To achieve Sustainable Development Goal SDG 17, which focuses on cooperation, international partnerships in SDGs will be vital. In this comment, we examine the key obstacles such as vested economic interests that will need to be overcome for the successful implementation of SDG 17.
The implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has become ever more important, as the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many existing inequalities. These growing inequalities, especially those observed between industrialised and developing countries hamper equitable sustainable development in both social and environmental terms. For this reason, it is important to recognise the importance of SDG 17—whose focus is on partnerships—as necessary in meeting the other SDGs. SDG 17 advocates for greater cooperation between public, private and third sector organisations, regardless of their origin and size, to implement sustainable development, particularly with developing countries It is of fundamental importance for the continuous development of these associations, and towards the understanding of the role that they play. The complex challenges that society faces on top of climate change, such as the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the constant and growing demands that exist, and the urgent need for equitable international partnerships. Combined with good governance, partnerships among international organisations and local and regional associations have the capacity to help to address these growing deficits. Nevertheless, there are many challenges to the successful implementation of SDG 17.
The role of international partnerships in implementing the SDGs varies according to the context, the organisations, and the specific project needs. Still, the overall goal is to create synergies among the expertise and resource bases of international organisations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), governments, and private sector institutions, in order to attain the SDGs faster, more efficiently, and more equitably than can be achieved when working in silos. Ultimately, these synergies are meant to create win–win situations in which all partners achieve both, individual and common goals. Bull and McNeill identify five major types of international partnerships: local implementation, resource mobilisation, advocacy, policy development and lobbying, and market-based operations. Beyond these major roles, international partnerships also have the potential to push the SDGs agenda forward through advancing positive rules, creating cross-sectoral connections at the policy level, shifting individual and organisational behaviour, and empowering marginalised and vulnerable people.