In recognition of the limitations of traditional inter-governmental mechanisms (the so-called Type I mechanisms) in achieving sustainable development goals, the 2002 WSSD in Johannesburg proposed the development of Type II Partnerships "characterized by collaborations between national or sub-national governments, private sector and civil society actors, to form voluntary transnational agreements in order to meet specific sustainable development goals." Type II Partnerships had to meet seven key criteria: i) they should be voluntary and based on shared responsibility, ii) they must complement, rather than substitute, intergovernmental sustainable development strategies, iii) they must consist of a range of multi-level stakeholders, preferably within a given area of work and have clear objectives, iv) they must ensure transparency and accountability, v) they must have clear targets and produce tangible results, vi) the partnership must be new, and adequate funding must be available, and vii) a follow-up process must be developed. At the time, Type II Partnerships were seen as an innovative shift in environmental governance from traditional top-down mechanisms to more collaborative, multi-stakeholder and decentralized approaches that could be more participatory, flexible and responsive. Today, such partnerships, even if not formal Type II Partnerships are widespread and commonly accepted ways of operating.
Personally, I feel that setting up EAAFP as a Type II Partnership was quite prescient. It clearly meets the criteria. Having a clear, well defined and easily understood objective is critical. Conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats in the flyway is something people can easily understand and relate to. Furthermore, it clearly requires collaborative actions across national boundaries and among a very diverse set of stakeholders, from national governments to site managers and local communities. The clear objective also helps funders and supporters to see and understand what they contribute resources to.
As we look at our Partnership, it has a good balance: 17 of the 22 Flyway countries are represented and 11 diverse, international NGOs complement the government agencies. Inclusion of the global and regional inter-governmental organizations within the Partnership takes criterion ii) to a deeper level, and while there is currently only one private sector entity, this represents an opportunity for expansion in the future. What is important is that different Partners have different strengths and can "bring different things to the table."
EAAFP is still a relatively young organization, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016. Some issues remain. For example the recent Independent Review of EAAFP noted that for some governments, the lacking of binding obligations can pose problems to agencies used to dealing with traditional multilateral conventions. Assessing effectiveness (many migratory waterbirds are still declining and their habitats shrinking) and assuring future financial sustainability are significant challenges. Yet, as participants register for MOP9 next month, in greater numbers than ever, I feel that EAAFP is healthy and robust, and especially that levels of commitment and enthusiasm among participants are stronger than ever.
Spike Millington, Chief Executive
Pre-MOP9 meetings of EAAFP Working Groups and Task Forces (10 January 2017)