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34 D+C  e-Paper  August 2016 SDGs More effective partnerships Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will hinge on improving international cooperation. The OECD offers advice. By Hildegard Lingnau For more than 60 years the interna­ tional community has engaged in development cooperation. Although great progress has been made, more needs to be done. It is frustrating that widely agreed principles of effective development co­ ­ operation are still not being generally applied. Major challenges include: ■ ■ conflicting policy goals at national and international levels, ■ ■ fast changing priorities at all levels, ■ ■ poor coordination of various parties and ■ ■ the fragmentation of efforts. For humanity to achieve the SDGs, mat­ ters must improve. The SDGs were adopted in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly. They add up to a uni­ versal, transformative and inclusive global agenda that spells out what must be done to ensure environmen­ tal stability, safeguard peace and end poverty. Success will require bet­ ter global governance, strong mechanisms of accountability and effective international cooperation. To achieve this, partnerships are needed. However, the term “partnership” encompasses a wide range of approaches, structures and purposes. It is impossible to discuss this multitude as a homoge­ nous whole. Moreover, experience tells us that more international partnerships do not automatically translate into more or faster progress. To make partnerships work in prac­ tice, it is necessary to take into account the interests and priorities of the partners involved. It is essential to strike the right balance between the thorough debate and the ability to make fast progress on the ground. The requirements of account­ ability and flexibility both deserve atten­ tion. The OECD’s Development Cooperation Report 2015 (DCR 2015) assesses empiri­ cal evidence and, on this basis, spells out 10 principles for good partnerships. For obvious reasons, it picks up the threads from the Global Partnership for Effec­ tive Development Cooperation (GPEDC), which resulted from a series of high-level forums on aid and development effective­ ness from 2003 to 2011 (see box, p. 35). The DCR 2015 fully endorses the GPEDC insight that global development, and thus the SDG agenda, is not “govern­ ment only” business, but needs “everyone everywhere” to do their jobs. In particu­ lar, the private sector must be involved because of its role concerning invest­ ments, job generation and the use of new technology. Indeed, this year’s DCR (DCR 2016) will assess the SDGs as “business opportunities”. At the same time, civil soci­ ety matters for raising awareness, keeping a check on the public and private sectors and demanding effective global action. The time when governments were considered the main drivers and financiers of development is over. The principles that guide partnerships must now apply to all relevant actors. This is feasible. The DRC 2015 sums up ten lessons to be learned: 1. High-level leadership is needed. Unless top leaders become involved, it is impossible to overcome barriers to action, keep up political momentum and mobilise appropriate public and private resources. 2. A good balance between global strat­ egy and local priorities is essential. If partnerships are not country-led and context specific, they are unlikely to achieve their goals. 3. Duplication and fragmentation of efforts must be avoided. Partnerships should be geared to reducing, rather than increasing complexity. 4. Governance must be inclusive and transparent. All stakeholders must be informed adequately for decision- making, and their voices must be heard. This is the way to build the trust needed to deliver results. 5. It is important to choose a partner­ ship model that fits the challenge to be dealt with. 6. There must be agreement on princi­ ples, targets, implementation plans and enforcement mechanisms. Shared principles result in motivation, and Infectious diseases transcend national borders: fighting the Zika virus in San José, Costa Rica. Photoshot/picture-alliance Tribune