and the companyâ€™s strategic responses. Disclosure is a critical component of a companyâ€™s water management efforts and of water-related sustainability more generally. Disclosure reports are posted on the CEO Water Mandateâ€™s public website; further, companies which fail to report are expelled.|
Table 1: Taken From the UNDESA Multi-stakeholder partnerships: Making them work for the Post-2015 Development Agenda
Some lessons learnt
Reviewing these five partnerships and the 340 other partnerships from WSSD there are a number of common lessons learnt that could help ensure that partnerships around the SDGs are more successful. In the recent seven-year studies by the University of Potsdam these are:
- The mandate of a partnership must be precise and not too broad
- The governance structures of MSPs are terra incognita but a transparent, accountable, efficient, participatory and qualitative governance structure is a must, and this structure must be functional
- There needs to be good transparent reporting process
- The time of the project must not be defined too A too short time span on a project seems in most cases to be counterproductive; the following three points illustrates this:
- It is often difficult to find how MSPs are Some of the monitoring systems are external, but they are not public, and also not always independent. Monitoring rises to its full potential when it is combined with strong leadership and the option to sanction projects that do not meet the agreed milestones and targets (Beisheim/Liese p. 176)
- Recognizing possible conflicts before a project is begun is imperative, and adjusting the project and partnership design to accommodate such conflicts is imperative for its success
- Within the multilevel context of transnational partnerships, institutionalized organizational learning is a crucial feature for achieving the desired impact and sustained project success.â€ (Beisheim/Liese p 180)
- The challenge of communication seems often to be underestimated and this is communication within the MSPs and to the people affected by the MSPs
Â Options for monitoring and review framework
The process around the development of the Sustainable Development Goals enables a new look at partnerships. One of the additional elements of the SDG process is that of universality, this will enable partnerships from developed countries to be registered and reviewed. Unlike WSSD the SDGs will offer Type 1 agreements that are â€˜time bound and action orientatedâ€™.
Much of the early concerns in 2002 and afterwards about the potential lack of transparency, proper monitoring and reporting and clear results have turned out to be correct. It is clear that in many cases the lack of funding has played a significant role in undermining good partnerships and that they were not focused in many cases towards clear intergovernmental targets. Not all the news is bad this paper has looked at a number of partnerships that have worked and believe that they suggest what might be the elements for a more effect approach to partnership around the implementation of the SDGs.
The system set up for overseeing the partnerships for the SDGs will enable future UN Conferences and Summit coming up such as the UNGASS on Drugs (2016), Habitat III (2016) and others to utilize the same system for any partnerships that they develop.
The approach at WSSD towards partnerships was one of a thousand flowers bloom. The result of this is many did not survive. It is an inclusive approach but one that is difficult to register the impacts and creates considerable administrative requirements.
Another approach might be to utilize a process that was part of the follow-up to Agenda 21 but this time to apply it to partnerships.
After Rio 1992 UN Agencies and Programmes were assigned responsivity for the different chapters of Agenda 21 this ensured that the whole of the UN system was engaged and responsible for the implementation. For the SDGs a similar approach could be taken in the area of partnerships. For example WHO could take responsibility for the Meta partnership for health which would include a partnership to deliver each target (see Annex 3). These target partnerships could have a global facilitator, which might be a UN body or a government or two or a stakeholder group, or as has been suggested in a number of the reviews a new body set up for that purpose. Those partnerships that are then developed to deliver a certain target would be grouped and administrated to help ensure transparency and accountability.
Such an approach would enable a one-stop shop for information on implementation, capacity building and would ensure transparency and a knowledge base based with a UN Agency or Programme.
This would mean NO MORE than 169 partnerships.
The Partnership Forum in ECOSOC
The Partnership Forum in ECOSO has become the central place in the UN system to look at partnerships. Building on five years of experience, it should continue to play that role for overseeing the SDG partnerships. With 12 SSGs pf which 16 have sectorial focuses it would make it relatively easy for information on implementation of partnerships to be either brought through a sectorial focus or through a cross sectorial focus.
The Partnership Forum could then focus on lessons learnt and enable those to be fed into the HLPF. The development of a Task Manager’s approach to partnerships would also enable the material that was coming from ECOSOC Partnership Forum to be of level where the analysis of the contribution of those partnerships could have already occurred. It would enable the Partnership Forum to focus on lessons learnt and enable governments to dig deeper into those partnerships being presented to draw recommendations to the HLPF.
High Level Political Forum, under the auspices of ECOSOC
The HLPF has been designed as the Home of the Pot SDGs and the Post 2015 Development Agenda. Partnerships will play a major role in the implementation of this agenda and the HLPF will be the coordinating body for partnerships.
Paragraphs 7 and 8 of the UNGA resolution 67/290 which established the HLPF outlines some of the key responsibilities designated the HLPF to include partnerships. In particular
As the HLPF is restricted in the number of days it is held to five days plus three then it needs to utilize the organs of ECOSOC to do some of its work. If the Partnership Forum in ECOSOC is expanded in its number of days it can then do a review of partnerships and produce a report from the Partnership Forum to the HLPF this would enable the HLPF to discuss any potential policy implications that have come from the review of partnerships.
This paper has provided some historical context of multi-stakeholder partnerships; critical issues and potential approaches which are meant to guide a discussion on post-2015 partnerships, including proposals and ideas for consideration.
- Type II partnerships/initiatives are complementary to the globally agreed Type I outcomes: they are not intended to substitute commitments by governments in the Type I documents, rather they should contribute to translating those political commitments into action. Given the broad range of issues currently being negotiated, it should not prove difficult to link a Type II initiative to the negotiated outcome. (UN, 2002)
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Annex 1: Bali Guidelines on Partnerships
Objective of Partnerships
Partnerships for sustainable development are specific commitments by various partners intended to contribute to and reinforce the implementation of the outcomes of the intergovernmental negotiations of the WSSD (Programme of Action and Political Declaration) and to help achieve the further implementation of Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals.
Voluntary Nature/Respect for Fundamental Principles and Values
Partnerships are of a voluntary, ‘self-organizing’ nature; they are based on mutual respect and shared responsibility of the partners involved, taking into account the Rio Declaration Principles and the values expressed in the Millennium Declaration.
Link With Globally Agreed Outcomes
Partnerships are to complement the intergovernmentally agreed outcomes of WSSD: they are not intended to substitute commitments made by governments. Rather they should serve as mechanisms for the delivery of the globally agreed commitments by mobilizing the capacity for producing action on the ground. Partnerships should be anchored in the intergovernmentally agreed outcomes of WSSD (Programme of Action and Political Declaration) and help achieve the further implementation of Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals.
Integrated Approach To Sustainable Development
Partnerships should integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in their design and implementation. They should be consistent, where applicable, with sustainable development strategies and poverty reduction strategies of the countries, regions and communities where their implementation takes place.
Partnerships should have a multi-stakeholder approach and preferably involve a range of significant actors in a given area of work. They can be arranged among any combination of partners, including governments, regional groups, local authorities, non-governmental actors, international institutions and private sector partners. All partners should be involved in the development of a partnership from an early stage, so that it is genuinely participatory in approach. Yet as partnerships evolve, there should be an opportunity for additional partners to join on an equal basis.
Transparency and Accountability
Partnerships should be developed and implemented in an open and transparent manner and in good faith, so that ownership of the partnership process and its outcomes is shared among all partners, and all partners are equally accountable. They should specify arrangements to monitor and review their performance against the objectives and targets they set and report in regular intervals (‘self-reporting’). These reports should be made accessible to the public.
Each partnership should define its intended outcome and benefits. Partnerships should have clear objectives and set specific measurable targets and timeframes for their achievement. All partners should explicitly commit to their role in achieving the aims and objectives of the partnerships.
Available and /or expected sources of funding should be identified. At least the initial funding should be assured at the time of the Summit, if the partnership is to be recognized there.
New/Value Added Partnerships
Ideally, partnerships for sustainable development should be new i.e. developed within the framework of the WSSD process. In case of on-going partnerships, there has to be a significant added value to these partnerships in the context of the WSSD (e.g. more partners taken on board, replicating an initiative or extending it to another geographical region, increasing financial resources, etc.)
Local Involvement & International Impact
While the active involvement of local communities in the design and implementation of partnerships is strongly encouraged (bottom-up approach), partnerships should be international in their impact, which means their impact should extend beyond the national level (global, regional and/or sub-regional).
Partnerships should keep the Commission on Sustainable Development informed about their activities and progress in achieving their targets. The CSD should serve as a focal point for discussion of partnerships that promote sustainable development, including sharing lessons learnt, progress made and best practices.
Opportunities to develop partnerships for sustainable development will continue after the WSSD. Submissions of partnerships after the Summit will be considered in the follow-up process.
Annex 2: Commission on Sustainable Development 11 (2003)
At CSD11 a framework for WSSD partners was agreed to. Their follow up should be developed and implemented in accordance with the following criteria and guidelines, taking note in that regard of the preliminary work undertaken on partnerships during the preparatory process for the Summit, including the Bali guiding principles, and General Assembly resolution 56/76 of 11 December 2001.
- Partnerships are voluntary initiatives undertaken by Governments and relevant stakeholders, such as major groups and institutional stakeholders;
- Partnerships should contribute to the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, and should not divert resources from the commitments contained in those agreements;
- Partnerships are not intended to substitute commitments made by Governments, but to supplement the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation;
- Partnerships should add concrete value to the implementation process and should be new. That is, they should not merely reflect existing arrangements;
- Partnerships should bear in mind the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in their design and implementation;
- Partnerships should be based on predictable and sustained resources for their implementation, should include the mobilization of new resources, and where relevant, should result in the transfer of technology to, and capacity-building in, developing countries;
- It is desirable that partnerships have a sectoral and geographical balance;
- Partnerships should be designed and implemented in a transparent and accountable manner. In that regard, they should exchange relevant information with Governments and other relevant stakeholders;
- Partnerships should be publicly announced with the intention of sharing the specific contribution that they make to the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation;
- Partnerships should be consistent with national laws and national strategies for the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, as well as the priorities of countries where their implementation takes place
- The leading partner of a partnership initiative should inform the national focal point for sustainable development of the involved country/countries about the initiation and progress of the partnership, and all partners should bear in mind the guidance provided by Governments;
- The involvement of international institutions and United Nations funds, programmes and agencies in partnerships should conform to intergovernmentally agreed mandates and should not lead to the diversion to partnerships of resources otherwise allocated for their mandated programmes;
- Decides that providing information and reporting by partnerships registered with the Commission should be transparent, participatory and credible, taking into account the following elements:
- The registration of partnerships should be voluntary and should be based on written reporting to the Commission, taking into account the provisions specified above. Reporting by partnerships should focus on their contribution to the implementation of the goals, objectives and targets of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation;
- Partnerships should submit a regular report, preferably at least on a biennial basis;
- The Secretariat is requested to make information available on partnerships, including their reports, through a database accessible to all interested parties, including through the Commission web site and other means;
- The Secretariat is requested to produce a summary report containing synthesized information on partnerships for consideration by the Commission, in accordance with its programme and organization of work, noting the particular relevance of such reports in review years;
- The Commission, during review years, should discuss the contribution of partnerships towards supporting the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation with a view to sharing lessons learned and best practices, identifying and addressing problems, gaps and constraints, and providing further guidance, including on reporting, during policy years, as necessary;
- Calls for activities aimed at strengthening partnerships in the context of the Summit process and its follow-up, and facilitating new ones, including through such initiatives as partnerships fairs and learning centres, mindful of the importance of sharing
Felix Dodds is a Senior Fellow at the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute. He was the co-director of the 2014 Nexus Conference on Water, Food, Energy and Climate.
Dodds was the Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future from 1992-2012. He played a significant role in promoting multi-stakeholder dialogues at the United Nations and prosed to the UN General Assembly the introduction of stakeholder dialogue sessions at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.
He has been active at the UN since 1990, attending and actively participating in UNFCCC, UNCBD, the World Summits of Rio Earth Summit, Habitat II, Rio+5, Beijing+5, Copenhagen+5, World Summit on Sustainable Development and Rio+20, while also attending the UN Commissions for Sustainable Development and UNEP Governing Councils.
In 2011, he chaired the United Nations DPI 64th NGO conference ‘Sustainable Societies Responsive Citizens’. From 1997-2001, he co-chaired the UN Commission on Sustainable Development NGO Steering Committee.
Dodds has written, or edited, eleven books prior to Rio+20 and with Michael Strauss and Maurice Strong, wrote Only One Earth: The Long Road via Rio to Sustainable Development. After Rio+20 with Jorge Laguna Celis and Elizabeth Thompson, he wrote From Rio+20 to a New Development Agenda Building a Bridge to a Sustainable Future and The Plain Language Guide to Rio+20.
He is also an International Ambassador for the City of Bonn.