Global Partnerships Week: An Endeavor in Sustainability

Posted on Posted in by Eliza Sheff

Last week, March 6-12, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted the annual Global Partnerships Week (GPW) at the United States Institute of Peace.

The Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships within the State Department partnered with the U.S. Global Development Lab of USAID, Concordia, and PeaceTech Lab to celebrate the collaboration between public and private institutions all over the world in an effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Partnerships forged among civil society, governments, multi-lateral organizations, individuals, and corporations are imperative in achieving any of these goals; Global Partnerships Week in appropriately emphasizes Goal 17, Partnerships for the Goals.

Here at Give Me 5!, we recognize the extreme importance of partnerships when it comes to achieving the SDGs (see our list of partners here and check out the amazing work they are doing!). Sustainable development in and of itself is interdisciplinary, and the various facets of sustainable development are not mutually exclusive. It follows that within the realm of sustainable development, something like reducing waste would be beneficial to individuals, corporations, and governments alike. One demographic does not need to suffer in order for another to flourish; partnerships can further encourage collaboration across groups and make yet more progress than these groups can achieve individually. GPW 2017 particularly focused on P3s, or public-private partnerships, and encouraged them “to engage in discussion on common challenges and best practices, identify new partnership opportunities, and coordinate on collaborative solutions.”

The week kicked off with the Global Partnerships Practitioners Forum on Monday, March 6, a day-long conference with leaders, speakers, and workshops from different organizations ranging from the U.S. State Department, UNESCO, World Wildlife Fund, World Bank, NASA, and many others. The forum included formal partnership building workshops focusing on governance, practical management, entrepreneurship, negotiation, etc. as well as breakout sessions that focused on the overarching theme of the SDGs: human rights (SDGs 4, 5, 6, 10, 16), economic opportunity and employment (SDGs 1, 4, 7, 8, 9), human and natural environment (SDGs 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15), health (SDGs 2, 3, 6, 11) and infrastructure (SDGs 6, 7, 8, 9, 11).

Organizations were allowed to host their own events at different locations in Washington, D.C. in connection with GPW. You can see the full list all of the events that took place here. For many organizations involved, participation was standard, such as events hosted by Concordia, Hudson Institute, and Alliance for Peacebuilding. However, the full range of participants was varied. The MasterCard Foundation hosted an event to discuss 10-year strategy; Coca-Cola Brazil, US Embassy Brazil, and Motorola Solutions Brazil all co-hosted an event together; the Global CEO Alliance hosted an event with the George Washington University School of Business. Seeing governments, corporations, and non-profit organizations collaborate to create a multi-level platform to foster yet more collaboration while working towards achieving the SDGs is nothing short of inspiring. 

In the current political climate, it’s not hard to become complacent and reticent when it comes to sustainable development. GPW 2017 demonstrates that there are individuals, corporations, and governmental bodies that are partnering up to make sure that the 2030 Agenda is not only plausible, but likely to be achieved if we put aside our differences and focus on what is the most beneficial for everyone. Sustainable development is the destination; global partnerships are the vehicles to take us there.