The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 specific goals, and 169 associated targets that set out quantitative objectives across the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, all to be achieved by 2030 (United Nations, 2015). Health has been recognized as crucial for sustainable human development (Alleyne et al., 2013) and an essential contributor to the economic growth of society (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2016); and the SDGs agenda offers an opportunity to acknowledge health as pivotal to economic growth and sustainable development (Buse and Hawkes, 2015). The SDGs explicitly recognize the centrality of health to development in Goal 3, which is devoted to “ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages”, and includes 9 targets (excluding those on means of implementation).
Goal 17 of the SDGs—“Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development” is acknowledged to be a crucial mechanism for achieving the goals (Zapatrina, 2016). Public-private partnerships are currently used in different sectors with evidence indicating that they are most widely established in healthcare, infrastructure, water supply and agriculture (Tang et al., 2010). PPPs can combine the strengths of private actors, such as innovation, technical knowledge and skills, managerial efficiency and entrepreneurial spirit, and the role of public actors, including social responsibility, social justice, public accountability and local knowledge, to create an enabling environment for delivering high quality health infrastructure and services (Roehrich et al., 2014). Despite the increased popularity of PPPs in developed and developing countries (Roehrich et al., 2014, Bouman et al., 2013) and the increased attention of PPPs in the SDGs (United Nations, 2015), there still exists skepticism around notions of partnerships and its forms (Hodge and Greve, 2007). Questions as to their actual effectiveness, efficiency and convenience, still remain (Torchia et. al., 2015).
However, it is documented that the private sector has been tapped to act as a major driver for success in pushing forward the SDGs, with the UN secretary general making a compelling call for “responsible companies to deliver solutions” (UN News Centre, 2015). There is growing recognition that the private sector is seen not only as a source of financing in this process but also as a partner in national development and development planning (UNIDO & UNGC, 2014). The case has been made that every company, large and small, has the potential to make a very significant contribution towards shared economic, social and environmental progress whether through core business operations and value chains, social investments, philanthropic contributions, and advocacy efforts (SDG Fund et al., 2015). Investing in health can contribute to national development through increased productivity, improved employee health and wellbeing, and improved population health (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016).
Since the announcement of the Sustainable Development Goals, countries have been mapping out their national action plans, updating health and development information, reviewing national priorities, assessing the focus of current international development assistance and determining which policies, laws, and strategies are already aligned with SDG targets and changes that are needed. In this process, many are identifying opportunities for greater alignment and effectiveness in reaching their goals through partnerships.
Recognizing this context the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Forum on Public-Private Partnerships for Global Health and Safety (PPP Forum) is convening a workshop series to examine opportunities for the private sector to engage in partnerships to advance health and the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in LMICs. Part I of the series (held in June 2016 in New York) explored the global context for the SDGs, especially regarding expectations of/opportunities for the business community and how individual companies are approaching this challenge in their business plans and social investments. Part II workshop of the series is being held on October 27-28, 2016, in London (The Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road) with the objectives to better understand perspectives on PPPs from stakeholders in countries across all income levels that are critical to planning for and implementing the SDGs.
Pedro Conceição of the United Nations Development Programme will open the meeting, presenting on issues of health, economic development, and human development within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. Sessions will explore how PPPs can advance the social, environmental, and economic development agenda of countries and facilitate multisectoral dialogue on what is and is not working to make progress. Stakeholders from Uganda will discuss their experience in country with multisectoral coordination to support the SDGs. Then looking at private sector engagement Lord Mark Malloch-Brown of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission will explore how different business sectors can communicate and collaborate with each other and with governments to facilitate more effective coordinated action as companies define and implement their own sustainable business models in support of the SDGs.
Finally, participants will seek to identify elements critical to the creation of an effective enabling environment and the mutual trust needed for effective PPPs. Roger Magnusson of the University of Sydney will discuss opportunities for law, governance, and regulatory design in improving accountability of PPPs. The meeting will also include examples of partnerships that are utilizing the core competencies of companies to provide technical assistance and build capacity. Panelists, including BD, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the CDC, and UPS, among others, will discuss how lessons learned from these partnerships can be applied more broadly.
The PPP Forum seeks to foster a collaborative community of multisectoral health and safety leaders from multinational companies, governments, foundations, humanitarian and professional organizations, academia, and civil society to leverage the strengths of varying sectors and multiple disciplines to yield benefits for global health and safety. The intended audience is stakeholders from public and private entities that have participated in or are considering collaboration across sectors to further global health and safety, and academics and researchers across disciplines who are focused on understanding the value proposition and impact of various models of public-private partnerships to advance health and the SDGs. The Forum’s workshop will include presentations and moderated discussions. Attendance is free and open to the public, but space is limited.