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Report of the Expert Group Meeting “Multi-stakeholder partnerships on implementing the 2030 Agenda: Improving accountability and transparency”

Summary of key ideas and proposals from Partnership Retreat

(full report available here)

The below summarizes the key proposals emerging from the compiled messages above:
A nexus approach should be promoted by the UN and applied by MSPs, reflecting the crosssectoral
nature of the 2030 Agenda.

  • More focus is needed on MSPs at the country-level and MSPs in LDCs and other countries in special situation need to be encouraged.
  • UNDESA could take the lead in mapping partnership initiatives, supported by the Global Compact. The online platform “Partnerships for SDGs” should be improved, including search functions and regular updates. There might however be an issue of capacity.
  • The differentiation between different types of partnerships needs to be further defined and clarified as a first step. It must reflect that partnerships do not only include business, but all relevant stakeholders including philanthropy, NGOs and academia.
  • The GA resolution on “Towards Global Partnerships” could broaden its focus beyond partnerships with the private sector to also include academia, NGOs, philanthropy and other stakeholders.
  • More coordination across the UN system is necessary. A network of multi-stakeholder focal points could be established and could be involved in the preparation of the ECOSOC Partnership Forum.
  • The UN system needs to ensure that principles and guidelines established are respected. There might be a role for the QCPR to set a minimum set of guidelines for the UN’s engagement with partners at the national level.
  • A coherent and strengthened due diligence procedure should be established. A first layer could be to centrally endorse throughout the system a set of overarching guidelines for partnerships, building on already existing guidelines and language from A/RES/70/224. It could specifically also make signing onto the Global Compact principles a requirement for business engagement with the UN. A second layer could complement these guidelines by sector specific guidelines endorsed by specialized agencies.
  • Intergovernmental fora can and should complement each other and apply a holistic approach, rather than creating parallel structures. There should be specific and complementing roles for the GA, ECOSOC and the HLPF as reflected by existing mandates. The various executive boards of funds and programmes could also play a role in providing guidance on MSPs involving the UN organizations over which they have oversight.
  • Leading to the HLPF, a coherent process of review should be put in place, based on the suggestions for monitoring and review. ECOSOC should lead this process.
  • A central reporting mechanism could be established, distinguishing between different types of partnership, with distinct requirements for UN-led partnerships. Reporting should be aligned with guidelines and principles. For mega partnerships, internal monitoring and review mechanisms could be complemented by independent reviews/audits. For partnerships registered on the “Partnerships for SDGs” platform, a lighter reporting process should be put in place, with the option to follow-up and review the listing, but this might require off-line resources.
  • A role for independent or expert bodies should be considered in providing expertise and assistance to intergovernmental fora or the UN system in their monitoring and review of MSPs.
  • Major groups and other stakeholders should have a role in promoting transparency and accountability.
  • A proposal was made to showcase “Champion” partnerships at the ECOSOC Partnership Forum as positive examples for other MSPs. It was also felt that there is a need to establish “safe spaces” for sharing negative results and to promote learning from failure. The Partnership Forum could also be that space. It could also be a creative space to explore new ideas and trends in MSPs.
  • The Global Compact’s communication on progress reporting requirements could be further aligned with the SDGs and discussed at the Partnership Forum.

The way forward

Participants stressed that preserving the integrity of the United Nations, encouraging the collective
efforts of all stakeholders to effectively support national priorities, and ensuring that the partnerships
involving the United Nations are inclusive, transparent and accountable, must be a priority going forward.

The most important and timely next step will be the upcoming ECOSOC Partnership Forum that will
take place on 31 March 2016. The outcome of the EGM will inform the deliberations of the Partnership Forum, both the discussion of an integrated approach through cross-sectoral partnerships for promoting multiple SDGs, and also the discussion on improving accountability and transparency of multi-stakeholder partnerships supporting the 2030 Agenda, including the role of Member States. It was felt that the ECOSOC Partnership Forum should deliver concrete actions on the way forward.

The summary of the upcoming ECOSOC partnership forum’s deliberations should be shared with the
High Level Political Forum and the high-level segment of the Council. Additionally, the ECOSOC Dialogue on the Longer-term Positioning of the UN Development System could benefit from discussions held during the ECOSOC partnership forum.

It was further proposed that there might be a role for the Friends of Governance for Sustainable
Development in engaging and coordinating various stakeholders in their engagement on the question of the accountability and transparency of MSPs.

A follow-up EGM was considered useful to review progress made on the various areas addressed.

Many expressed the view that the EGM was a positive experience for participants and benefitted
especially from exchanges between Member States, academic experts, representatives of civil society, as well as UN officials. It was felt that it would be important to include a wider range of stakeholders in future deliberations on the role of MSPs in implementing the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.


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