Multistakeholder partnerships are considered critical to the 2030 Agenda. This Panel considers the ways in which partnerships may/may not produce transformative spaces for partners; co-produce transformative solutions to development problems; or reproduce existing power asymmetries.
A series of global summits in 2015 hammered out the 2030 Agenda, which includes a number of agreements to address development financing (July), sustainable development (SDGs: September) and climate change (December). Multi-stakeholder partnerships that bring together representatives from public, private and third sectors are often presented as an essential ingredient for the fair implementation of this global agenda, mirroring the participatory spirit in which these goals were created. Studies of 'partnership' also often assume that establishing a 'partnership' automatically mitigates existing power inequalities. But what happens in practice? How partnerships are established and enacted will impact more or less positively on sustainable development for all. Yet, conventional partnerships research tends to elide the politics of, and operation of power in, partnerships. In the absence of such research, we are left with an inadequate analysis that creates the conditions for ill-informed policy decisions and the perpetuation of extant power hierarchies. This Panel welcomes abstracts that address theoretical, methodological and/or substantive aspects of the genesis, development, structure and role of partnerships with reference to one or more SDGs, focusing on the relationship between partnerships and power. Papers could consider, for example, the power resources that different partners bring to a partnership (material or ideational); or the power relations within partnerships; or the ways in which partnerships might seek to insulate themselves from power asymmetries in their context. Papers should examine the implications of these power asymmetries to the functioning of the partnership and/or the external impact of the partnership.