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About the UNECE International PPP Centre of Excellence (ICoE)

The UNECE has been working in the area of public private partnership for over 15 years. Then and now, it is fully aware of the challenges governments face in using PPPs to modernize infrastructure and improve public services.  During this period, it organised numerous international conferences, awareness raising workshops and developed guides on best practice, including a Guide on promoting good governance in public-private partnerships which received wide recognition.

Since that time and especially in the last five years, due in part to the financial crisis, the interest in PPP has grown. In many developing countries and emerging markets, governments have made PPP a priority. The challenge however remains that, despite their desirability, PPPs are complicated to do and require a set of skills which many governments lack.

The idea to create an international Centre was first raised in February 2009 at an inter-regional meeting involving  ESCAP, UNECE and ECA to review a PPP capacity building project that they had undertaken together. These organisations recommended that an international PPP Centre of Excellence could be an interesting response to address the capacity gap within governments. After a substantive consultation with UN agencies, the multilateral development banks and other key stakeholders notably the private sector the Executive Committee of the UNECE gave its approval to the creation of the UNECE International PPP Centre of Excellence (ICoE).

For more information please download ICoE brochure.

Goals and Deliverables

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Partnerships are critical for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Centre has been established to explore the best types of international Public-Private Partnership projects and to assist countries in implementing such projects.

How do we define excellence in Public-Private Partnerships?
Excellence has become the new standard for PPP. It is no longer the case of just doing PPPs. Rather, to achieve global competitiveness, it is necessary for countries to do the very best PPPs, that is, projects that add value, meet social, economic and environmental goals, projects that are replicable, less onerous and less time consuming to deliver.

In initial work on PPP best practice in health, for example, projects were evaluated according to such criteria as equity, access, efficiency and replicability.

The Centre operates to deliver the following:

1. Identify international PPP best practice

2. Assist governments to implement best practices successfully

3.  Encourage shared learning especially between countries new to PPPs and those with mature PPP programmes

Strengths and Benefits

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The ICoE has unique strengths and assets that will help it in defining best practices, disseminating them around the world to partner governments and the private sector and in ensuring their implementation.

First and foremost it operates under the UN and thus does not promote any single country or company. Its advice and information will therefore be treated credibly and impartially.

The UNECE PPP ICoE will only be satisfied with the best. It will learn too from what has failed in PPP. It will work closely with International PPP Specialist Centres, exchanging information on best practices in different sectors.

The ICoE will be well placed to determine ‘best practices’ as it will have access to the resources, experience and skills of the countries of the G20 including those countries with mature PPP processes and PPP Units, as well as internationally recognised top level experts from both the public as well as the private sectors.

The Centre’s mission is ‘doable’ because it is the most cost effective tool in developing best practice in PPPs: no single Centre by itself can keep up to date with PPPs in every sector. It only can be done through partnerships between countries coordinated by a small, but expert coordinating hub, based in Geneva.

The private sector will be significantly involved. It is motivated to pursue global excellence in PPPs. It will participate in the Advisory Board, Editorial Board and as members of the Specialist Centres.


Overall the Centre will:
   •    Provide best practice standards, case studies of projects, that can be adapted and used by emerging and developing country PPP programmes;
   •    Accelerate the spread of projects to countries where there is need for innovation, new technologies, efficient and modern infrastructure, using climate change resistant processes and inputs;
   •    Result in costs savings and speedier delivery of infrastructure through PPP.

Governance Procedures and Practices

Good governance in the ICoE

Good governance principles are crucial in order to achieve the goals of the ICoE. The ICoE needs to be governed according to best practice. Accordingly, the Bureau of the Working Party on PPPs, which is also the Governing Body of the ICoE, has prepared a set of principles under which the Centre will operate. These are available at:

Structure and Bodies

The ICoE is operating under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and is organized as follows:

A coordinating hub based at the UNECE Secretariat at the Palais des Nations, Geneva accountable to the UNECE Working Party on PPPs, its Governing Body / Bureau and to the UNECE senior management.

Its four main components are:

Project Teams – Project teams comprising of experts will act as the main drivers for the development of PPP standards/recommendations. Therefore, they will be the engines for ICoE growth within the next few years. Currently, a number of project teams have already been established.

Specialist Centres – Specialist Centres supplement the work of the project teams in two ways. Firstly, they will aid in the preparation of best practice guides through the gathering of country-specific experiences. These best practice guides will then form the basis for project teams seeking to produce evidence-based standards. Secondly, Specialist Centres will play an integral role in the implementation of future standards.

Business Advisory Board – The Business Advisory Board was established in 2014 to assist in the development and implementation of PPP standards. Comprised of distinguished individuals from the private sector engaged in the field of PPPs, the Business Advisory Board will provide advice on best practices and standards and provide support to governments implementing PPPs through high-level consultative meetings.

UNECE Secretariat – The secretariat will play a facilitating role in the development of standards by expediting communication between the abovementioned parties and by providing technical support to end users of the knowledge platform. The secretariat is also in charge of maintaining the standards and keeping them relevant to the constantly changing PPP environment.

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