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From market multilateralism to governance by goal setting: SDGs and the changing role of partnerships in a new global order

  • Benedicte Bull and Desmond McNeill

Abstract

Business has been involved in cooperation with multilateral organizations through public-private partnerships (PPPs) since the late 1990s. With their adoption of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), multilateral institutions increasingly consider partnerships as a means to achieve their goals given their own limited implementation capacity. However, the global economic order has changed significantly since the first expansion of PPPs, particularly due to growing participation by non-western states and companies. This article asks how this shift has changed the eagerness to form partnerships, as well as their qualitative content. It analyzes the 3964 partnerships in the SDG partnership registry, focusing on the subset of them that includes business partners. We divide these into five groups: local implementation, resource mobilization, advocacy, policy, and operational partnerships. We study PPPs involving companies from different varieties of capitalism—private, market based forms, and state-led forms of capitalism. We find that PPPs are still dominated by companies and other actors from Western countries. Moreover, business participate more in U.S.- and Canadian-led partnerships than others. We also find strong differences regarding what category of PPPs that companies from different backgrounds engage in, and discuss the linkages between varieties of capitalism and PPP participation.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Benedicte Bull, professor, Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo, PB 1116 Blindern, 0317 Oslo; Email: benedicte.bull@sum.uio.no
Desmond McNeill, professor emeritus, Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo, PB 1116 Blindern, 0317 Oslo; Email: desmond.mcneill@sum.uio.no

Footnotes

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We would like to thank Ane Håvardsholm and Oskar Bostad Randen for research assistance for this paper. The research has been funded under the initiative of the Oslo Academy of Global Governance at the University of Oslo.

Footnotes

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