At the U.S. Department of State, we are always looking for ways to engage the private sector and non-governmental organizations. We believe that 1+1=3, and that by leveraging the relative strengths of each sector, we can increase our impact and achieve more together than we could alone.
That’s why my office, the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships (S/GP), worked with USAID and Concordia this spring to bring organizations all over the world together to recognize partnerships in all of their forms. Global Partnerships Week (GPW) is a week-long celebration of the role that public-private partnerships (P3s) play in addressing global challenges and promoting U.S. development and diplomacy.
GPW 2015 was held all last week, from March 9-15, 2015, and featured more than 20 events all around the world. The week kicked off with the Partnership Practitioners Forum, a full day conference at the State Department which brought together practitioners from U.S. government agencies, the private sector, NGOs, and civil society to discuss common challenges and best practices in building and maintaining practices.
Highlights of the day for participants included breakout sessions to learn from their peers on a number of “nuts and bolts” topics like communications and finding celebrity “champions,” legal issues, and measuring results. Attendees also had the opportunity to network and discuss partnership work around specific areas—where else can you get lawyers, contracting officers, corporate social responsibility executives, and program officers all talking about cross-sector collaboration?
Events throughout the week ranged from Google Hangouts and online discussions to speaking panels and multi-day trainings. In Mexico City, musician Wynton Marsalis talked partnerships and performed in a jam session with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. In Nadi, Fiji, Fish 2.0 trained Pacific seafood businesses to enter a global competition and connect investors. Our partner Concordia held a Google Hangout with the American University of Afghanistan to discuss partnerships in education in Afghanistan. The Council on Foundations convened a discussion around government-related foundations as mechanisms to facilitate partnership. And the Georgian State Minister for Diaspora Issues hosted three events in Washington, New York City, and Los Angeles to discuss creative ways to engage diaspora populations. These are just a few of the great events, workshops, seminars, and even a gala, that took place during the week.
During GPW, S/GP announced a number of exciting developments around its current partnerships, including the dates and a call for problem statements for the second annual Fishackathon from June 6-7 and the next round of applications for one year fellowships for veterans at the State Department through the Veterans Innovation Partnership. We also released the second annual State of Global Partnerships Report, which highlights 15 innovative and diverse partnerships from all around the State Department—and also serves as a handy calendar.
GPW lets us recognize the power of cross-sector collaboration, but the drumbeat should not die down when the week ends. Our office is always looking for ways to highlight the partnerships work being done around the State Department, across the U.S. government, and with private sector companies and organizations all around the world. Let us know about your partnership successes and ideas—we know that partnerships can come from anywhere.
About the author: Andrew O'Brien serves as Special Representative for Global Parnerships at the U.S. Department of State.