Over the last two decades, hundreds of partnerships have been formed around the world. Some lasted only a short time, while others have been in operation for a long time. Some focus on narrow local goals, while others strive to coordinate broad policy areas in large regions with millions of people living and working. There are partnerships primarily aimed at business circles, as well as those focusing on labor market or social issues. “Bottom up” can be seen as a key principle here, but it is important to remember that many partnerships have been formed as part of a central government strategy to support program delivery at the local level. Many studies have been conducted on the subject, demonstrating that a partnership is a valuable tool or “organizational” model for overcoming policy and governance framework weaknesses. Partnerships, however, face several challenges: they are difficult to establish and maintain, they require political will and resources, and results are unlikely to occur overnight.
- Why partnerships today?
We are living in complex societies where the policy frameworks in place often seem to be fall short of providing satisfying solutions to a growing number of problems. But this does not necessarily mean that the frameworks as such are to be changed, as a) existing frameworks are a result of historic development and reflect a balance of different interest groups within the society; they are therefore not easy to alter, and b) it is hard to predict whether changing a policy framework will lead to a higher level of satisfaction. So naturally there is some resistance to large scale reforms. But while we may have to live with given policy settings, partnerships can be a great help in improving their performance: area-based partnerships provide a mechanism for local organisations, in particular, to work together and adapt their policies to better reflect the needs of people and the economy at the local level. Partnerships are thus a key instrument of local governance and it contribute efficiently and specifically as following:
- Improved effectiveness: When an organization, agency, or non-profit attempts to protect a watershed or reduce polluting emissions, it must overcome numerous psychological and physical barriers. Outsiders, for example, cannot compel private landowners to alter their practices in order to improve wildlife habitat. If one of these parties chooses to work alone, it will almost certainly fail. While involving a wide range of organizations is time-consuming and difficult, a well-coordinated plan may be critical to achieving the stated long-term environmental goal.
- Increased efficiency: an organisation may have a variety of strategic options, each of which will produce a desired environmental goal. Faster implementation periods, lower execution costs, and lower expected resistance by affected parties are forms of efficiency that can be derived from partnerships. For example, if organisations are attempting to minimise negative impacts of mining, grazing and timber harvesting on river water quality and fish populations, a voluntary collaboration that produces enforceable agreements will be more efficient, in terms of time and money than a regulatory process or an extended period of litigation.
- Enhanced Equity: Higher levels of participation through voluntary partnerships tend to improve the equity inherent in problem solving while also improving the perception of equity. Environmental protection programs, whether intentionally or unintentionally, may allocate costs or benefits in ways that affected parties find unfair. Alternatively, regulation may not have yet addressed a situation that is clearly inequitable. Voluntary collaborations can hasten both the debate on equity issues and the implementation of good solutions.
- They fulfil their missions more effectively: Organizations in the non-profit sector frequently lack control over the resource they are attempting to safeguard. As a result, they must persuade, cajole, and coerce others – whether companies, regulators, or individuals – to do what they believe is best. Similarly, agencies tasked with protecting human health or natural resources cannot always rely on regulation to reach the parties most responsible for environmental degradation. Partnerships provide unique access to organizations over which a participant has no control.
- They gain access to a larger resource base: Most non-profits, government agencies, and corporations have had flat or declining budgets. Non-profit organizations may find themselves competing directly for limited resources with others. Working in collaboration allows each organization to gain greater access to asset bases controlled by others.
- They increase the predictability of operations and public relations: Corporations are especially concerned about the possibility of environmental issues disrupting or delaying core operations. Partnerships that aid in the avoidance of litigation and conflict improve predictability. They also provide significant public relations benefits, particularly when non-profit and community-based organizations are included.
- Strengthen implementation tools and reenergize the global partnership for sustainable development:
A revitalized and enhanced global partnership that brings together governments, civil society, the not-profit non-government agencies, the United Nations system, and other actors, mobilizing all available resources, is required to meet the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda. Meeting implementation targets, including raising necessary funds, is critical to realizing the agenda, as is completing the Addis Ababa action agenda.
Africa Community Impact Organization is seeking collaboration because stronger partnerships will contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development by mobilizing resources, sharing knowledge, promoting the creation and transfer of environmentally sound technologies, and building capacity. There is tremendous scope for making the existing financial system more sustainable by integrating the environment dimension. Growing cooperation among multilateral organizations, donors and private sector is needed to provide developing countries and beneficiaries with technologies that increase efficiency the use of natural resources, generate low waste, treat the generated pollution and mitigate climate change.
How to start a partnership with us?
Although area-based partnerships are agreements of institutions of various kinds in a local or regional setting, this is not always how they begin. There are a variety of motives for starting a partnership, and therefore also a number of different ways to start. The initial motivation can be:
- Locally driven, or bottom-up, meaning from the region itself where the need for better co-operation and co-ordination of activities is recognised;
- Policy driven, or top-down, when someone at the central level considers the partnership approach to be the right one for the solution to a certain type of problem;
- Incentive driven, in that money is offered for a certain type of activity,
In Africa Community Impact Organization, we are structural autonomous to help establish our identity and the structural is flexible in the way it helps a certain degree of autonomous notably the freedom from political influence. We importantly review the lines of communication to ensure that all partners are kept informed and involved. The organization pertinent characteristics are as follows:
- Our partnership enjoys political and social acceptance,
- We would like both of us to show determination and accept the practicalities of our political responsibilities,
- We have a strong sense of ownership,
- Agreements are based on identifiable responsibilities, joint rights and obligations, and are signed by all relevant partners,
- The partnership takes an inclusive approach (relevant actors are involved in planning and implementation),
- We are strong commitment from each of our partners, reflected in the fact that all partner’s organisations are equally present and, where possible, represented by experienced persons who have influence within their organisation,
- Responsibilities and the nature of co-operation are clarified,
- The co-ordinators of the partnership are nominated by the partners,
- Rules of conduct (e.g., good communication between actors, regular attendance of meetings, continuity of personnel, regular transfer of information among the partners) are adhered to our partners,
- Resources, knowledge, know-how and ideas are shared within the partnership,
- Equal opportunities within the partnership are secured (partnerships will not necessarily succeed if one or a small number of the partners are perceived as dominant,
- We establish adequate financial and human resources available for implementation,
- Our partnership will be able to levers funding from a range of sources,
- We have a firm foundation of good practice in financial controls, accounting procedures, human resource management,
- In our partnership resources and energy are devoted for monitoring and evaluation, on the basis of realistic but demanding performance indicators and targets which are clearly defined,
- We always welcome “learning culture” and we fostering it, (i.e., where all partners are able to learn from one another by allowing new ideas to come forward in an open exchange of experiences),
- Resources, responsibilities and tasks may differ, but the added value of the partnership to each partner is recognised in our organization.
WRITTEN BY KANYARE JOHN – ACIO