Look who's talking about PPPs

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ImageLong-term infrastructure planning. Service delivery even beyond the “end of the line.” E-government outreach that includes everyone. As these and other benefits of public-private partnerships (PPPs) reach more people, a deeper understanding of PPP strategies is entering the mainstream. 

Examples of this organic knowledge-sharing, born of individuals’ first-hand positive experiences with PPPs, can be found among thought leaders across a range of fields. Editors of Handshake, the World Bank Group’s PPP journal, have interviewed many of these experts about their experience with PPPs and have compiled some of their perspectives here.
Edward Glaeser, urban economist and Professor of Economics, Harvard University ( Cities issue, p. 30, “Triumph of the PPP”), on the need for oversight of PPPs: “There is a lot to be gained in the marriage of public and private, but there are also enormous risks. There are cases where either the government has mistreated the private partner, or companies have figured out a way to mistreat the government. PPPs always require firm oversight. They are enormously valuable as a way to solve a financing problem, and the people who are fighting to solve this problem are doing one of the most important jobs in the world.”

Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture ( Tourism issue, p. 26), on PPPs as a solution for World Heritage Sites: “Over the past 10 years we’ve had an increased level of attention to World Heritage Sites, and there’s been a subsequent expansion in the number of sites as a result. When you have an expansion of your core business the first question you ask yourself is 'How do I keep delivering the same quality of services?' For us, this includes monitoring services, support to member states, tracking and responding to trends, and trying to use tourism as a resources instead of just a force of destruction. We want to deal with tourism in a way that’s constructive. PPPs can help us do that.”

M. Sanjayan, Executive Vice President of Conservation International and television host ( Natural Resources issue, p. 44, “Beyond the ‘Just So’ Story”), on how PPPs have changed ideas about conservation: “It’s almost impossible to do conservation the old way, like what Roosevelt pulled off, which is essentially declaring a place off limits. You just can’t do that anymore. Virtually everything I’ve ever been able to do in the field of conservation over the last decade has had a very big element of public-private partnerships, and all the big nonprofits understand this right now.”

Clare Short, former U.K. Secretary of State for International Development ( Cities issue, p. 12, “Managing Urbanization”), on PPPs’ role in rapid urbanization: “You cannot create the cities of the future without people saving and borrowing, and the private sector wants to be there and needs to be there. That’s the opportunity. Because you can’t get the resources that cities need without it. Public-private partnerships are very much part of the equation. But the development model also has to change.”

Melanne Verveer, director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace, and Security ( Reconstruction issue, p. 82, “Ambassador of Opportunity”), on how PPPs can play into the economic progress of a post-conflict nation: “The private sector is about profitability, and the companies involved can also be extraordinary partners in terms of the social value….at the U.S. State Department, Secretary Clinton was a huge champion of public-private partnerships. Because as she said, no one of us has all of the competencies required: we each have different competencies. No one of us has all the resources, but we can tap resources, leverage skills, and work together.”

Kandeh Yumkella, UN Sustainable Energy for All Special Representative ( Power issue, p. 6, “Humanizing Energy”), on how PPPs can increase access to energy: “Public-private partnerships will be the key to sustainable energy for all….To achieve universal access to energy by 2030, we need about a $50 billion investment per year. The total official development assistance is $9 billion. To reach $50 billion, you need private money, not given as aid but as investments blended with public finance…The big question is how you create this and get the companies to be excited to make money and change the world. That’s our challenge.”

Nina Planck, founder of the modern farmers’ market movement ( Food issue, p. 84, “Marketing Farmers”), on creating a successful relationship between public and private players: “The appropriate public contribution for farmers’ markets is space, because farmers’ markets don’t have the money to compete with real commercial applications like parking lots. Then public entities should seek a professional management team for the market and provide appropriate signage and publicity, as well as set standards so that they know they will be getting a high-quality market. I believe the management should be private, whether or not the market is for-profit, as mine are. Then government officials need to step back and let managers do their thing.”

Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia ( Tourism issue, p. 16, “Tourism and Democracy), on PPPs’ role in the interplay between tourism and democracy: “Building better pedestrian spaces constructs and benefits democratic ideals, as it shows respect for and protects the most vulnerable local citizens: children, the elderly, the handicapped, and the poor. Particularly in developing countries, where most homes do not have cars, quality pedestrian spaces show respect for the carless majority, literally placing everyone on the same level. Quality pedestrian spaces are spaces for democracy. No revolution has started in a shopping mall. Tourism requires quality sidewalks and plazas: so does political activism.”

Jean-Michel Cousteau, founder, Ocean Futures Society ( Natural Resources issue, p. 38, “Ambassador of the Sea”), on how activists should approach government officials to promote PPPs and other policies for sustainable fisheries: “People in government are there for a very short period of time. Their obsession is to do something while they are in power. Our job, looking at the long term, is to sit down with them, never point a finger, and reach their heart. These people have families, they have children, they want to make a difference. We can help them use their experience in government to continue doing what they should be doing, much better than they have, and make sure the next generation will benefit from that.” 

Susan Crawford, Visiting Professor at the Harvard Law School and a co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University ( Connectivity issue, p. 44, “Know What You Know”), on how local governments can engage communities through technology: “Another important PPP may involve fiber infrastructure. A city or local government may not be the best actor to itself manage a dark fiber installation. While retaining ownership and control, and while requiring openness to retail-level services, the city can call for fiber to be built and assist the private entrant by providing loan guarantees, access to city poles and rights-of-way, and other assistance.”

Handshake’s next issue, focused on innovation in PPPs, will be published online and in print on June 16. 


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