Tag Archives: partnerships

A new global partnership: the report of the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda


The long awaited report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, entitled A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development, was published just a few days ago on 30th May.  The 27 member panel responsible for the report included representatives from government, business and civil society from all regions of the world. Their  optimistic report suggests that we can and must eliminate extreme poverty by 2030.

Unfortunately, as evidenced in the title of the report itself, this has been a missed opportunity, and the new agenda will do little to change the lives of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people.  It is more of the same, rather than a radical departure from the MDG consensus of the last 15 years.  By retaining a largely absolute definition of poverty, and claiming that it actually can be eliminated through economic growth, this agenda will serve further to increase inequalities in the interests of the world’s richest individuals and countries.  The focus of the report on the ‘economic’, on the myth of ‘sustainable’ development, and on fundamental misunderstandings about the interests underlying ‘partnerships’ all mean that the proposals will be unable to deliver on the needs of the world’s poorest and most marginalised peoples.

The panel reached consensus on five transformational shifts that it claimed are necessary to achieve the elimination of poverty:

  1. Leave No One Behind: The MDGs aimed to halve extreme poverty (now defined as people earning less than $1.25 a day). The High Level Panel report proposes ending poverty by 2030 – as it says, “We should ensure that no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities”.  This focus on previously excluded groups is indeed a step forward, although there is little agreement on how it can be achieved.
  2. Put Sustainable Development at the Core: The report seeks to bring together the social, economic and environmental aspects of development, focusing especially on a desire to “halt the alarming pace of climate change”.  It is a shame that so little is said about the political and cultural agendas that are such a critical part of ‘development’.  It also fails to recognise the highly contentious character of the notion of “sustainable development” which increasing numbers of people now see as being a contradiction in terms!
  3. Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth: This proposal lies at the heart of the agenda.  The report emphasises that “We call for a quantum leap forward in economic opportunities and a profound economic transformation to end extreme poverty and improve livelihoods”.  From DFID’s overview of the report, this means “a much greater focus on promoting jobs through business and entrepreneurship, infrastructure, education and skills, and trade”. This places the economy rather than social justice, cultural meaning, or political practice at the heart of the development agenda.  Imagine the impact that this high-level transformative shift would be if it had been reworded to read “Transform societies to ensure social justice and equality of opportunity”!
  4. Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all: The report claims that “Freedom from fear, conflict and violence is the most fundamental human right, and the essential foundation for building peaceful and prosperous societies”.  This places the agenda firmly upon a human rights basis, but does little to focus attention on the individual and collective responsibilities that are essential to make this happen.
  5. Forge a new Global Partnership: The report emphasises that “Perhaps the most important transformative shift is towards a new spirit of solidarity, cooperation, and mutual accountability that must underpin the post-2015 agenda”.  I completely agree that partnership is crucial for effective delivery of development interventions, but the report fails sufficiently to address the complexity of delivering partnerships on the ground, and the interests that underlie them.

The illustrative 12 universal goals and 54 national targets associated with the recommendations make interesting reading.  As the report emphasises, “the shape of the post-2015 development agenda cannot be  communicated effectively without offering an example of how goals might be framed”. For ease of information, these are summarised below:

1. End Poverty

  • Bring the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day to zero and reduce by x% theshare of people living below their country’s 2015 national poverty line
  • Increase by x% the share of women and men, communities, and businesses with secure rights to land, property, and other assets
  • Cover x% of people who are poor and vulnerable with social protection systems
  • Build resilience and reduce deaths from natural disasters by x%

2. Empower Girls and Women and Achieve Gender Equality

  • Prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against girls and women
  • End child marriage
  • Ensure equal right of women to own and inherit property, sign a contract, register a business and open a bank account
  • Eliminate discrimination against women in political, economic, and public life

3. Provide Quality Education and Lifelong Learning

  • Increase by x% the proportion of children able to access and complete pre-primary education
  • Ensure every child, regardless of circumstance, completes primary education able to read, write and count well enough to meet minimum learning standards
  • Ensure every child, regardless of circumstance, has access to lower secondary education and increase the proportion of adolescents who achieve recognized and measurable learning outcomes to x%
  • Increase the number of young and adult women and men with the skills, including technical and vocational, needed for work by x%

4. Ensure Healthy Lives

  • End preventable infant and under-5 deaths
  • Increase by x% the proportion of children, adolescents, at-risk adults and older people that are fully vaccinated
  • Decrease the maternal mortality ratio to no more than x per 100,000
  • Ensure universal sexual and reproductive health and rights
  • Reduce the burden of disease from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases and priority non-communicable diseases

5. Ensure Food Security and Good Nutrition

  • End hunger and protect the right of everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, affordable, and nutritious food
  • Reduce stunting by x%, wasting by y%, and anemia by z% for all children under five
  • Increase agricultural productivity by x%, with a focus on sustainably increasing smallholder yields and access to irrigation
  • Adopt sustainable agricultural, ocean and freshwater fishery practices and rebuild designated fish stocks to sustainable levels
  • Reduce postharvest loss and food waste by x%

6. Achieve Universal Access to Water and Sanitation

  • Provide universal access to safe drinking water at home, and in schools, health centers, and refugee camps
  • End open defecation and ensure universal access to sanitation at school and work, and increase access to sanitation at home by x%
  • Bring freshwater withdrawals in line with supply and increase water efficiency in agriculture by x%, industry by y% and urban areas by z%
  • Recycle or treat all municipal and industrial wastewater prior to discharge

7. Secure Sustainable Energy

  • Double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
  • Ensure universal access to modern energy services
  • Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency in buildings, industry, agriculture and transport
  • Phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption

8. Create Jobs, Sustainable Livelihoods, and Equitable Growth

  • Increase the number of good and decent jobs and livelihoods by x
  • Decrease the number of young people not in education, employment or training by x%
  • Strengthen productive capacity by providing universal access to financial services and infrastructure such as transportation and ICT
  • Increase new start-ups by x and value added from new products by y through creating an enabling business environment and boosting entrepreneurship

9. Manage Natural Resource Assets Sustainably

  • Publish and use economic, social and environmental accounts in all governments and major companies
  • Increase consideration of sustainability in x% of government procurements
  • Safeguard ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
  • Reduce deforestation by x% and increase reforestation by y%
  • Improve soil quality, reduce soil erosion by x tonnes and combat desertification

10. Ensure Good Governance and Effective Institutions

  • Publish and use economic, social and environmental accounts in all governments and major companies
  • Increase consideration of sustainability in x% of government procurements
  • Safeguard ecosystems, species and genetic diversity
  • Reduce deforestation by x% and increase reforestation by y%
  • Improve soil quality, reduce soil erosion by x tonnes and combat desertification

11. Ensure Stable and Peaceful Societies

  • Reduce violent deaths per 100,000 by x and eliminate all forms of violence against children
  • Ensure justice institutions are accessible, independent, well-resourced and respect due-process rights
  • Stem the external stressors that lead to conflict, including those related to organised crime
  • Enhance the capacity, professionalism and accountability of the security forces, police and judiciary

12. Create a Global Enabling Environment and Catalyse Long-Term Finance

  • Support an open, fair and development-friendly trading system, substantially reducing trade-distorting measures, including agricultural subsidies, while improving market access of developing country products
  • Implement reforms to ensure stability of the global financial system and encourage stable, long-term private foreign investment
  • Hold the increase in global average temperature below 2⁰ C above pre-industrial levels, in line with international agreements
  • Developed countries that have not done so to make concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7% of gross national product (GNP) as official development assistance to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20% of GNP of developed countries to least developed countries; other countries should move toward voluntary targets for complementary financial assistance
  • Reduce illicit flows and tax evasion and increase stolen-asset recovery by $x
  • Promote collaboration on and access to science, technology, innovation, and development data

As will be clear from this listing, this appears to be something of a “shopping list” reflecting the interests of those who put the agenda together.  The gaps are perhaps as interesting as the things that are actually included in the list!  Given my own interests in the uses (and abuses) of ICTs in and for development, I am particularly disappointed that so little is mentioned about them in the 54 targets listed above (although see Goal 8).  Given the importance of the Internet, and the role of ICTs in the global economy, it is both surprising and disappointing to find so little amongst the goals or targets.  Likewise, whilst women and girls are acknowledged in a specific goal, the 10-15% of the world’s population who are recognised as having some kind of disability are not explicitly mentioned in a target at all.

Given the ‘management’ of the world’s development discourse, it is scarcely surprising that this report has turned out as it has, but I remain deeply saddened and frustrated that this important opportunity has been largely wasted.  Yes, there are of course some good things in the report, but I do wish that there had been the collective will really to address the underlying causes of poverty head on.  Sadly, what I wrote back in 2007 in my paper entitled “No end to poverty” remains as valid today as it did then (for a summary see this blog post)!

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Discussions on educational partnerships


For those interested in education partnerships The Partnering Initiative is convening what should be a very interesting breakfast event next week on 5th June at the Science Museum in London and there are still some places available (details at http://bit.ly/16ppNr7).   Oh yes, and I am moderating a ‘table’ – be warned, it could be controversial!

In essence, the event is designed to explore how collective action can maximise the impact of business investments in education and skills.

As the organisers say, “Education is a fundamental pillar of sustainable development and underpins enduring prosperity and economic growth. Yet, achieving quality ‘Education for All’ remains a major global challenge. There is a growing trend of businesses investing in education and skills both for philanthropic reasons and to help ensure their own long term sustainability. However, businesses have tended to support their own, often isolated projects. Could a move towards stronger collective approaches lead to more effective, transformational delivery of education and skills? How can such approaches be encouraged and supported?”

Speakers include:

  • Ben Dixon – Head of Social Performance, BG Group
  • Olav Seim – Director, Global Partnerships ED/EFA, UNESCO
  • Darren Towers – Head of Sustainability and Environmental Leadership, EDF Energy
  • Professor Timothy Unwin – Secretary General, Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (yes, I think that’s me!)

Places are limited, so please register your interest with jessica.mcghie@iblf.org – do include your name, organisation and job title.

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How to make ICT4D partnerships better deliver real development impacts


The ICT4D Collective hosted a workshop at the WSIS Forum in Geneva today on the key factors colleagues considered to be necessary to overcome four of the most important problems in delivering effective ICT4D partnerships.  The idea for the workshop stemmed from the systematic review of the impact of ICT4D partnerships completed by Marije Geldof, David Grimshaw, Dorothea Kleine and myself for DFID earlier this year.  This highlighted four main areas where further thought was required:

  • How can we best ensure that local communities and interests are involved in partnership implementation?
  • How to ensure that intended development outcomes are really addressed?
  • How to build sustainability and scalability into ICT4D partnerships from the very beginning?
  • What mechanisms can be used to ensure trust, honesty, openness, mutual understanding and respect?

Following an opening presentation by David Grimshaw (Practical Action, and Royal Holloway, University of London), we divided up into four groups (chaired by Paola Uimonen from SPIDER, Peter Drury from Cisco, and Dorothea Kleine and myself from Royal Holloway, University of London), each discussing one of these themes, and the outcome was the following mind map (click on image for larger version) that reflected the collected views of the 30 or so people present, as well as those who joined by WebEx video conferencing services kindly provided by Cisco.


A more detailed .pdf file of the mind-map is available here: WSIS Forum 2011

Thanks to everyone who participated, and helped to make the discussions so interesting.

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The development impact of ICT4D partnerships: join our discussion online at the WSIS Forum


Cisco is generously sponsoring the opportunity for anyone to participate in the session on the Development Impact of Multi-stakeholder Partnerships in ICT4D ( http://groups.itu.int/wsis-forum2011/Agenda.aspx?event=event_60) that the ICT4D Collective is convening from 16.30-18.00 Geneva time (15.30-17.00 UK time) on Tuesday 17th May at the WSIS Forum ( http://groups.itu.int/default.aspx?tabid=856).  Please share this information as widely as possible, so that colleagues across the world can join in our discussions and deliberations.

To join the online discussion, please use the following information (best to try to log-on about ten minutes in advance to download the applet and check the systems are working) :

Meeting Number: 608 639 429
Meeting Password: 123

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To join this meeting (Now from mobile devices!)
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1. Go to https://ciscosales.webex.com/ciscosales/j.php?J=608639429&PW=NYzY4NDE5MjI3
2. Enter the meeting password: 123
3. Click “Join Now”.
4. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

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ALERT:Toll-Free Dial Restrictions for (408) and (919) Area Codes
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The affected toll free numbers are: (866) 432-9903 for the San Jose/Milpitas area and (866) 349-3520 for the RTP area.

Please dial the local access number for your area from the list below:
–  San Jose/Milpitas (408) area:  525-6800
–  RTP (919) area:  392-3330

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To join the teleconference only
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1. Dial into Cisco WebEx (view all Global Access Numbers at
http://cisco.com/en/US/about/doing_business/conferencing/index.html
2. Follow the prompts to enter the Meeting Number (listed above) or Access Code followed by the # sign.

San Jose, CA: +1.408.525.6800  RTP: +1.919.392.3330

US/Canada: +1.866.432.9903  United Kingdom: +44.20.8824.0117

India: +91.80.4350.1111  Germany: +49.619.6773.9002

Japan: +81.3.5763.9394  China: +86.10.8515.5666

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Policy Brief on the Development Impact of ICT4D Partnerships


The Policy Brief resulting from the systematic review report by Marije Geldof, David Grimshaw, Dorothea Kleine and Tim Unwin on the development impact of ICT4D partnerships is now avalable from the R4D website (Policy Brief) and the ICT4D Collective website (Policy Brief).

This emphasises five key findings:

  1. Success is increased when detailed attention is paid to the local context and the involvement of the local community in partnership implementation.
  2. It is important for such partnerships to have clear and agreed intended development out-comes, even where constituent partners may themselves have different reasons for being involved in the partnership.
  3. Sustainability and scalability of the intended development intervention need to be built into partnership design at the very beginning.
  4. Successful partnerships are built on trust, honesty, openness, mutual understanding and respect.
  5. A supportive wider ICT environment needs to be in place, both in terms of policy and infrastructure, if such partnerships are to flourish and deliver effective development outcomes

Link to Full Systematic Review Report on ICT4D Partnerships (.pdf)

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Important new report on the impact of ICT4D partnerships on development


Together with Marije Geldof, David Grimshaw and Dorothea Kleine from the ICT4D Collective, I have just completed a DFID funded systematic review on the development impact of ICT4D partnerships. This is part of the extensive programme of systematic reviews initiated recently by DFID, that draws very largely on the model of such reviews used in the medical sciences.  DFID thus emphasises that ‘Systematic reviews have been used in health, education and social policy to meet this need. Systematic reviews are a well-established and rigorous method to map the evidence base in an unbiased way as possible, assess the quality of the evidence and synthesize it. Systematic reviews can then be mediated in specific ways to make it easier for policy makers and practitioners to rapidly understand the body of evidence and use this as a strong foundation on which to base policy and practice decisions’.  Undertaking the review was both challenging and interesting, and we not only reached substantive conclusions about the role of ICT4D partnerships, but we also made considerable comments about the difficulties in undertaking rigorously defined systematic reviews on topics such as this.

Based on our review of 53 key publications in the field, we had five main substantive conclusions:

  • Success of ICT4D partnerships is increased when detailed attention is paid to the local context and the involvement of the local community in partnership implementation
  • It is important for such partnerships to have clear and agreed intended development outcomes, even where constituent partners may themselves have different reasons for being involved in the partnership
  • Sustainability and scalability of the intended development intervention need to be built into partnership design at the very beginning
  • Successful partnerships are built on trust, honesty, openness, mutual understanding and respect
  • A supportive wider ICT environment needs to be in place, both in terms of policy and infrastructure, if such partnerships are to flourish and deliver effective development outcomes

In terms of our recommendations relating to the actual systematic review methodology, we suggest that

  • When dealing with multidisciplinary issues such as this, it is crucial to retain some flexibility in search strategies, and procedures such as those often adopted in reviews of health interventions may sacrifice real understanding in the name of overly zealous adherence to claimed rigour
  • External reviewers play a crucial role in guaranteeing the quality of such reviews, and they need to be rewarded for their contributions
  • Many of the publications that we reviewed lacked a rigorous account of their research methodology, and we recommend that all funders of development related research should insist that researchers carefully document their methods in all of their publications, so that readers can judge the reliability of the findings
  • Many publications on ICT4D partnerships do not specify either what they mean by partnerships or the real development outcomes that they were pursuing.  It is therefore very difficult to identify the precise impact of partnerships on development.  It may well be that interventions that claim to have benefited from partnerships could have been delivered more effectively through other contractual arrangements

Copy of report (.pdf)

Policy brief (.pdf)

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New guide to good practices in UK-Africa Higher Education partnerships


The Association of Commonwealth Universities’ Africa Unit has just published an excellent short guide on good practices in developing educational partnerships between higher education institutions in Africa and the UK.

As the Africa Unit comments, “The main reason behind the preparation of this Guide … is the lack of knowledge about the scope, nature and depth of partnerships in this area. The Guide does not set out to present a set of universal, objective rules to be followed and which will guarantee success. Instead, it identifies 10 valuable ‘principles of management and good governance’ which have been the driver behind a number of successful and sustainable UK-Africa partnerships, which can inform future partnerships”.

This is a really useful document, full of helpful tips and advice, and anyone considering developing such partnerships should get hold of a copy and read it diligently. The ten key principles that it advocates are:

  1. Shared Ownership
  2. Trust and Transparency
  3. Mutual Understanding of different Cultural and Working Environments
  4. Clear Division of Roles and Responsibilities
  5. Effective and Regular Communication
  6. Joint Strategic Planning and Implementation
  7. Strong Commitment across the board from Staff and Management
  8. Supportive Institutional Infrastructure
  9. Monitoring and Evaluation
  10. Sustainability

As someone who has been actively involved in such partnerships over the last decade, these principles resonate very strongly with my own experiences.  Many thanks to the Africa Unit for expressing them so clearly and succinctly.

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