Perceptions of Multi-stakeholder Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals: A Case Study of Irish Non-State Actors

Partnerships for Sustainable Development

by Aparajita Banerjee, Enda Murphy, and Patrick Paul Walsh, University College Dublin.

Sustainability 202012 (21), 872; .

This article belongs to the Special Issue Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals


The United Nations 2030 Agenda emphasizes the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships for achieving the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indeed, Goal 17 includes a target for national governments to promote multi-stakeholder partnerships between state and non-state actors. In this paper, we explore how members of civil society organizations and the private sector perceive both the possibilities and challenges of multi-stakeholder partnerships evolving in Ireland for achieving the SDGs. The research uses data gathered during 2018 and includes documentary research, participant observations of stakeholder forums in Ireland and the United Nations, and semi-structured interviews to address related questions. The results demonstrate that numerous challenges exist for forming multi-stakeholder partnerships for the SDGs, including a fragmented understanding of the Goals. They also note previous examples of successful multi-stakeholder partnership models, the need for more leadership from government, and an overly goal-based focus on SDG implementation by organizations as major impediments to following a multi-stakeholder partnership approach in the country. These findings suggest that although Goal 17 identifies multi-stakeholder partnerships as essential for the SDGs, they are challenging to form and require concerted actions from all state and non-state actors for SDG implementation.

Keywords: Sustainable Development Goals; Goal 17; multi-stakeholder partnerships; challenges of multi-stakeholder partnerships; stakeholders’ perceptions