Expanding the United Nations’ partnerships — with Governments, business, the philanthropic community, civil society and academia — would be central to effectively implement the new development agenda, Martin Sajdik, President of the Economic and Social Council, told the 54-member body today, as delegates evaluated how to harness their potential, including by setting up voluntary review mechanisms to assess results.

“It will be important to consider how best to channel the valuable contributions and expertise of stakeholders in advancing the implementation of the new sustainable development goals,” Mr. Sajdik (Austria) said, opening a half-day special event entitled, “Multi-stakeholder partnerships:  Making them work for the Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

The last two decades had seen a “mushrooming” of such collaborations, he said.  They had become an integral part of the Organization’s work and they were rarely the same:  they could have different structures and characteristics, employ different monitoring and review mechanisms, and/or choose to include reporting requirements.  While they were important on a global level, what really mattered was what citizens noticed at the national level.

For that, he said, voluntary review mechanisms were needed.  Such a platform could allow Governments to take stock of the role, trends, innovations and financing of multi-stakeholder partnerships.  At the same time, he cautioned against putting in place too many different implementation and review mechanisms, which would result in a loss of oversight.  Lessons learned from today’s discussions could provide ideas for a possible framework for reviewing and evaluating partnerships in the post-2015 period.

The day featured two panel discussions:  the first, moderated by Michael Shank, Climate Nexus’ Director of Media Strategy, considered how partnerships could best be aligned to the post-2015 development agenda.  A common vision and common goals were important, said Mr. Shank in opening remarks, as were “accountable aims and assets” — transparency, measurable goals, and sufficient human and financial resources.

The second panel, moderated by Raj Kumar, Co-Founder and President of Devex, highlighted elements of successful partnerships that could be extracted to help define a partnership framework for the post-2015 era.  Thinking about the future, Mr. Kumar said, required structures that brought together various actors.  It also meant identifying how to support partnerships, pinpointing issues that needed top-down attention, or bottom-up action.

Throughout, delegates weighed the criteria needed to align global partnerships with the post-2015 development agenda, raising questions about where to “house” the oversight of those collaborations and how to shape that monitoring architecture.  Questions also centred on the relationship between the private and public sectors, particularly around financing, as well as on how to avoid conflicts of interests, especially among different United Nations bodies

In closing remarks, Mr. Sajdic said today’s debate offered important ideas ahead of the Council’s annual Forum on Partnership, to be held on 28 May.

Dialogue on Aligning Partnerships with Post-2015 Development Agenda

The first dialogue this morning was moderated by Michael Shank, Director of Media Strategy at Climate Nexus.  It featured: Klaus Leisinger, Founder and President of the Global Values Alliance Foundation; Charles Badenoch, Vice-President for Global Advocacy at World Vision; and Hesphina Rukato, Founding Director of the Centre for African Development Solutions.

Opening the discussion, Mr. SHANK raised the question of whether partnerships for development were working.  In order to ensure that they did, he said, “appreciative inquiry” was needed to bring all parties to the table.  A common vision and common goals were important, as were “accountable aims and assets” — transparency, measurable goals, and sufficient human and financial resources.  In addition, dispute mechanisms were critical, as conflict was unavoidable in partnerships.  Partners needed to work continuously to build trust and legitimacy.  Strong facilitation throughout the process was needed, as were binding rules with external monitoring.

Mr. LEISINGER said that there was broad agreement that partnerships could continue to bring about innovative solutions.  They helped to build bridges between different constituencies.  In order to create successful partnerships, management had to allocate appropriate time and input, which sent a strong message from the top.  The post-2015 development agenda was not a business-as-usual approach, especially at the “meta level”, he said.  Many issues were evolving quickly, and different stakeholders defined problems in multiple ways.  If the international community wanted to succeed, he said, it needed “to be sure that we have shared values”, and stakeholders should understand each other’s perspectives on the problems.

Mr. BADENOCH agreed that a business-as-usual scenario was no longer acceptable.  Cross-sector partnerships were among the primary means by which innovation could be delivered. “We urgently need a broad range of partnerships at all levels,” he said, stressing that those needed to reach who the Millennium Development Goals had left behind — the most vulnerable.  He pointed to three important issues:  efficient, effective, Government-led multi-stakeholder platforms; strong, specific areas of accountability; and building the capacity of all actors.  “Partnering is not easy,” he said, adding that all sectors needed to strengthen their capacity to partner.

Speaking via video link from Harare, Zimbabwe, Ms. RUKATO said that she had been involved in an assessment in how far Southern Africa had come in implementing the World Summit on Sustainable Development outcomes.  From that experience, she said, she felt that continuous commitment to agreed development targets was needed, as was sustainable resource flows.  The focus had been more on processes and less on impact, which had hampered the achievement of the Goals on the ground.  One area where there had been success was peace and security.  For example, the Ebola crisis had “really brought everyone together”, including civil society and the private sector.  While national ownership of the sustainable development goals, especially in Africa, was crucial, all partners should focus on issues such as capacity-building and technology transfer.

Mr. SHANK posed three questions:  which criteria were needed to align partnerships with sustainable development goals; where the oversight of the post-2015 development agenda should be housed; and what the architecture of that oversight should look like.

In response, Mr. BADENOCH stressed that partnerships with common values took time to build.  On architecture, he said that national platforms for all of the sustainable development goals were needed in-country, but that a global platform for each was also needed.

Mr. LEISINGER agreed that transparency, accountability and time were needed to build partnerships to achieve the sustainable development goals.  “Let’s take the time to understand each other,” he said, adding that different partners brought a diversity of views and skillsets.  “The oversight should be at the United Nations,” he added, pointing to the Global Compact as an example of an international architecture.

Ms. RUKATO said impact and ownership were two criteria that needed to be aligned on a day-to-day basis in order for partnerships to truly help achieve the sustainable development goals.  Governments should bring together stakeholders on the national level, but should report regularly to a regional platform and eventually to the United Nations.

In the ensuing dialogue, several Government representatives agreed with the need for a bottom-up approach that was citizen-centred, as well as with the notion that the sustainable development agenda should be monitored and assessed at the global level under the auspices of the United Nations.

The representative of Brazil said that the new agenda was about people, planet and prosperity.  “It is nothing like the [Millennium Development Goals],” he said; it was about human rights and involved all countries.  It was important to understand the scope of what the world was trying to achieve, he stressed.

The representative of the European Union Delegation underscored that Governments could not achieve the sustainable development goals by themselves, and that new channels of partnerships were needed.

Switzerland’s delegate pointed to the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development as an example of architecture to house the post-2015 development agenda, and raised the question of how to “further refine” such global oversight mechanisms in order to ensure that all stakeholders participated actively.

Representatives from the Republic of Korea and the International Chamber of Commerce also participated in the dialogue.