The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Partnership Forum will hold its annual session at UN headquarters on 11 April 2019. This year it will focus on partnership efforts supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2030 Agenda is the subject of review by the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) annually under ECOSOC and at summit level every four years (including 2019) under the auspices of the UN’s highest political body, the General Assembly.
The HLPF has a multiyear programme clustering the SDGs year by year but SDG 17, essential for the implementation of all SDGs, is reviewed every year. Framed as a goal to “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development”, what was conceived as a global partnership led by States is being re-interpreted to emphasize partnerships with as many actors as possible. However, this shift has not been guided or governed by principles, criteria, and independent assessment and oversight. The 2030 Agenda indicator by which to assess the value of multi-stakeholder partnerships, which was meant to build on “experience and resourcing strategies”, measures only financial resources (17.17.1). This quantity not quality approach favours big business and big NGOs.