Enthusiasm and Some Concerns Voiced Over Partnership Proposals
||2 April, New York The idea of using the World
Summit on Sustainable Development as a launching pad for new partnerships
between governments, the private sector, and community and citizen groups
gained considerable momentum during a wide-ranging discussion of the concept at
PrepCom III for the Summit.
The partnership proposals would be one of three outcomes for the Summit, which
will take place in Johannesburg this August, according to Preparatory Committee
Chairman Emil Salim. The result-oriented partnership initiatives, he said,
would be based on and linked to a political declaration and an implementation
programme. In the parlance of the Summit, the implementation programme has come
to be known as a Type I outcome, and the partnerships, Type II. The
partnerships, Salim said, are supposed to address the issue of who is doing
what, where, and with what resources.
The partnership concept is an answer to a question that has long plagued
international conferences, i.e., how to make sure the commitments and the good
intentions expressed at a global meeting translate into tangible action. If
specific actions by specific partners could be announced at Johannesburg, it is
hoped that donors would also steer resources to actions that can achieve
Johannesburg Summit Secretary-General Nitin Desai said, in his address to
PrepCom III, that the partnerships are not independent of the government
agreements, but could help leverage additional resources and "change the
quality of implementation." He said that it may be difficult to work out
all the details of a partnership by the time of the Summit, but the event could
still be an opportunity to announce a statement of intent.
As an example, Salim said, countries could decide, as a Type I agreement, to
commit themselves to maintaining the marine environment. But the problem, he
said, "is after saying this, how are you going to implement it?"
Developing sustainable fisheries, Salim said, requires the involvement of
marine biologists, fishermen and people who can finance the project. "It's
a total package," he said.
Salim said the partnerships could help implement all areas under consideration
by the Summit, and in particular, can help efforts to meet the Millennium
Development Goals a series of commitments to slash the poverty rate by
Jan Kára of the Czech Republic, Co-Chair of the partnership discussions,
said the Type II outcomes are not a replacement for government commitments, but
are complementary. "The concept has been evolving," he said, and the
discussions are part of a continuous process between now and Johannesburg.
Many countries and non-governmental organizations said the initiative still
needed structure, guidelines, monitoring and follow-up.
Spain, speaking for the European Union, said the partnerships could be one of
the main outcomes of the Summit, but they must have a specific scope and a
strong political connection to the governmental commitments. The EU added that
there must be a proper institutional framework for the concept to be a success.
While supporting the principle of partnerships, South Africa cautioned that
these relationships should not be based purely on the relationship between
resource-rich and resource-poor partners, but should be based on a common
future, common values and agreed goals.
The International Chamber of Commerce strongly supported the partnership
initiatives, calling for actions that deliver results rather than procedures.
The ICC representative said that business was collecting flagship examples of
real partnerships, and that new efforts must address all three pillars of
sustainable developmenteconomic growth, social development and
environmental protectionwhile focusing on measurable results that should
be replicable and capable of being scaled up. In addition, he said several
stakeholders must participate in any partnership.
The Third World Network voiced concern that if all stakeholders were lumped
together, those who have money would drive the process. It also voiced worries
that the partnerships, as a non-negotiated initiative, could undermine the main
implementation programme of commitments by governments, and could lack
The Women's Caucus went further, saying that the partnerships concept was not
clear, contained no criteria, and did not consider the impacts of the
initiatives. The Caucus representative asked, "How can we be partners on
an equal footing?" She added that they would not be partners with
transnational corporations and objected to United Nations partnerships with the
Delegates to the preparatory meetings must now work though the concerns that
have been raised and to bring the concept of partnerships into reality on a
scale never before seen.
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Department of Economic and
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24 August 2006