“To deliver better for all people we must engage all stakeholders. Partnership brings results. Together, we can make this world more just, equitable, and prosperous.”
With these words, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed an audience of more than 500 to a high-level event on the margins of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly on Partnering for women, children and adolescents to thrive and transform the world.
Co-organized by Every Woman Every Child, the Global Partnership for Education, Sanitation and Water for All, the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, and Zero Hunger Challenge, the event featured high-level speakers such as Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, and David Nabarro, Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Real Impact can only be achieved by working together
The partnerships who co-organized the event, described as “transformative” by Ki-moon, understand the importance of working with a variety of stakeholders to achieve lasting impact in their fields.
However, the 2030 agenda commits us to breaking down the walls between sectors, as David Nabarro reminded attendees, “partnering as a way of working and as a means of implementation, is at the heart of this agenda.”
President Bachelet reiterated, “partnerships help ensure that future generations reach their full potential because they can be enacted at local, country, and global levels.” “We want to go far,” she continued, “putting the most vulnerable first. So we have to go together.”
We know all too well that the issues of health, food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture, sanitation and education are interconnected, and addressing them collaboratively can improve the lives of millions, especially women, children, and adolescents.
“Progress in one sector, must support progress in others for partnerships to be truly successful,” declared Tony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF.
Turning words into action
We have an ambitious agenda, but now is the time to move from words to actions. To great consensus from the filled room, Kevin Rudd of Sanitation and Water for All commented that the time for high-level panels on the Sustainable Development Goals has passed, “the time has come for those of us who are leaders to show how it can be done, on the ground.”
And we must try new approaches, since business as usual is not enough anymore.
Alice Albright, CEO of GPE, confirmed that we must not be afraid to ask ourselves, “Is somebody out there doing it better?” and if they are, “Find them and work with them!”
After all, as CEO of Java Foods and Scaling Up Nutrition representative Monica Musonda said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got!”
In this spirit, the co-organizers have issued a Partnerships Playbook that outlines common values of effective partnerships, in the hopes that others will join the movement to act together on the 2030 Agenda.
Principles of Partnership
- We are country led:
Our partnerships are driven by committed countries and their national priorities. We commit to ensuring that countries are at the centre of all efforts to ensure sustainability.
- We are rights based:
Our partnerships will act in accordance with a commitment to uphold the equity, equality and rights of all women, men and children, (building upon the firm foundation of United Nations purposes and principles, as set out in the Charter, and the rights based instruments that guide our partnerships)—ensuring that no-one is left behind.
- We are inclusive:
Our partnerships are open to a broad range of stakeholders, including government, civil society, private sector, academia, donors, United Nations agencies—who demonstrate their commitment to our goals and principles. A multi-stakeholder approach is critical for delivering on the promise of the 2030 Agenda.
- We are transparent about our intentions and impact:
Our partnerships commit to establishing rigorous evaluations of the impacts of collective action and the contributions of our individual partners.
- We will be predictable and mutually accountable:
Our partnerships will work towards shared outcomes and uphold and strengthen accountability of our partners’ commitments and actions.
- We will be evidence-based:
We will pursue and support evidence-based priorities that will achieve the greatest sustainable impact for the resources available.
- We will communicate conscientiously:
Across our partners’ countries, sectors and stakeholders we will strive to learn and adapt our ways of working, through the sharing of lessons on what works and what does not—informing progress toward achieving all SDGs.
- We will act with integrity and in an ethical manner:
Our partners will manage personal and institutional conflicts of interest with integrity, be consistent with national laws and national development strategies and plans, and align with the priorities of countries with whom we are working.
- We are mutually respectful:
Our partnerships will collaborate in a way that builds trust and respects the contributions and perspectives of other stakeholders.
- We will do no harm:
We will encourage actions that contribute to improving the well-being of all people, with careful consideration about negative consequences to people and planet, and clear mitigation strategies.