On 18th June, The Collective Impact Forum, FSG and The Partnering Initiative convened a webinar to explore a very promising mechanism for driving cross-sectoral collaboration at the scale and quality required to meet the SDGs: platforms for partnership. These backbone organisations, which are often part of wider global collaborative initiatives, are emerging in developing countries to convene, broker, and directly support partnerships. They are a crucial part of the infrastructure required to support global collaboration for development.
The webinar presented a model for collective action, and introduced the life cycle and building blocks of effective and sustainable platforms for partnership, looking also at how they fit in the wider context of global initiatives. It then drew on direct learning and experience from two current, thriving backbone organisations operating as partnership hubs at the country level: SAGCOT in Tanzania, which focuses on inclusive, sustainable agricultural growth, and the Zambia Business in Development Facility (ZBIDF), based in Lusaka, which is developing multi-stakeholder partnerships within the extractives, manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
The panel examined key success factors for these platforms – from understanding the objectives and incentives of each sector, and ensuring alignment between country level and global level activities, to setting up advisory groups and getting government commitment and championship. It also examined some of the main challenges, such as divergent perspectives on how best to achieve a common agenda, difficulties in attracting the necessary skills and experience, and building institutional capacity to work in a partnership environment. Another key challenge identified was around monitoring and evaluation: how to measure success and what to track. SAGCOT and ZBIDF shared some initial solutions and insights based on their own current learning and experience.
The rich Q&A session at the end of the webinar signalled the beginning of a wider, ongoing global conversation around best practice for platforms for partnership.