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Friends of Europe published its first policy paper on “The Private Sector and Development” in November 2011. In it, we recognised the key role of public-private partnerships in development cooperation but warned that more information and research was required to make sure such cooperation really worked. Seven years on, it is clear that, slowly but surely, governments, international organisations, the private sector and civil society are beginning to work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Working out the nuts and bolts of such Agenda 2030 coalitions is still not always easy, however.
Most governments and NGOs recognise that the private sector can contribute to long-term sustainable development. Many governments have started consulting the private sector in reviewing their national strategies and progress on the SDGs and are establishing public-private partnerships on SDG implementation. Yet, walking the talk by actually working with business is still relatively new for many development actors. One challenge is the legacy of the negative social and environmental conduct of some private enterprises. On top of bureaucracy and corruption, cultural traditions and norms can also often hinder the implementation of development projects.
This discussion paper brings together the voices of multilateral development agencies, development banks, private business and civil society as they seek to reinforce their cooperation to achieve Agenda 2030. Our selection is not comprehensive. Rather we looked for key players in a restricted number of SDGs including health, water, energy, trade and agriculture. Our focus was on identifying ways in which the different development actors work together in practice, the challenges they encounter and ways in which they find common ground.
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