Table of Contents

Public–Private Partnerships for Sustainable Development

Public–Private Partnerships for Sustainable Development

Emergence, Influence and Legitimacy

Edited by Philipp Pattberg, Frank Biermann, Sander Chan and Ayşem Mert

The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg is remembered mainly for the promotion of a novel form of global governance: the so-called ‘partnerships for sustainable development’. This book provides a first authoritative assessment of partnerships for sustainable development, ten years after the Johannesburg Summit.

Chapter 7: Africa’s Involvement in Partnerships for Sustainable Development: Holy Grail or Business as Usual?

Daniel Compagnon

Subjects: environment, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, public policy


Daniel Compagnon Multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development were launched at the WSSD in Johannesburg in September 2002 as a new mechanism to implement the various commitments under Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals that UN member states had previously failed to fulfil. Both the UN Secretariat and the great powers were happy to deflect criticisms on their past record, and transfer their responsibilities to non-state actors, if only to avoid a complete summit failure (Andonova and Levy 2003: 21–2), while transferring to the private sector a substantial share of multilateral environmental agreements’ implementation costs (Hale and Mauzerall 2004). Safe access to water, energy supply, poverty alleviation and food security became primary targets in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. It seemed as if the Johannesburg Plan also offered a way for Southern actors to obtain what, in their view, had been denied to them at the Monterrey Summit in March 2002, when Western powers refused to increase substantially their development aid beyond a mere extension of debt reduction programmes. Consequently, the founding consensus underlying the main summit outcome, partnerships for sustainable development, is politically ambiguous and contested (see Chapter 2). Partnerships registered with the UNCSD were presented as a unique opportunity for African countries. The continent is lagging behind in terms of economic development, and Sub-Saharan Africa more specifically is the poorest region of the world with the largest share of people living on less than $1 per day. At the same time, the region is burdened with numerous...

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