Partnering is a genuine and inclusive collaboration activity with a high level of ownership.

Effective partnering takes into account all stakeholders that either impact on, or are impacted by, the focus issue. This is either because they have a mandate, an interest, or a willingness to take responsibility for the issue. In every case, it is important to have balanced representation of a range of interests.

Ownership is hard to build when there is a feeling that the partnering activity or approach has been imposed by international agencies. International agencies have a vital responsibility to engage people who are directly involved in or affected by the decision-making and implementation process, as well as their organisations or their government bodies . This capacity is mostly lacking and is evident by the many partnering approaches that are often resisted at a local level.

International agencies can also ‘crowd out’ local stakeholders – making the ‘partnership’ just another form of external interference in local affairs. Therefore, it is crucial to define the issue with all relevant parties.

How does an initiating organisation find the relevant stakeholders and understand the context well enough to make suitable choices? Undertaking a stakeholder analysis or mapping helps to systematically identify which parties are relevant, and their interests, positions, and mandates. Understanding the changing nature of the power dynamics between partners is a crucial aspect of the analysis, as well as the legal and organisational frameworks in which the interventions are to take place. Also, the underlying assumptions of those undertaking the analysis should be clearly understood.


  • What are the characteristics of the individuals and the context in which the partners are working?
  • How do the partners ensure that essential stakeholders are at the table?



  • Stakeholder and geographical analysis available and revisited over time
  • Local impact is clearly identified and understood
  • Relevant actors are genuinely engaged in decision-making and implementation
  • Alignment between the scope of the partnering project and the national SDG agenda
  • Unintended consequences are assessed and mitigated