Public-Private Partnerships For Sustainable Development


The current global landscape is beset with challenges that transcend national boundaries. The future of international collaboration will require stakeholders, both state and non-state, to build new synergies, transfer established capabilities, and create new cross-cutting capacities. This future will particularly require the international community to recognise businesses and the private sector not as a part of the problem, but as a part of the solution. The proliferation of technology, the effects of pandemic, globalisation, and the fourth industrial revolution, make this a near future.

The new operating landscape created by the forces mentioned above presents both an opportunity and a challenge. Partnerships will have a key role to play in fostering these innovative synergies. In fact, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for a quintuple bottom line, vis-à-vis, people, profits, planet, peace, and partnerships. Albeit, public-private partnerships have acquired greater visibility in recent years, there remains systemic challenges in developing effective cross-sectoral partnerships due to misaligned incentives; lack of collaborations; public perception; accountability, and the lack of trust.

Knowledge Clusters

  • Sustainability
  • Corporate and Business Ethics
  • Global Public Policy
  • Business and Innovation
  • Development
  • Multilateralism


Fostering effective public-private partnerships lies at the heart of unlocking social and economic value. This Research Lab investigates cross-functional and interdisciplinary themes through these four clusters.


Although Goal 17 of the SDGs lays emphasis on global partnerships, only two (17:16 & 17:17) out of the 19 targets are relevant to building and strengthening multi-sectoral partnerships. Furthermore, effective methodological frameworks are absent in both measuring and sustaining partnerships. This research cluster aims at highlighting and developing key methodological frameworks to understand the challenges of public-private partnerships.


International institutions play a crucial role in facilitating multilateral relationships and initiatives. However, the current global order is being moulded in an environment of extreme global interconnectivity and vulnerability, whereby the existence of the current multilateral framework is being challenged. There are several key learnings to take out from the many global disruptions that can help bolster multilateralism to play this role even better, in the decade of action. 


The Sustainable Development Goals call for universality of action that requires the engagement of every sector. This is an opportune moment to shift public perception from businesses as a problem to businesses as a solution. Creating the right framework and incentives that allow businesses to engage their competitive advantage, vis-à-vis, the allocation of capital and fostering innovations, can harness their true entrepreneurial potential while balancing the interests of society. This requires revisiting of corporate and business ethics, rethinking our economic ideologies and models, and understanding the role of business in society.


Technology is a tool that humanity is placing at the heart of international development efforts. In this area, we explore a technology intervention in developmental challenges to highlight the importance of enabling ecosystems. Greater access and the reduction in price of technology is allowing those in low income countries to leap-frog various stages of development – from cloud-based technologies, crowd-financing, e-governance, and fintech.