Contents this month
Partnerships - the missing links in sustainable development
The end of September saw a remarkable gathering convened by the
Prince of Wales's International Business Leaders Forum, the Cambridge
Programme on Industry and the Overseas Development Institute.
Some 130 specialists in brokering and managing partnerships arrived
from all over the world to discuss the importance of partnering
to sustainable development and to sign a declaration to this effect.
They build partnerships among business, governments and non-government
organisations in contexts ranging from the Ogoni delta in Nigeria
to Aboriginal communities in Australia. You can see the final declaration
What has this got to do with Dialogue by Design and engagement
processes? Those of you who have attended one of our training events
know that we always start by explaining that 'consultation' and
'engagement' come in different forms across what we call the 'Spectrum
of Engagement'. One part of this Spectrum is devoted to 'collaboration'
such as, for example, Local Strategic Partnerships.
We emphasise collaboration and partnerships because many of the
problems we face, whether in local communities or in the wider world,
cannot be solved by any of us working alone. Conventional forms
of engagement and consultation need to be supplemented, if not replaced,
by more pro-active forms of partnership.
This is particularly true of sustainable development issues such
as waste and resource management, climate change and energy use
- issues that feature regularly as the subject of consultation processes.
There is another aspect of partnerships that we should also value.
In recent editions of this newsletter we have advocated the use
of engagement processes as a prelude to conflict resolution. Partnerships,
at their best, are a potent means of conflict prevention.
The partnering processes discussed at Cambridge last month centre
on the need to create structures and relationships resistant to
the common causes of conflict, and this was indeed the focus of
Dialogue by Design’s input at the event.
We concentrated on planning partnerships in a way that identifies
areas of possible conflict at the outset so that steps can be taken
to prevent it. We stressed three main points:
1. Partnership planning needs to identify clearly the ambitions,
priorities and benefits or potential benefits of the partnership
for each partner.
2. The planning stage also needs to address the internal divisions,
external uncertainties and differences of power and culture that
can scramble communications and inhibit the openness that effective
3. Every partnership has to balance three things: the needs of
individual partners, the needs of the partnership as a collective,
and the needs of the project whose needs the partnership is designed
to meet. Any emphasis of one of these sets of needs over another
is likely to cause problems within the partnership.
We are pleased and proud to have contributed to The Partnership
Declaration, and we share the Prince of Wales's belief that this
event is "a milestone in the worldwide movement towards sustainable
development through partnership".
Andrew Acland is an external examiner for the professional
Partnership Brokers Accreditation Scheme (PBAS) initiated by the
Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the Prince of Wales International
Business Leaders Forum (IBLF). For further information about PBAS
please go to http://www.odi.org.uk/pppg/PBAS/index.html.
For further information about partnering or preventing or resolving
conflict within partnerships, please contact [email protected].