Transformative partnerships 2030

As part of the 2030 Agenda, all UN member states agreed that sustainable development should be achieved through multi-stakeholder partnerships. But do they?

The role of multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) in global governance has gained increasing attention among the international community. As part of the 2030 Agenda, all UN member states agreed that sustainable development should be achieved through MSPs (SDG 17). But do MSPs under the 2030 Agenda contribute to sustainable development? Or do they merely reflect a rhetorical commitment of the international community?

The overarching aim of this project is to examine if, how and when MSPs can contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and act as a vehicle to accelerate transformative shifts toward sustainability. The project advances empirical and theoretical research in social science by arguing that MSPs need to be synergistic, effective and legitimate to achieve the 2030 Agenda. By creating synergies between SDGs, utilizing effective strategies to address challenges and prescribing themselves to practices that generate legitimacy, MSPs can enhance implementation and accelerate societal transformation.

To assess these propositions, the project employs a mixed method design by combining statistical analysis, interviews, expert surveys and participatory observation. From a novel data-set of MSPs cutting across social, environmental and economic goals, we will study 30 different MSPs and 60 specific projects. The findings of this project will have substantive implications for how MSPs should be designed, governed, and integrated across SDGs to achieve the 2030 Agenda.


Magdalena Bexell, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Lund University 
Kristina Jönsson, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Lund University
Philipp Pattberg, Professor, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 
Oscar Widerberg, Assistant ProfessorInstitute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Karin Bäckstrand, Professor, Department of Political Science, Stockholm University



Principal Investigator

Karin Bäckstrand Professor, Environmental Social Science

Project members

Ian Higham PhD, Political Science
Faradj Koliev PhD, Political Science
Maximilian Wanner PhD, Political Science

Other project members