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Date: 5.5.2021
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ECOSOC Partnership Forum 2021: Partnership Approaches in the Context of COVID-19

Partnerships as “Game Changer”

Multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) were highlighted as a key tool for sustainable development at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Partnership Forum 2021. 

“Partnerships as Game Changer for a Sustainable Recovery from COVID-19” was the theme of the ECOSOC Partnership Forum, which was held as a virtual event on May 3. Topics of discussion included the success factors of MSPs, the role of the private sector, and the promotion of digital technologies and innovative solutions for partnerships. Munir Akram, President of ECOSOC, said the number of MSPs has increased against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. According to Akram, MSPs play a key role in addressing the pandemic in a sustainable manner and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Several participants emphasised the role of the private sector within partnerships to accelerate access to new technologies and overcome digital inequality. Many speakers underlined the need to promote a network for inclusive multilateralism guided by flexibility, equity and transparency. It also became clear that a common database of partnerships is needed to jointly manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and build resilience.

The Partnership Forum was complemented by a side event on “Stakeholder engagement and partnerships during and beyond COVID-19”. The event focused on two studies on the role of MSPs and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on stakeholder engagement.

Based on a survey by UN DESA, the report The impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on stakeholder engagement for the SDGs shows that the transition to greater use of virtual partnership formats in the wake of COVID-19 has both positive and negative impacts. On the one hand, digitalisation facilitates the exchange of information, on the other hand, it limits the participation of marginalised groups and requires capacity building and innovative solutions for meaningful engagement. The study Partnerships in response to COVID-19: Building back better together also highlights the crucial role of digital technologies and innovative solutions for MSPs and the need to formalise partnerships.

The side event highlighted shared values and vision, existing networks, trust between partners, equitable and transparent decision-making and governance structures, as well as open communication as key success factors for MSPs. In the context of COVID-19, partnerships were particularly characterised by urgency and the need for rapid action.

You will soon find a detailed summary of the Partnership Forum here.