Effective partnering requires a commitment to a learning attitude or mind-set. The goal of learning in this context is to change and improve working practices.

Learning can occur at two levels: partnering process and partnering activity outcomes. Within the partnering process, participants should reflect on the process of collaborating itself, including the impact on the individuals and organisations involved. With regard to outcomes, participants should observe at the extent to which the activity is delivering results. To be able to learn, participants need to monitor and evaluate their work, which in turn requires having the ability to receive and process feedback on actions, how they are carried out, and their effect.

Beyond their contribution in terms of accountability to partners, donors, and stakeholders, monitoring and evaluation are key enablers for learning in order to maximise efficiency and effectiveness.

Learning can only happen in a safe environment that enables frank and open discussion of what has and hasn’t worked. This means that partners acknowledge their different styles of learning and their assumptions and preconceptions about each other and the context in which they are operating.

One outcome of the learning process can be that the partnering endeavour is no longer needed. If this is the case, a moving-on strategy needs be developed to ensure that partners can leave without imperilling the long-term viability of the endeavour.


For effective learning we recommend:

  • Monitoring the partnering activity’s effectiveness, efficiency , and value to the partners and wider stakeholders and society
  • Evaluation of the partnering endeavour’s outcomes, outputs, and potential impacts to assess the endeavour and to formulate a future strategy
  • Co-developing a moving-on strategy (including the exit and entries of partners)


  • Blog: For more on different learning styles, read about Kolb’s typology
  • Database: The United Nations organises efforts and activities to accumulate relevant data around the SDGs; this data collection framework is developed by UN-DESA and the UN Global Compact, with support from the UN Office for Partnerships.