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Centre for International Environmental Studies

Effectiveness of Partnerships for Advancing the SDGs: Behavioural Pathways and Impacts

Partners: University of Geneva, University of Zurich, Oxford University, Harvard Kennedy School, UNICEF
Timeline: 2017 - November 2020
Keywords: Partnerships, SDGs
Funding Organisation: SNIS



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 the academic literature provides valuable insights on the rise of public-private partnerships (PPPs), we know considerably less about their variable effectiveness and impact. Do PPPs simply repackage existing practices with effect and accountability, or do they contribute new and additional instruments and development outcomes?

This project will draw on political science, economics, management studies and public policy to advance the study of partnerships effectiveness both theoretically and empirically with respect to the SDGs. The main research questions guiding the project are: How can we conceptualize and operationalize the effectiveness for PPPs? Through what mechanisms are PPPs effects likely to materialize? What are the sources and limitations of the effectiveness of PPPs for sustainability? How do PPPs interact with other forms of governance at the international and subnational level to influence results for the SDGs? The project will contribute to scientific and practical progress by providing the first to our knowledge inter-disciplinary, integrated and comparative theoretical approach and data on the effectiveness of partnerships for sustainability. The methodology will leverage original datasets and cases of partnerships by project participants, e.g. data and cases on partnerships in the multilateral system; data on PPPs which competed for the Roy Family Award managed by the Kennedy School of Government; data and cases from the business sector in collaboration with the UNIGE PPP Research Centre; data of partnerships for climate change, and data and cases from partner organizations – UNICEF and the WEF.

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Summary of completed project