My comments on UNECE’s approach to developing an Impact Assessment Tool to Score PPP Projects

Thanks for inviting me to join this panel on the UNECE  proposed Impact Assessment Tool to Score PPP Projects and I am so sorry I can’t be there in person but I’m at another UN workshop in New York on the Lessons Learnt from the 1st cycle of the High-Level Political Forum. I will draw some of this presentation from my soon to published new book (June 2019) Stakeholder Democracy: Represented Democracy in a Time of Fear written with an-Gustav Strandenaes, Carolina Duque Chopitea, Minu Hemmati, Susanne Salz, Bernd Lakemeier, Laura Schmitz, and Jana Borkenhagen. Advance orders here.

This year will be critical to re-adjusting our activities in light of the first Heads of State review of the 2030 Agenda forSustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Financing forDevelopment. There is no question we are behind the curve as far as delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The key outcome in September must be to give a roadmap to the midterm review in 2023 - focussing on delivering on the Means of Implementation and a major part of that will be financing the SDGs.

Questions that need answering include:
  • Where are the successful projects that can be replicated and scaled up?
  • What can we do to bring private sector financing to align with delivering the SDGs?
  • How can we ensure Public-Private Partnerships are in line with the SDGs?
I have over the past two years supported the work undertaken by UNECE on People-first PPPs for the UN 2030 Agenda forSustainable Development in light of the lack of any obvious intent in New York for member states to do this globally.

As I’ve engaged in this process, I have come to the conclusion that the bottom up approach to this may actually be a far better way of developing relevant Principles of PPPs for SDGs. An approach that doesn’t preclude those regional approaches coming together in the future as even a framework convention.

It is with great pleasure to see the other UN Regional Commissions engaging and it's my hope this will become a real collaborative and learning approach between these regional commissions.
Four of the Regional Commission Executive Secretaries at the PPP Forum committing to working together, The fifth there in spirit 

There is one over-riding comment I want to make in terminology, and some of you may have heard me do this before, but it is vital to get it right now and not have to deal with the mistaken use of terms in the future when mistakes will have been made.

Stakeholders, NGOs and Civil Society Organizations do not mean the same thing.

I cannot underline this enough.

I am happy to give people very good examples of how disastrous processes have gone by mixing these terms up. I would insist that the ONLY term used here should be stakeholder.

If you use NGOs it doesn’t include academics, Indigenous Peoples, trade unions, youth, women, industry, local government, some farmers etc

If you use Civil Society Organizations is doesn’t include academics, Indigenous Peoples, trade unions, industry, local government either and reduces the need to take in a gender perspective or a next generation perspective.

Stakeholder is the most inclusive and shouldn’t have it after a list - the list is never complete and confuses people. What we should have in any text is a commitment ALWAYS to do a stakeholder mapping in relation to ANY PPP to ensure that the right stakeholders are included.

For the panel there were five questions we were asked to address.

On what basis should we select the projects to be used to develop the tool?

The reality is that there are many SDG areas that could have projects on PPPs and therefore could be used to develop the tool. I want to make four suggestions:

1.     My strong advice is that this focuses on infrastructure and urban development. That we steer away from engaging in areas which are more politically controversial such as water, health or education. Let us learn lessons in areas that there is broad support for PPPs and not add to the problems by working in areas which are controversial.

2.     Choosing projects of a similar focus will gain the best feedback in a pilot scheme

3.     If the regional commissions are onboard then it would be good to have some from each region in the process of developing the tool.  This would ensure the richest input. If not, then I would suggest that the choice is made to balance countries that are at different levels of development within UNECE.

Companies engaged must be a UN Global Compact company and have at least secured a 50% delivery on the CorporateBenchmarking on Human Rights. Id put it higher than this but then there would be few companies that could be in a pilot.

As the World Benchmarking Alliance will start to produce their benchmarking on other SDG areas soon these need to be added in as factors for a company to be part of the SDG for PPP family. Securing a high score in benchmarking would then be linked to being recognised as a company that should engage in PPPs for SDGs

What do the existing evaluation methodologies aim to address?

I haven’t worked in PPP evaluation but I have worked with Multi-Stakeholder Partnership evaluation and so drawing on this. Important success factors have included joint learning, continuous development, and improvements.

This continuous learning is to ensure that as the project develops it can adjust and manage expectations.

Any evaluation needs to be against the achievement of objectives, assessment of impacts – including on delivering the relevant SDGs and the interlinkages between different SDGs and the examination of the delivery against the commitment for stakeholder engagement in decision making throughout.

How effective have they been? What weaknesses and gaps have been identified?

In the MSP space many Partnerships have been failures some elements related to weaknesses and gaps have included:

·       Not setting strategic as well as operational goals – From the outset, partners should be encouraged to reflect on and articulate they're strategic as well as operational goals.
·       Not developing and adhere to strict performance standards, monitoring, and reporting requirements throughout
·       Lack of the active involvement of all the relevant stakeholders throughout
·       A lack of funding and capacity building for the weaker stakeholders
·       A lack of proper management
·       A lack of transparency in the project and to the wider community
·       A lack of good development metrics,

As far as key lessons learn and best practices are concerned some things to consider include and here, I will draw from the work of Communitas Coalitions own Draft Principles for Public-Private Partnerships Developed for the Habitat III Conference:

·       The need for a “sound enabling environment” – clearly following the rule of law, high standards of public and corporate governance including: fair competition laws, transparency, accountability and enforcement mechanisms, and adequate anti-corruption provisions.
·       Public authority and stakeholders must have the capacity to negotiate and independently oversee implementation of PPP on an equal basis with the private sector counterparts.
·       Public authorities should evaluate the potential life-cycle costs, benefits, and risks of a range of available infrastructure financing and management alternatives, including a careful “Value for Money” analysis, comparing the financial impacts of the PPP option against those of a traditional public financing option.
·       Transparency measures should be maintained throughout the lifecycle of the project, including full and proactive public disclosure of PPP agreements, with specific accountability instruments that establish performance-based responsibilities of all parties.
·       Meaningful and sustained consultation with and participation of end-users and other (local) stakeholders in decision making through a deliberative process, from design to implementation and evaluation, including prior to infrastructure project initiation.

How can some of the existing work on evaluation schemes be integrated in the new tool?

·       Clear, independent performance monitoring and reporting mechanisms must be identified, including provisions to monitor private partner(s)’ observance of human rights principles and coherence with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
·       Include clear, mutually acceptable dispute resolution procedures as well as defined mechanisms for renegotiation, with full public disclosure of renegotiation process and results.
·       Clearly identify the grounds and procedures for terminating the partnership, with full disclosure of the terms of termination within the PPP agreement.

Final comment
Time is not on our side we need to accelerate the work on the SDGs so that progress is on time by the mid-term review in 2023.  It was always expected that the first four years would be slower money wasn’t allocated projects were not SDG focused and organizations needed to reinvent themselves to serve this new agenda. Much of this has now happened and so what we need is an implementation agenda that is based on the values in the 2030 agenda. This work on People First has tried to interpret what that might look like for PPPs. I urge the other UN regional Commissions to engage in a similar process. The regional commissions to work together and maybe by 2023 or 2027 at the latest for their individual PPPs for SDG Principles to then be drawn into a global agreement based on this bottom-up approach. An approach which is also based on ensuring that no company that is not delivering on the SDGs and the UNGC Principles has a space in the PPP world. That will ensure that key companies reform their practices to support sustainable development.


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