Public-Private Partnerships: The Key to Successfully Implementing the SDGs

The Brookings Institution and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently partnered to present a talk on utilizing public-private partnerships (PPPs) in order to effectively implement the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDGs are a list of goals, proposed by the UN, that target issues related to health, poverty, hunger, inequality, education, and climate change. According to the expert panel, partnerships connect decision-makers at the global level with the private sector, local governments, and civil society in an effort to capitalize on their specific strengths and balance their weaknesses.

Bill Gates speaking at a press conference at the end of the GAVI Alliance pledging event
Bill Gates speaking at a press conference at the end of the GAVI Alliance pledging event

For example, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, is a PPP that provides access to vaccines in developing countries. The major players in this alliance consist of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, The World Bank, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Together, these organizations have successfully contributed scientific research, vaccines, and financial tools. According to Gavi, “Since its launch in 2000, [the alliance] has helped developing countries to prevent more than 7 million future deaths…Gavi support has contributed to the immunization of an additional 500 million children.” Gavi’s objectives were strategically implemented to produce results that protect developing populations and improve healthcare, which aligns with SDG 3 that aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

Partnerships are arguably the driving force behind the successful implementation of the SDGs. Governments are often slow and unreliable, while existing institutions like private corporations and civil society organizations have “on the ground” experience navigating the challenges inherent to their industry. The success of a PPP is determined by inclusivity, local implementation and ownership, transparency, accountability, political engagement, and strong focus on results. According to a study conducted by the OECD, “effective partnerships must have strong leadership, be country-led and context specific, apply the right type of action for the challenge, and maintain a clear focus on results.”

The SDGs also focus on more specific goals such as improving infrastructure, conserving oceans, and sustaining energy, which leaves room for partnerships to narrow their focus and innovate, particularly in the private sector. According to Devex, “Business leaders are still trying to understand the concept of sustainability, too, and how to integrate it into their business models.” The ODA method of developed countries donating funds to developing countries is ineffective since monetary aid does not specifically encourage the creation of new and sustainable systems. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Over the past 60 years at least $1 trillion of development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Yet real per-capita income today is lower than it was in the 1970s.” As is often the case, this money is lost in transit and never reaches the local level due to corrupt bureaucracies and weak relations with civil society organizations. Financial contributions from the private sector, when combined with effectual and enabling political leadership, move beyond temporary alleviation to foster a more permanent impact.

Public-private partnerships are a vital part of Goal 16, which seeks to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Ultimately, PPPs allow for a more inclusive and communicative atmosphere conducive to tackling important development issues on a more direct and practical platform that enables self-sufficiency and citizen accountability. If the SDGs are to be achieved, the vital role of PPPs cannot be ignored.


What (and Who) Took Down Polio in India?

Flash back two years or so, to 2009. Polio had largely been eradicated globally, with only a few countries still experiencing the debilitating disease. Unfortunately, India was one of those unlucky countries. With 741 reported cases of polio in 2009 alone, India had the regrettable distinction of having the most cases of any country and,  overall, more than half of the world’s polio infections. The nation struggled to find more effective and reliable ways to combat polio and prevent it from taking a further hold.


Now fast forward to the present. A few days ago, India happily announced that it has had no new cases of polio for the 2011 year, an incredible improvement from the high levels that existed just two years before. These results were almost entirely due to a vast and ambitious effort that sent 2.3 million vaccinators around the country to give 900 million doses of the polio vaccine that prevents the disease. An obvious question comes to mind: how was such a large and complex mission possible, and ultimately successful? Continue reading

Let’s Attend to the Pandemic we Have, Rather than a Potential One

By Jeremiah Norris –  Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

WHO is proposing a Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) plan in the potential event of a global need. PIP covers the implementation of:

  • disease-based surveillance capacities in 52 countries;
  • laboratory strengthening in 75 countries;
  • the establishment of WHO Collaborating Centres in 3 Regions;
  • the expansion of influenza vaccine production in 34 countries;
  • the expansion of potent adjuvant technology for 24 manufacturers;
  • antiviral medicines for 9 million people in poor countries;
  • and vaccines for 138 million people.

Aside from the numerous questions regarding the funding, governance, and operations of such an initiative, one cannot help but wonder why the WHO wants to allocate billions of dollars for a pandemic which has not happened yet, while ignoring the existing and seeming insurmountable problem of non-communicable diseases in developing countries. Continue reading