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By Anna Hirsch-Holland and Max von Abendroth. This article was first published by Alliance Magazine.

The interconnected and urgent challenges the world is facing today are becoming all too familiar: climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, shrinking civic space, inequality, instability – the list goes on. Tackling such complex issues, requires us to collaborate, ambitiously and strategically, across societal sectors, geographies, and thematic areas. This is not easy! But only with such collaboration can we hope to align the natural, financial, and human resources of the planet, and in so doing, forge a sustainable and socially just future for all.

It is this challenge that has brought The Partnering Initiative (TPI)’s Programme on Philanthropy and the World Association of Public Private Partnership Units and Professionals (WAPPP) together in an initiative exploring a particular kind of multi-stakeholder collaboration: transformative public-private-philanthropy partnerships – PPPPs – for people and planet.

Over the last year or so, we have seen an increasing recognition of and appetite for the unique role that philanthropy can play in these collaborations. By leveraging its flexible capital, diverse networks across sectors, strong reputation, and technical expertise, philanthropy has the potential to grease the wheels of transformational partnerships that unlock and align public and private resources and investments of all kinds.

However, this is still very much an emerging field, lacking even a typology, and with experiences still anecdotal rather than turned into best practice. As such, we are currently only scratching at the surface of the potential for such partnerships to deliver scalable, transformational impact in areas such as climate mitigation and adaptation, education, transport, housing, and health. For PPPPs to thrive, different stakeholders need to have a good understanding of what these partnerships look like and how they can work. This is why TPI and WAPPP are working in collaboration with others to identify the insights that will enable innovative pathways to action for transformative PPPPs for People and Planet.

To get us started on this journey, we hosted in April the first of what we hope will be a series of virtual sessions to bring together early pioneers of three diverse PPPPs at local, national, and global levels – to share their ideas and examples with a wider audience.

We heard first from Alex Oprita from Community Foundation Bucharest, presenting a PPPP example at the city level: the Environment Platform Bucharest. This platform was launched to address the fact that civil society, city hall, and companies simply weren’t cooperating. In this example, the philanthropic element brings the convening power and structural ‘backbone’ to the collaboration – recognising that building trust takes a lot of time, and need consistent, sustained support.

Trust was a theme that also came to the fore in the presentation by Jean-Marie Delon representing the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire. The Child Learning and Education Facility (CLEF) is an innovative PPPP falling within the Government’s Stratégie Nationale Cacao Durabl. Originally spearheaded by the Jacobs Foundation, CLEF brings together stakeholders from the cocoa industry, philanthropic foundations, and of course government to pool funding and improve access and quality of education in Cote d’Ivoire. Building trust and understanding between these diverse actors – with different missions and interests – took the best part of five years. Jean-Marie spoke of how critical philanthropy’s role was in this regard – building bridges between the profit-driven private sector and the social mission of the Government.

Philanthropy can also play this role on a more global scale, spanning multiple countries, for example with the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP). Marina Pannekeet from the Ikea Foundation – one of the anchor partners of GEAPP, alongside the Rockefeller Foundation and Bezos Earth Fund – explained how this PPPP brings together public finance institutions and technical agencies to support multiple governments in developing ambitious renewable energy programmes. While leveraging funding is a critical role played by the philanthropic partner, so too is their ability to convene and facilitate collaboration between public and private partners to get actual projects off the ground and working successfully.

As well as hearing from these practitioners, we were also joined by one of our own collaborators – Rob van Rietfrom the World Economic Forum’s Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA) initiative. Rob emphasised the critical importance of bringing together public, private, and philanthropy stakeholders to really ‘move the needle’. The GAEA initiative is specifically focused on addressing the gap between action and achievement in the climate and nature space and will help to identify in which thematic areas of climate and nature PPPPs can have most impact. The initiative will also aim to showcase PPPP examples; launch new pilot PPPPs in thematic areas where we have not yet seen sufficient action; and tap into growth markets – ensuring that local leaders are driving local solutions.

In the months to come and in the run-up to COP28, TPI will be hosting the global PPPPs for People & Planet programme. More than 25 organisations from all continents will actively contribute to identifying and sharing insights into the impact of PPPPs, as well as good practices, opportunities and barriers.

Together we will drive the implementation and scale-up of good practice PPPPs – supporting those that are creating PPPPs for transformational change with tools, guidance, peer exchange opportunities, and other support as needed.

If you share the vision of significantly increasing transformative PPPPs to address the most urgent challenges facing humanity, we invite you to join us on this journey. You can share your interest through this ‘stay connected’ survey.

Anna Hirsch-Holland is Programme Director for Funder Impact at TPI – contact

Max von Abendroth, TPI Associate, is PPPP Lead at TPI and Chair of Philanthropy in PPPs Forum at WAPPP – contact

To get us started on this journey, we hosted in April the first of what we hope will be a series of virtual sessions to bring together early pioneers of three diverse PPPPs at local, national, and global levels – to share their ideas and examples with a wider audience.

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Julia Gilbert
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