SFB 700 Governance

SFB 700/D1: Partnerships for Sustainable Development in Areas of Limited Statehood: Impact, Conditions for Success, and Meta-Governance


The project »Partnerships for Sustainable Development in Areas of Limited Statehood: Impact, Conditions for Success, and Meta-Governance« was completed in December 2017.

This project explores the conditions for the success of transnational partnerships for sustainable development in areas of limited statehood. The third funding phase will focus on analyzing the impact of these partnerships and on investigating what consequences the experiences and evaluations of the actors involved may have in terms of their meta-governance.

The results of our empirical research carried out during the first two funding periods show that many partnerships have difficulties achieving the desired output and outcomes in certain project contexts in areas of limited statehood. They have even greater difficulties with regard to impact, i.e., making a broader and long-term contribution to problem solving in those areas. Yet such impact is essential for sustainable governance beyond isolated project successes.

First, the project will investigate participant and stakeholder views on the extent to which transnational partnerships impact sustainable development governance and the conditions for a broader and long-term impact in areas of limited statehood. Second, the project will examine the resulting consequences for a next generation of partnership activities: Based on the experiences of participants and stakeholders, how will/should these governance constellations be further developed and embedded?

Empirically, we will (again) talk to a broad range of transnational partnerships’ members, staff, and stakeholders at the international and transnational level. A focal point of this part of the research will lie on the question of whether and how international or national actors, after around ten years of experience with partnerships, are attempting to build better meta-governance for these initiatives. So far, there is not much overarching governance focusing on partnerships at the UN level. In late 2015, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) launched an online platform about Partnerships for SDGs. Furthermore, the ECOSOC Partnership Forum discussed in March 2016 how transparency and accountability of partnerships with UN participation could be improved, with the active participation of the D1 project team. The new High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) plans the creation of a ‘platform for partnerships’ for the future HLPF review process. Our research aims at finding out to what extent these processes create new meta-governance for partnerships and their activities in areas of limited statehood, and whether it builds on research findings about success conditions for such partnerships.

At the national and local level, we will study the activities of three previously identified types of partnerships and their work to promote sustainable water governance in areas of limited statehood in Kenya: a service partnership working to improve access to water and sanitation facilities (Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, WSUP), a knowledge partnership working to develop and disseminate the policy concept of Integrated Water Resource Management (the Global Water Partnership, GWP), and a standard-setting partnership working in the framework of a multi-stakeholder roundtable to develop the International Water Stewardship Standard for water users (the Alliance for Water Stewardship, AWS).