Putting Partnership To Work: Strategic Alliances for Development Between Government, The Private Sector and Civil Society

Putting Partnership To Work: Strategic Alliances for Development Between Government, The Private Sector and Civil Society

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The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg clearly identified the corporate sector as one of the key actors in the delivery of national and international poverty reduction targets in developing countries. `Partnerships' between government, civil society and business were proposed as one means whereby these poverty reduction targets were to be achieved. Despite the rhetoric, there was less consideration of how such partnerships could work in practice, the outcomes that could be achieved, or the relative merits of partnerships over other, more traditional approaches to development.

This book is about partnerships between the private sector, government and civil society. Its objective is to share practical experiences in establishing and implementing such partnerships and to show how partnerships work. The focus is on the oil, gas and mining industries, as these sectors have tended to be the primary drivers of foreign investment in developing countries. These corporations increasingly operate in regions characterised by poor communities and fragile environments. The more effective use of external relationships to ensure the effective contribution of these investments to poverty reduction and local environmental management is critical, for the companies, for government, and for the poor.

Putting Partnerships to Work is based on the work of the Secretariat of the Natural Resources Cluster (NRC) of Business Partners for Development (BPD). This major research programme, which ran from 1998 to 2002, aimed to enhance the role of oil, gas and mining corporations in international development. The programme objective was to produce practical guidance, based on the experience of specific natural resource operations around the world, on how partnerships involving companies, government authorities and civil-society organisations can be an effective means of reducing investment risks and of promoting community and regional development. The programme encompassed partnerships in Colombia, Nigeria, India, Venezuela, Bolivia, Zambia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia and Tanzania. The specific projects that were implemented included not only `traditional' development projects such as the provision of water, healthcare or infrastructure but also themes as diverse as conflict prevention, regional development, micro-enterprise development and managing oil spill compensation. Based on the experience of establishing and implementing effective partnerships, the NRC identified good practice, and developed replicable guidelines, tools and training materials.

This book is not only about good practice; it presents both the positive outcomes and lessons from the programme, as well as the risks and costs, and where things went wrong. It also provides evidence not only of the viability of partnerships (i.e. that partnerships `can work') but also evidence that partnership approaches can provide substantially better outcomes for all parties than can more traditional approaches to development or corporate social responsibility. For example, a road in India was constructed at 25 percent of the cost to government; it took just 11 months for a community health centre in Venezuela to become operational and with its long-term financial future assured; and primary education enrolment rates in the vicinity of a gold mine in Tanzania have jumped from a historic level of 60 to 80 percent to almost 100 percent (as a consequence of improved infrastructure and community awareness of the importance of education).

The challenges of poverty reduction in the developing world are so great that no one sector can address them on its own. Partnerships between business, government and civil society are a means of addressing this most fundamental of truths. It is hoped that this book will provide a road map for all those working towards making the elimination of poverty a reality.