Recently the PPPLab was invited by the World Bank to share its insights and contribute to a debate on growing public-private engagement in agricultural development. This is part of a broader Food for All partnership between the Netherlands and the Bank which focuses on food systems and PPPs.
Typical aspects of the way the Dutch government supports public-private partnerships in the agri-food space were the focus of a presentation and discussion panel. Insights were drawn from a recent generation of Dutch instruments for PPPs, such as FDOV, FDW, 2Scale, G4AW and GWW.
Topics of the presentation were:
- the ‘Dutch Diamond’ approach to PPPs
- supporting PPPs that focus on different parts of the agricultural value chain
- how partnerships are used for transformation and system change
- scaling strategies and stages
In the discussion with the World Bank participants a number of interesting issues surfaced:
- How to justify public investments in agri-food PPPs? ‘Public good(s)’ in the agriculture domain can be hard to pin down, yet are essential to better underpin the different nature of agrifood PPPs when compared to more conventional PPP domains such as infrastructure and basic services.
- What is an appropriate engagement of in-country public actors, in relation to desired public value? And the potential political challenges in organizing that in view of their often politicized or informal stakes in the present dynamics of the agri sector?
- The challenges of making such PPP windows specific to country contexts and integrating them in WB agriculture sector support.
- A range of operational lessons and questions, including search versus competition modalities, the nature of the implementing body, and the need for facilitation and technical assistance in initiating and leading PPPs.
- The relevance of ‘blended finance’ and various financing logics next to ‘matching grants’ that are can help PPP initiatives to mature and produce sustainable practices and arrangements.
It was very valuable to compare Dutch NL experiences and PPPLab work within the broader context and larger playing field of the World Bank. Dutch experiences with PPPs demonstrate how to create more bottom-up public-private engagement in changing and transforming the agriculture sector towards more inclusion and sustainability. Thanks go to Wijnand van Ijssel at the WB who coordinates the NL-WB partnership, took the initiative for this visit and played a pivotal role in content, panel and contacts.