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ability, this symposium offered a rich and diverse group of stakeholders, including government officials, international development and financial organizations, representatives of the scientific and academic communities, and private industry, a space to critically analyze experience to date. In addition, the symposium and its commissioned case studies were intended to help would-be practitioners navigate the when, where, why, and how of partnering. A steering committee of Roundtable members was appointed and organized the symposium program to achieve these objectives.

Steering committee members’ participation in early 2007 in both the United Nations’ (UN) Preparatory Committee meeting for the UN Commission on Sustainable development1 (CSD)-15 and in the CSD-15 meetings confirmed the utility of convening additional discussions on the effectiveness of partnerships for sustainability. It was during this period that the steering committee also began to tighten its working definition of “partnership,” recognizing that the term can mean different things to different entities. Previously, the committee had relied on a general definition put forward by Xavier de Souza Briggs (2003):

Partnerships are a means of producing together, with others when we cannot produce something important—or cannot produce it nearly as well—on our own. Partnership then may be thought of as productive teamwork scaled up to the level of organizations, communities and even nations or groups of nations.

For the CSD audience, partnerships are explicitly defined, and are alternately referred to as “Type II” partnerships, following the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) meeting of 2002. The WSSD Implementation Plan2 reads, in part:

We recognize that the implementation of the outcomes of the Summit… should involve all relevant actors through partnerships, especially between Governments of the North and South, on the one hand, and between Governments and major groups, on the other, to achieve the widely shared goals of sustainable development…. [S]uch partnerships are key to pursuing sustainable development in a globalizing world.

The UN developed a set of “guiding principles” for these partnerships which themselves are recognized as outcomes of the WSSD. Briefly, the guidance is that formally recognized partnerships:


The UN Commission on Sustainable Development has given extensive attention to the issue of partnerships for sustainable development. Reference:


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