15.03.2016 |

Multi-stakeholder partnerships in the 2030 Agenda

Improving accountability and transparency

by Marianne Beisheim and Nils Simon

This independent research paper was prepared for the 2016 ECOSOC Partnership Forum, commissioned by the UNDESA Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination. A draft version was discussed during an Expert Group Meeting in February 2016.

The recent General Assembly resolution under the agenda item entitled “Towards global partnerships” requests the ECOSOC “to hold during its partnership forum to be held in 2016 a discussion on the best practices and ways to improve, inter alia, transparency, accountability and the sharing of experiences of multi-stakeholder partnerships and on the review and monitoring of those partnerships, including the role of Member States in review and monitoring.” (A/RES/70/224, para. 15) Consequently, the main purpose of this paper is to inform and stimulate this debate.

The structure of the paper is as follows: First, the paper defines and differentiates types of multi-stakeholder partnerships and then identifies research results regarding their successes and/or failures (part 1). Next, it briefly recaps the history of the UN’s involvement in those partnerships and points out recent developments in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (part 2). The third part outlines a variety of options for improving the overall governance and specifically the accountability, transparency, and measurement of results of multi-stakeholder partnerships at the UN. Each section in this part starts with a review of the status-quo and an evaluation of recent research results and then outlines (alternative) options for further improvement. The last part attempts to stimulate the debate on how an integrated architecture and coherent process could look like.

The research results presented in this paper benefit from theoretical and empirical work undertaken in the research project “Transnational Partnerships for Sustainable Development,” which has been carried out as part of the Berlin Research Center SFB700 from 2006 to the present (see especially Beisheim and Liese 2014; Beisheim and Simon 2015; and our other publications at www.sfb-governance.de/ppp). We gratefully acknowledge funding provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Council) in this regard.