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UNECE tools for Innovation and Public-Private Partnerships will be key elements in achieving the SDGs

The UNECE’s international standards and recommendations in the areas of innovation and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) will make a strong contribution to the immense task of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was the consensus of participants in the tenth session of the Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and Public-Private Partnerships, held from 23 to 25 May 2016 in Geneva. At the same time - it will not be easy. Integrating innovation and PPPs into national development strategies will require legislative reforms, capacity building and the mobilization of many partners, from civil society as well as from the private and public sectors.

Speaking on the growing contribution of the UNECE in the field of innovation, Virginia Cram-Martos, Director of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Division of the UNECE said: ‘While innovation is key for sustainable development, it requires the alignment of national innovation policies with sustainable development objectives and that is why a stronger focus on innovation is needed’. To support this approach, UNECE will conduct Innovation for Sustainable Development Reviews in the coming years in Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Representatives from these and other countries voiced their strong interest in this connection between innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals. Such a review is already underway in Belarus.

Public-Private Partnerships, along with other forms of partnerships which may include civil society or academia, are also critical mechanisms for achieving the ambitious goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To address these goals, UNECE is developing PPP standards, recommendations and best practice models in sectors such as water and sanitation, health, renewable energy and transport – work that is attracting global attention. Acknowledging UNECE’s leadership role in PPPs within the United Nations system, Ziad Hayek, from the Higher Council for Privatization of Lebanon,  announced  his organisation’s intention to host, in Beirut, the international specialist centre on PPPs in ports, affiliated to the UNECE International PPP Centre of Excellence and, along the same lines, the representative of Portugal, announced that their country would be opening an International Centre of Excellence on PPPs for water and sanitation.

A number of countries, including Bangladesh, France and Russian Federation, presented how PPP projects are changing people’s lives. Lessons have shown that good governance and a ‘people-first’ approach are of paramount importance for success in PPP projects and the UNECE PPP standards that are currently under development will be crucial to increasing the number of ‘people-first’ PPP projects.