We have made significant progress against the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) targets, but as the 2015 deadline is fast approaching, large gaps remain to be filled. And while everyone in the global development community agrees that global cross-sector partnerships and large collaborative efforts are the only way to meet the scale of the global challenges we face, we haven’t looked enough at how they work best. So as we are discussing the post-2015 development agenda, let’s pause for a moment and ask:
How can we empower global partnerships to achieve the transformational change we need for a better future in a post-2015 world? How can they best mobilize the international community, while also driving measurable progress on the ground?
In Shaping Global Partnerships for a Post-2015 World, we share lessons and best practices from six diverse initiatives on how to apply the principles of collective impact to set global cross-sector efforts up for success.
At the core of the solution is a strong backbone system or supporting infrastructure that acts as the ‘glue’ holding the partnership together, as in any collective impact effort. What’s different for global partnerships is that coordination needs to happen at multiple levels, from the global to the local level, with sometimes an additional regional layer in between. Hence there needs to be a clear and deliberate division of labor to make the system work as effectively as possible. For example, the global team focuses more on defining a high level framework for action toward a common agenda and defining shared metrics while the local backbone organizations coordinate implementing partners in specific locations. On the other hand, ensuring communication across and between the layers to share knowledge and build trust is the responsibility of all backbone leaders.
The article offers a first blueprint for designing successful global partnerships along the functions of strategy, measurement, implementation, and communication, laying out the key roles at each backbone level using examples from six diverse initiatives:
Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM)
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)
Global Road Safety Partnership
World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture
Global Partnership for Education
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
Of course, a prerequisite for a functioning backbone system is that it has adequate funding and strong governance to ensure legitimacy and ownership at all levels. Forward-looking funders of collective impact efforts have understood that investing into the right support infrastructure directly drives impact on the ground, and gives us a real chance of effecting large-scale and lasting change.
Read Shaping Global Partnerships for a Post-2015 World and let us know what you think. We look forward to continuing the conversation.