The public sector cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda alone. Only together with the private sector, academia and civil society can governments and public authorities successfully implement projects such as fighting corruption or building sustainable supply chains.
The importance of partnerships is explicitly stated in SDG 17 “Partnerships for the Goals”. One form of partnership is a multi-stakeholder partnership (MSP). In an MSP, stakeholders from at least three sectors of society work together in a long-term and organized way on equal footing to contribute to the common good.
Ministries and public authorities are central actors in MSPs. They often provide the starting impetus for initiating an MSP and/or provide financial and organizational support. By doing so, the public sector can support the implementation of the SDGs with the support of MSPs. Because of their important role, the public sector can often prioritize the focus and work of MSPs. Since the adoption of the SDGs, the German government in particular has initiated and supported numerous MSPs to implement the SDGs and invited and enabled actors to participate in such partnerships.
This approach, in which actors are invited to cooperate voluntarily in pursuit of non-profit goals, plays an important role in the necessary transformation to sustainability in the economy and society. Participating actors often develop a strong identification within the MSP and their strategies. In the sense of a smart mix, voluntary MSPs are often also seen as complementary to or precursors of laws and regulations. This was for example observable in the development of practical ways of implementing sustainability along global value chains.
Example: State actors in multi-stakeholder partnerships – The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles
In 2013, more than 1.100 people died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory in Bangladesh. Under the impression of this catastrophe, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles was founded in 2014 – on a major initiative from German politics.Today, around half of the German textile market and numerous important civil society groups are represented in the Textile Partnership. The German government is also active in the MSP, with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.