SEATTLE — The importance of teamwork cannot be overstated with regards to the development world; particularly, the importance of international partnerships between organizations is a critical tool for the success of global development initiatives. While making partnerships between organizations requires significant time, effort and maintenance, the benefits of such connections are significant.
International partnerships can be created between organizations of the same level, such as NGOs, national bodies, corporations, philanthropic foundations and local and national civil society organizations. These lateral partnerships can benefit organizations working towards a similar or shared goal. In turn, organizations benefit from an increased fundraising base, more networking opportunities and greater awareness of the cause and organization.
Bilateral partnerships occur across levels, such as between an NGO and a think tank or a corporation and a philanthropic foundation. An agreement between a donor state and a beneficiary is also considered a bilateral partnership, as are agreements of trade. These partnerships occur directly between the partner organizations, and partners work towards a common goal.
Depending on the type of bilateral partnership, partners receive different benefits. Partnerships between various NGOs and USAID, for example, ensures that international NGOs receive essential program funding, while USAID is able to facilitate the United States’ involvement in international development initiatives.
Bilateral partnerships between NGOs in developing nations and local businesses raise awareness of issues and promote positive community development. For example, an NGO with a job skills training program can make a partnership with a business who agrees to hire individuals trained by the NGO. Consequently, these individuals are guaranteed employment, the business receives skilled workers and the NGO can ensure worker welfare.
Multilateral partnerships are similar to bilateral partnerships, in which partnerships occur across levels, but multilateral partnerships are handled by an international body, such as the U.N. or World Bank. These partnerships are most top-down in style, as they are facilitated by an international entity. However, these partnerships arguably allow for a greater potential impact, as the potential for resources and funds has been pooled together by several different countries.
Each type of international partnership has its pros and cons. More program funding, tools and innovation are found in bilateral and multilateral partnerships, but grassroots involvement with lateral partnerships is arguably most visible and approachable for those in communities in need. Ideally, a network incorporating all kinds of partnerships can be utilized for an organization.
As movement to accomplish the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals goes underway, it is important to remember that policy is actualized by those working on the ground. Partnerships of all kinds boost the likelihood that development initiatives will succeed.