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BLOG 2: Principles and Guidance Enshrined in Existing UN Decisions on MSPs

Blog Mini Series on Multi-stakeholder Partnerships for Sustainable Development
By Minu Hemmati and Felix Dodds

Blog 1: Definitions of MSPs and Related Issues: Providing definitions of key terms in the debate on multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development.
Blog 2: Principles and Guidance Enshrined in Existing UN Decisions on MSPs: Looking at the existing agreements and summarize the guidance provided so far in UN decisions and resolutions.
Blog 3: Possible Additions to Enhance Guidance and Oversight for MSPs: Making suggestions how the guidance provided in previous resolutions could be updated and strengthened in terms of practical implementation.

BLOG 2: Principles and Guidance Enshrined in Existing UN Decisions on MSPs
The most comprehensive UN decision on partnerships to date is contained in paragraphs 21-24 of the ECOSOC decision at its 61st session in 2003 (see below).
We are also listing other relevant UN decisions and resolutions, such as the UNGA global partnerships resolutions.
What are the guiding principles contained in these decisions?
We summarize them like this:
Main Principles in the Decisions
  • Voluntary nature: actors and stakeholders come together in partnerships at their free will, and with everyone benefitting in ways they desire and need
  • Transparency: public announcements; registration; regular reporting
  • Credibility: putting announced activities into practice and reaching stated objectives
  • Accountability: exchanging relevant information with governments and other stakeholders; regular reporting
  • Participation: open and participatory in nature
  • Multi-stakeholder, i.e. including three or more stakeholders in the partnership
  • Reflecting sectoral and geographical balance (as appropriate, depending on the partnership)
  • Integrating the three pillars of sustainable development: ecological, economic, and social
  • Resulting in technology transfer and capacity building in developing countries (as appropriate, depending on the partnership)
  • Making a genuine, concrete, additional contribution to agreed sustainable development goals
  • Adhering to agreed plans and priorities at national level
  • Conforming to intergovernmental agreed mandates
  • Being based on predictable and sustained financial resources while not drawing funds away from other agreed mandates
  • Aiming at transforming our world towards sustainable development

This is what the international community has articulated that it wants to see in terms of multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development.
In other words: Multi-stakeholder partnerships like this shall help realize sustainable development.
RESOURCES
ECOSOC Resolution 2003/61
“The Economic and Social Council, (…)
21. Recalls that the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation designated the Commission to serve as the focal point for discussion on partnerships that promote sustainable development, and reiterates that partnerships, as voluntary multi-stakeholder initiatives, contribute to the implementation of intergovernmental commitments in Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. They are a complement to, but not intended to substitute for, those commitments;
22. Stresses that partnerships in the context of the World Summit on Sustainable Development process and its follow-up should be developed and implemented in accordance with the following criteria and guidelines, taking note in that regard of the preliminary work undertaken on partnerships during the preparatory process for the Summit, including the Bali guiding principles, and General Assembly resolution 56/76 of 11 December 2001:
(a) Partnerships are voluntary initiatives undertaken by Governments and relevant stakeholders, such as major groups and institutional stakeholders;
(b) Partnerships should contribute to the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, and should not divert resources from the commitments contained in those agreements;
(c) Partnerships are not intended to substitute commitments made by Governments but to supplement the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation;
(d) Partnerships should add concrete value to the implementation process and should be new, that is, they should not merely reflect existing arrangements;
(e) Partnerships should bear in mind the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in their design and implementation;
(f) Partnerships should be based on predictable and sustained resources for their implementation, should include the mobilization of new resources and, where relevant, should result in the transfer of technology to, and capacity-building in, developing countries;
(g) It is desirable that partnerships have a sectoral and geographical balance;
(h) Partnerships should be designed and implemented in a transparent and accountable manner. In that regard, they should exchange relevant information with Governments and other relevant stakeholders;
(i) Partnerships should be publicly announced with the intention of sharing the specific contribution that they make to the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation;
(j) Partnerships should be consistent with national laws and national strategies for the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, as well as the priorities of countries where their implementation takes place;
(k) The leading partner of a partnership initiative should inform the national focal point for sustainable development of the involved country/countries about the initiation and progress of the partnership, and all partners should bear in mind the guidance provided by Governments;
(l) The involvement of international institutions and United Nations funds, programmes and agencies in partnerships should conform to intergovernmentally agreed mandates and should not lead to the diversion to partnerships of resources otherwise allocated for their mandated programmes;
23. Decides that providing information and reporting by partnerships registered with the Commission should be transparent, participatory and credible, taking into account the following elements:
(a) The registration of partnerships should be voluntary and should be based on written reporting to the Commission, taking into account the provisions specified above. Reporting by partnerships should focus on their contribution to the implementation of the goals, objectives and targets of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation;
(b) Partnerships should submit a regular report, preferably at least on a biennial basis;
(c) The Secretariat is requested to make information available on partnerships, including their reports, through a database accessible to all interested parties, including through the Commission web site and other means;
(d) The Secretariat is requested to produce a summary report containing synthesized information on partnerships for consideration by the Commission, in accordance with its programme and organization of work, noting the particular relevance of such reports in review years;
(e) The Commission, during review years, should discuss the contribution of partnerships towards supporting the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation with a view to sharing lessons learned and best practices, identifying and addressing problems, gaps and constraints, and providing further guidance, including on reporting, during policy years, as necessary;
24. Calls for activities aimed at strengthening partnerships in the context of the Summit process and its follow-up and facilitating new ones, including through such initiatives as partnerships fairs and learning centres, mindful of the importance of sharing information on existing activities, particularly across the United Nations system.”
Other UN Decisions on Partnerships 
2002 (January) UNGA Resolution (56/76) Towards global partnership https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N01/490/02/PDF/N0149002.pdf?OpenElement
2003 (June) UN Commission Decision on Partnerships for Sustainable Development including criteria and guidelines http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/partnerships/partnerships_for_sd.pdf
2004 (February) UNGA Resolution (58/129) Towards global partnerships https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N03/502/32/PDF/N0350232.pdf?OpenElement
2005 (December) UNGA resolution (60/215) Towards global partnerships https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N05/500/50/PDF/N0550050.pdf?OpenElement
2007 (December) UNGA resolution (62/211) Towards global partnerships https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N07/476/43/PDF/N0747643.pdf?OpenElement
2010 (March) UNGA Resolution (64/223) Towards global partnerships http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/64/223
2012 (March) UNGA resolution (66/223 Towards global partnerships http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=%20A/RES/66/223
2014 (February) UNGA resolution (68/234) Towards global partnerships: a principle-based approach to enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/68/234
2015 (December) UNGA resolution 70/224 Towards global partnerships: a principle-based approach to enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/224



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