Reassessing Development Aid: The Future of Public-Private Partnerships
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) in development have taken center stage in recent discussions among donors. From the relaunch of the US-EU Dialogue on Development in April, to President Obama and Bono’s introduction of a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition at the G8 summit in May, the increasing focus on PPPs is changing traditional policy-making in development. In light of this new emphasis, the Young Transatlantic Network (YTN) met on Tuesday, May 29th, for a lunch discussion entitled “Reassessing Development Aid: The Future of Public-Private Partnerships”.
The lunch featured a panel of European and American speakers representing public, private, and think-tank perspectives. Sarah Gonzales, Counselor for International Development and Representative to the EU for USAID; Gráinne Crowley, Associate Director of Advocacy and CSR Europe for Eli Lilly and Company; San Bilal, Senior Executive and Head of the Economic Governance Programme at the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM); and Thais Leray, Policy Officer in the Unit for Private Sector Development, Trade and Regional Integration for DG Development and Coordination of the European Commission, made up the dynamic group of speakers. The discussion was moderated by GMF’s Jonathan White, Senior Program Officer of the Economic Policy Program.
The panellists highlighted areas in which the private sector can best contribute, such as providing job training, or applying technical experience to infrastructure projects, and areas in which the public sector can best help, such as using networks on the ground to negotiate contracts and establishing a more stable local environment. Of course these strengths are easier to discuss in theory than to apply in practice. Case study examples taken from the speakers’ experiences illustrated the considerable challenges that can accompany combining personnel, funding, strategies, and accountability. From this discussion, young professionals gained an insight into the special challenges, and the benefits that PPPs can bring to developing countries.
The event highlighted the potential of PPPs and why they have garnered so much attention lately, but also the amount of work that goes into an effective partnership, and what challenges must be overcome to ensure the long-term viability of successful public-private partnerships.