International UNECE PPP Forum for the SDGs


Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) have been widely identified as a key mechanism for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is primarily because of the huge price tag associated with achieving many of the targets, such as universal health care, access to clean, safe water, and energy for all, etc., that cannot be financed exclusively by the public purse. However, despite their critical role, there is neither a clear definition of the term 'PPP', nor models of PPPs that exemplify what is required if the SDGs are to be achieved.

It also needs to be borne in mind that, for the most part, PPPs have been elaborated by developed countries, in order to increase 'value for money' and improve efficiency - not specifically as a tool for poverty alleviation or social development. Moreover, many people still regard PPPs with considerable scepticism, arguing that PPPs suffer from a 'trust deficit' because of their alleged lack of transparency and accountability and this has led to the call for PPPs that are 'people first'.

Accordingly, while there is a quite a lot of information on national best practices for PPP models in developed countries such as the UK, France, Australia, Canada, etc. that have given value for money, there is much less information on PPP models that can be the vehicle for achieving the United Nations' very ambitious and transformational agenda for eliminating extreme poverty by 2030.

To fill this gap, and to identify the requirements and the models needed, the UNECE, working with international partners, is elaborating international standards and recommendations for policy makers especially in developing countries and transition economies, on how to use PPPs to achieve the SDGs. This task will contribute to the entire spectrum of sectors mentioned in the SDGs, namely: water and sanitation, renewable energy, smart and sustainable cities, health and so on. In addition, UNECE is developing standards and recommendations in the area of law, policy and institutions that are at the core and underpin all types of PPPs. This standardsmaking work is carried out by Specialist Centres focusing on specific thematic areas who identify best practices and by international project teams that meet virtually and using these best practices, elaborate these materials into standards or recommendations under the UNECE’s established procedures.

At a recent meeting of the Specialist Centres and Project Teams held in Barcelona, Spain, it was agreed that the PPP Specialist Centres (See Boxes 2 and 3) would have a strong supporting role in the development of standards in their respective thematic area. It was also agreed to hold a PPP Forum where all the participants from the public and private sectors who are active in the standards and recommendation process for the SDGs might gather to advance the work on the standards. It was further agreed to invite also those who tend to be outside this process but who still have extremely important experiences and views to relate, namely NGOs and other agencies. The proposal to hold a PPP Forum was also endorsed by the Bureau of the Team of Specialists on PPPs.

UNECE International PPP Centre of Excellence

The UNECE International PPP Centre of Excellence (ICoE) is a leading body within the UN advancing PPPs for the SDGs. It consists of Specialist Centres on specific sectors, international Project Teams developing guidelines, practices and standards for Governments working with colleagues from the World Bank and the others IFIs. The PPP topics by the ICoE cover a whole spectrum of global problems, climate change, the move to a low carbon economy, poverty eradication and smart and sustainable cites and so on, that are at the forefront of the UN 2030 Agenda.

International UNECE PPP Forum for the SDGs

The Forum will consist of a plenary discussion held under the auspices of the International Specialist Centre of Excellence on PPP Law, Policy and Institutions in France that is leading the development of standards in areas such as Zero Tolerance to Corruption. In parallel a number of different work streams will take place with a focus on health, sustainable transport and logistics, water and sanitation, water management and renewable energy. The work streams are supported by the respective International Centres based in China, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, and Spain.

Other high level sessions will be held including:

  • A high level debate on the role of PPPs in advancing the UN 2030 Agenda; and an open platform where governments and the private sector can present inspiring practical projects that address the SDGs and which can inspire other PPPs practitioners around the world.
  • A special induction for newcomers to the Forum and the work of Centres and Project Teams in advancing the SDGs will also be held in the form of a Workshop.

Working as one UN in the promotion of people focused PPPs

The UNECE undertakes the work on PPP as one UN and partners with UNITAR, UNDP and other UN agencies including UNESCAP. The Forum will provide opportunities to UN bodies such as UNITAR and the Annemasse declaration on PPPs.

Technical Steering Committee

The Forum is a working meeting under the direction of a Technical Steering Committee, consisting of members of the Bureau of the UNECE Team of Specialists on PPPs, heads of the Centres of Excellence associated with the programme, Project Team Leaders and invited NGOs. They will report to the plenary at the beginning and the end of the Forum on progress in the development of the standards.

Registration and further information

Attendance at the International Forum is free of charge and interested persons should complete the online registration. Watch the video for further background information.