A new report from Philanthropy University, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and GSVlabs offers recommendations for strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships focused on advancing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the report, SDG Partnerships Agenda 2030: Accelerating Progress (68 pages, PDF), the global community faces a $2.5 trillion annual funding gap with respect to the SDGs and no nation is on track to meet all the goals by 2030. While multi-stakeholder partnerships that bring together the expertise of civil society, the resources of governments, the convening power of philanthropy, and the efficiency of the private sector are critical to advancing progress toward the goals, studies have shown that only about a quarter of existing partnerships are meeting their objectives, while many participants in such partnerships are concerned that their costs in terms of time and money are more burdensome than the costs of non-partnership mechanisms.
To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of multi-stakeholder partnerships, the report details four "calls to action" for stakeholders: recognize and leverage the expertise in communities by including community members early on in defining the problem and developing strategies and accountability mechanisms; expand networks by lowering logistical burdens for new partners, identifying gaps in the existing partner ecosystem, and hiring to better reflect the diversity of the communities served; make every dollar count by leveraging additional capital through cross-sectoral collaboration and making long-term flexible funding commitments; and move from transparency to accountability by opening the books on all aspects of a partnership, including incentive structure, costs, and outcomes, and supporting community-driven data collection and evaluation.
To help overcome barriers to implementation — including resource constraints, misaligned incentives and risk aversion, historical norms and power dynamics, and knowledge gaps — the report outlines next steps for each sector. Taking steps to partner differently, the authors write, will enable stakeholders to leverage the untapped potential of philanthropy as not only a funder but a facilitator, of government as not only an approver but a builder, of civil society organizations not only as implementors but experts, and of the private sector as an accelerator of rather than a barrier to SDG efforts.
"It's imperative we work collaboratively to address the urgent problems facing the world today," said Hilton Foundation president and CEO Peter Laugharn. "Philanthropy can play the critical role of actively identifying where partnership gaps exist. When we reimagine partnerships to work more efficiently — driven by a collaboration between the people most affected and those most accountable for progress — we'll start to see traction across public, private, and government sectors alike."