Accepted paper:

A vehicle for SDG implementation? Understanding UNDP Partnership Agreements with emerging development partners


Sebastian Haug (University of Cambridge)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on UNDP’s Partnership Agreements with emerging development partners. Based on the analysis of initiatives related to SDG 17 I ask for the extent to which these Agreements are a promising mechanism for transformative action toward the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Paper long abstract:

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has set up Partnership Agreements (PAs) with eight 'emerging partner' countries - the BRICS, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey. These PAs aim at contributing to the achievement of the MDGs and their successor framework. My paper examines the implementation of UNDP's PAs and asks for the potential of this mechanism to actually contribute to 'transformative action' towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. To start with, I briefly look at the underlying dynamics leading to these PAs. While UNDP has been trying to reshape its profile and identify additional funding sources, 'emerging partner' countries have attempted to integrate the UN's brand and networks into their development cooperation strategies. Against this backdrop, I examine how, to what extent and by whom dominance is exercised in the implementation of UNDP PAs, taking both material (funding) and ideational (framing) factors into account. The empirical analysis focuses on two initiatives that are closely related to SDG 17. First, I examine the establishment of a UNDP global policy centre, set up to promote the role of the private sector in development processes. Second, I analyse UNDP's attempts to strengthen the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation as a multi-stakeholder platform supposed to reshape the global development cooperation framework. While these two cases provide insights into quite different dimensions of UNDP-promoted partnership processes, both highlight the dominance of national governments in establishing, shaping and limiting development cooperation 'partnerships' and thus challenge the transformational potential of the PA mechanism.

panel P68
Partnerships and power in the 2030 Agenda