Partnering for a Better Future: How PPPs are advancing the SDGs

Happy Global Partnerships Week! To kick off #GPW2017 today, the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships is pleased to release its annual State of Global Partnerships Report. We called on our colleagues at the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to share the partnerships they have recently built and implemented to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Report highlights 17 partnerships, one for each SDG, and showcases how the U.S. government is leveraging the resources, knowledge, and experiences of private sector partners to tackle the SDGs.

Eliminating global poverty and hunger, creating decent jobs and economic growth, strengthening institutions and combatting corruption: these are just a few of the ambitious goals that 193 countries agreed to target by the year 2030. The SDGs represent a global commitment to a better future that cannot be achieved in isolation. Indeed, no single country, government, or organization can hope to achieve these goals alone. There’s a reason why the final goal – Goal 17 – aims to build partnerships between governments, the private sector, and civil society in support of this global agenda.

Partnerships help us do more. And to prove our point, here are a few examples from the recently released State of Global Partnerships Report 2017. These partnerships include both large, multi-stakeholder initiatives with many U.S. government agencies engaging a diversity of private sector partners and also more focused partnerships led by U.S. embassies in their host countries.

Taking on SDG #2 – Zero Hunger, Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. Through a thriving network of nearly 5,000 public-private partnerships between multiple U.S. government agencies and private companies of all sizes, Feed the Future aims to build long-term food security and to stimulate sustained economic growth both domestically and abroad. In addition to creating thousands of new partnerships, Feed the Future has leveraged more than $600 million in private sector capital and helped generate more than $800 million in new agricultural sales for farmers.

Advancing SDG #15 – Life on Land, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs partnered to address the problem of international wildlife trafficking. The Department of State collaborated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to plan the first Zoohackathon – a weekend-long event where teams of citizen scientists and volunteer technologists gathered to develop technological solutions to help combat wildlife trafficking. On October 7-9, 2016, teams of volunteers met at six renowned conservation zoos around the world to work on problem statement submitted by leading conservation groups and to interact directly with the animals they were working to preserve. In addition to raising awareness around wildlife trafficking, the inaugural event produced 30 new conversation technology products and even fostered new partnerships between participating partners. Similar events will occur annually.

Bringing awareness to SDG #12 – Responsible Consumption and Production, U.S. Embassy Copenhagen partnered with National Aquarium Denmark and the NGO “Plastic Change” to produce a public education exhibition on ocean pollution: Mitigating Plastic Pollution of the Ocean. With the support of the U.S. Embassies and the host governments, the exhibit will travel to Estonia, Portugal, Italy, and Malta in advance of the 2017 EU-hosted Our Ocean conference in Malta. This collaboration between U.S. Embassies and European partners creates public awareness around marine pollution and strengthens U.S. strategic alignment with the EU on environment and health issues.

Finally, we are pleased to announce the winners of the second annual Partnership Excellence Award, which recognizes individuals who have made a strong commitment to the advancement of public-private partnerships at the Department of State or USAID. First, we honor Ambassador-at-Large Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, and Lauren Marks, Director of Private Sector Engagement at the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, for their leadership of the DREAMS partnership and DREAMS Innovation Challenge. The second individual winner is Terence Miller, Chief of the Office of Alternative Development at USAID/Peru, for his integral work on the Peru Cacao Alliance. Finally, we are presenting a group award to Nicole Johnson, Embassy Tallin; Margaret Young, Embassy Lisbon; Megan R. Ihrie, Embassy Libson; Susan Ross, Embassy Valletta; Caron E. De Mars, Embassy Rome; and Kristian (KG) Moore, Embassy Copenhagen for their success with the Mitigating Plastic Pollution of the Oceans exhibit.

These are just several examples of the ingenuity, innovation, and impact of public-private partnerships to advance our common goals for a better future. To see more examples of this exciting work and to learn more about the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, please see the full 2017 State of Global Partnerships Report.

What is your favorite public-private partnership you’ve been involved in? Join the conversation on Twitter this week at #GPW2017 and #Goal17!

Thomas Debass is the Acting Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State where he continues to fulfill his Deputy Special Representative duties: managing the office and providing thought leadership on partnerships related to economic growth, global finance, entrepreneurship, and innovation.