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  • Are voluntary in nature

  • Do not replace international commitments made by governments

  • Attempt to link global sustainable development goals with local capacity building

  • Incorporate the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainable development

  • Involve partners from various sectors: governments, local groups, non-governmental institutions, private sector partners, and international institutions

  • Are transparent and make partners accountable

  • Have clear funding strategies and mechanisms

  • Seek broad, international impacts due to local/regional results3

Partnerships formed in preparation for—and in the wake of—WSSD were registered formally with the CSD, and constitute a core of more than 400 partnerships. However, as is discussed in Chapter VII, this group of partnerships is a sampling of the tens of thousands of similar-style voluntary arrangements that are in use at scales from local to global. Thus, the steering committee elected to use a more nuanced working definition of partnership, so as to include examples of the countless partnerships not formally registered with the CSD.

A partnership was defined as actors from different sectors (thereby excluding cooperation within a sector; e.g., business to business) voluntarily coming together to jointly produce what no single actor could effectively produce on its own. This idea of so-called co-production was an important element in considering how partnerships formed, operated, and measured outcomes. Moreover, the steering committee distinguished partnerships from more traditional donor–grantee or contractual relationships, noting that several of these had been recast as “old wine in new bottles” as the partnership mechanism gained favor. While these relationships still hold value and in some cases may be a preferred approach, the committee’s intent was to examine what it considered to be a new and more experimental approach, where partners blur or eliminate those traditional lines, and relationships are characterized by more give and take and cross-sector dialogue, and less inequality or power imbalance (though these are still major challenges). The steering committee also realized that its definition of partnerships applied to arrangements in which even the partners might prefer an alternate term (e.g., alliance) or no term at all. However, this seemed more an issue of semantics and did not take away from the fact that efforts that fit the committee’s working definition were likely to contain lessons more broadly applicable to the field.



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