Partnerships between public and non-state actors for the provision of collective goods have become important instruments for addressing core issues on the sustainable development agenda such as health, education, humanitarian issues, or clean energy. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasize the role of partnerships in the implementation of sustainability. Yet, while academic literature provides valuable insights on the rise of partnerships, we know considerably less about their variable effectiveness and impact. Do partnerships simply repackage existing practices with effect and accountability, or do they contribute new and additional instruments and sustainable development outcomes?
‘Effectiveness of Partnerships for Advancing the SDGs: Behavioural Pathways and Impacts‘ is a 2-year research project, funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) and coordinated by the Centre for International Environmental Studies at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, which draws on political science, economics, management studies and public policy to advance the study of partnerships effectiveness with respect to the SDGs. The main research questions guiding the project are: How can we conceptualise and operationalise the effectiveness for partnerships? Through what mechanisms are partnership effects likely to materialise? What are the sources and limitations of the effectiveness of partnerships for sustainability? How do partnership interact with other forms of governance at the international and subnational level to influence results for the SDGs?
The project, which is expected to last until Fall 2019, is contributing to scientific and practical progress by providing what is arguably the first inter-disciplinary, integrated and comparative approach and data on the effectiveness of partnerships for sustainable development. Its overarching objective is to develop a new research agenda, which is both of theoretical importance for understanding complex governance systems and of pressing policy significance for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed by the United Nations in September 2015.