TPI’s global partnership initiative, Business Partnership Action (BPA), has supported the development, over the last few years, of several in-country platforms, including the Zambia Business in Development Facility (ZBIDF), platforms in Mozambique and Colombia, and most recently the East Africa Humanitarian and Private Sector Partnerships Platform (HPPP). TPI has also collaborated with World Vision to produce a paper on the role of in country multi-stakeholder platforms in delivering the SDGs.
At the end of November, as part of a number of interventions in the second high level meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), TPI convened a side event on in-country multi-stakeholder platforms to catalyse collaboration and partnerships for Agenda 2030. The event was a panel discussion around the challenges and opportunities of these platforms, and how they can support all development actors to achieve their objectives. The panel included speakers from TPI, the Zambia Chamber of Commerce & Industry, ZBIDF, World Vision/ the HPPP; ALIARSE in Costa Rica, and BPA.
Among the key points that emerged from the discussion, it was noted that platform staff need unusual skills including knowledge of different organisational culture, needs and language. They need interaction and relationship-building skills. They need to constantly problem-solve, identify opportunities etc. Partnership brokers should not be easily frustrated – they need to bring together people who don’t normally work together. Platforms for partnerships represent a critical missing ingredient of the SDG implementation architecture. These platforms already exist in some countries and we can learn rapidly from their experience. Existing coordination mechanisms can be adapted to support partnerships, rather than creating new platforms. There is an enormous opportunity here but in order to move forward to create this architecture at scale, widespread need political recognition is needed.
As part of the discussion, speakers shared perspectives from their own platforms:
ALIARSE is an NGO dedicated to promoting partnerships for development in Costa Rica, for the past nine years. Its focus is primarily on research on partnerships, building capacity / experience sharing, and brokering partnerships. ALIARSE offers a permanent technical secretariat for partnerships, some of which have been running for over 5 years; in most cases, the drivers have come from the private sector itself. ALIARSE’s aim is not to be a broker or middleman, but to improve the quality of the whole supply chain, from the producer with their know-how, through the platform and becoming more efficient, through to business, increasing volume and creating direct interactions.
ZBIDF is a multi-stakeholder platform incorporating business, civil society and government in Zambia. It is a collaborative effort led by TPI and others to catalyse, support and scale cross-sector partnerships in order to harness the power of business to achieve development goals. The main focus has been to raise awareness and create a conducive partnering culture in the country: people are used to more regulated PPPs, but development partnerships, which are more transformational, require a different process. The Government of Zambia has selected this model to create traction in various areas – for example the government’s industrialisation and job creation strategy, supported by ZBIDF and TPI, is now proceeding through 12 business-led partnering opportunities. The drivers have come both from government and business.
The East Africa Business and humanitarian platform includes a range of organisations, from companies to NGOs and UN agencies. The number of crises is rising, and the number of affected regions is rising, so now more than ever, the response needs to be strengthened and optimised, drawing on the resources and knowledge of all sectors. Private sector engagement in humanitarian issues tends to be ad hoc, reactive, philanthropic, short-term. The platform, launched in March 2016, aims to systematise transactions between sectors – to enable humanitarians and the private sector to communicate and coordinate needs.