The COVID-19 pandemic crisis will cost governments trillions of dollars, creating substantial burdens on taxpayers, together with huge macroeconomic imbalances and risks. This situation is likely to significantly constrain the investment in public infrastructure and services needed for the Sustainable Development Goals.
How can Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), putting people first, help governments respond to these challenges, and build the resilience needed to cope with future crises? This was the question that experts from UNECE’s network of eight International PPP Specialist Centres of Excellence sought to answer in their recent virtual meeting.
Partnerships with the private sector play a critical role in supporting governments’ efforts for prevention, preparedness and response to crises like the current pandemic – by harnessing companies’ skills, management capability and technology, such as in telecommunications, healthcare and innovation (vaccines and treatments), hygiene and water management.
The experts decided to seize this potential by stepping up their collaboration through UNECE’s “People-first” PPPs programme. Together, they will develop guidance to help governments deliver projects that: put people first by engaging directly with communities, helping them to build their resilience; accelerate the shift to carbon neutrality and renewables; and deliver high-value jobs, supporting labour markets’ recovery from the crisis.
A three-point plan to Build Back Stronger
The Centres agreed to deliver on a three-point plan to support these objectives:
- First, collect information on projects to help strengthen resilience in the post-pandemic recovery (see examples here) and the necessary guidelines.
- Secondly, support governments’ project development, in consultation with communities.
- Thirdly, offer expertise – along with the UNECE Business Advisory Board – to help governments present projects to Multilateral Development Banks and other investors.
The International PPP Specialist Centres of Excellence affiliated to UNECE focus on critical sustainable development vectors and public goods sectors such as Smart Cities; Policies, Laws and Institutions; Local government; Ports; Public Transport Logistics; Recovery and Resilience; and Water and Sanitation.
Mr. David Dodd, CEO of the International Specialist Centre on PPPs in Sustainable Resilience based in New Orleans, United States, and current chair of the Centres, stressed that “cooperation among countries is the best way to tackle the pandemic and to build back stronger. All the Centres in China, France, Japan, Lebanon, Portugal, Spain and the U.S., agreed to pool resources to help UN Member States, especially in the UNECE region, to get out of the pandemic and its social-economic impacts through supportive People-first PPPs.”
More information on the Centres is available at http://www.unece.org/ppp/centres.html