How Multistakeholder Partnerships Can Accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goals


Foreword by Andrew Steer

We live in a world ripe for transformation. In the midst of this global pandemic and the growing climate change crisis, it is imperative that we address these emergencies and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the context of longer-term systems change.

Incremental change is insufficient. Going it alone is inadequate. We need big, bold, and innovative action to tackle our greatest challenges while improving equity and social inclusion in all parts of the world. We need revolutions in green energy, food, transportation, manufacturing, and the built environment to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet.

Attaining these goals requires transformative action that fundamentally shifts global systems, and multistakeholder partnerships can help usher in this critical change. Partnerships are effective when they are clear in their ambitions, are carefully designed to ensure that each member of the partnership contributes an essential element, and when they have a clear and accountable theory of change.

At WRI, partnerships are part of our DNA. We are proud to host P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030), a platform that funds and supports innovative multistakeholder partnerships working across five SDGs in low-income countries.

This report dives deeply into how these partnerships can—and, indeed, do—make progress where less collaborative efforts might fail. A survey of 41 multistakeholder partnerships that work on the SDGs found four success factors that offer a high potential for transformation: joint agreement on vision and goals; clear articulation of what policies and relationships need to change; the ability to leverage existing power structures to advocate for change; and strong mechanisms for monitoring, evaluation, learning, and reporting.

Thank you to the members and sponsors of the P4G community, the Global Green Growth Institute, and the World Economic Forum for their contributions to this report. Thank you as well to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark for supporting this research. Our hope is that by reading this report, partnership practitioners from all sectors will be more equipped to achieve transformative change and contribute to a more just and sustainable world.


Andrew Steer

President and CEO

World Resources Institute

Start reading