Partners across all sectors are responding to the call for using partnerships as a vehicle to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals1. However, working in partnerships is not an easy process, and particularly partnering with governments in developing countries can be cumbersome.
Building relationships requires considerable time, effort and resources. There is a trade-off between quickly moving ahead with a partnership in order to start implementing activities as soon as possible, versus accepting a slower pace, as the quote of the government official above suggests.
The Partnering with Governments on SDGs is a tool developed by the PPPLab to help you analyse, reflect on and get inspired to partner effectively with governments in developing countries. There is much to learn from other partnerships that have managed to do so. Their key to success was understanding government partners’ interests and benefits, and acting on this. Combining interests is the first partnership principle to take into account – apart from complementing approaches and resources, and finding those common principles that can be translated into shared values. The tool helps you find convergence of those interests, that ultimately serve the Sustainable Development Goals.
This PPPLab tool provides you with useful insights – in 11 questions clustered in 5 steps. It includes questions on when to partner, with whom, what to do if challenges occur, how to promote mutuality and commitment and what next in partnering with government. The tool uses a nonlinear approach, and its various steps can be revisited as new information becomes available, in case new partners come on board, or circumstances change.
This tool has been developed with the partnership perspective in mind, and in particular companies and organizations that partnered with governments in developing countries, called ‘lead partners’. To mirror these views, representatives from African governments have been interviewed as well as from the Dutch government. The work which informs the tool is derived from the PPPLab research project to explore the role of governments in PPPs. It builds on Explorations 05 ‘How can PPPs work effectively with the Public P? Practices in food and water partnerships in Ghana and Kenya’.
The tool aims to assist partnership practitioners, representatives from the business sector, NGOs, and bilateral and international agencies wishing to build or improve their partnering activities with governments in developing countries. It serves as mainly as a source of inspiration, there can be no ‘one size fits all’ partnership model.
The tool assists PPPs in a careful preparation and planning necessary for succesful partnering, especially in contexts where there are implementation challenges in building partnerships with governments. Certainly, partnerships intending to work with government should have strong motivations to do so due to the time and effort it requires. But if the ambition is to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, time and effort is needed to develop an inclusive partnership. One that ensures that partnership outcomes are sustained.