5 - 7 December 2006, Vienna, Austria
Throughout OECD countries, partnerships are being set up as government, business and civil society join forces to promote economic development and solve social and employment problems more effectively. Often supported (and sometimes initiated) by government, these partnerships seek to co-ordinate policies and actions, adjust national policies to local conditions, and involve representatives of all sectors in society in shaping measures and projects.
Building partnership that can genuinely feed into the policy design process, influencing the way policies and programmes are implemented in the region, is a difficult task. To build a solid strategic capacity, significant efforts must be made. Partnerships must acquire a critical mass through ensuring the commitment of the main public services and government agencies concerned; a strong participation from business; and an unchallenged representation from civil society. Public accountability and transparency must be exemplary, and performances monitored and assessed properly. Partnerships must build a strong analytical capacity and have access to critical information. Thus the capacity of partnerships to influence policy raises a number of organisational issues related to the establishment of partnerships, and their role and legitimate position in the policy development process.
Previous activities of the OECD LEED Forum on Partnerships have demonstrated the growing interest of partnerships in capacity building activities to address such issues, and in the possibility of sharing and acquiring new experiences and know-how. As a response to this demand the Forum has designed a series of capacity building activities: seminars, workshops and study visits to participating countries. These will provide participants with unique opportunities to meet with other partnership managers and OECD experts and to engage in discussions about current challenges to the contribution of partnerships to local development.
The 2.5-day capacity building seminar brought together partnership managers from Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The seminar was a unique opportunity to discuss the “Why”, “What” and “How” issues behind partnerships’ interest in influencing policy. The event highlighted current experience, recent organisational development and innovation, and brought to light good practice in how partnerships are organising themselves for gaining more influence in wider governance networks. Interactive discussions on practical aspects of applied communication strategies and accountability frameworks, networking activities, and issues around legitimacy, trust, transparency, and efficiency have contributed to the achievement of the seminar’s objective, which was to enhance the capacities and capabilities of partnerships in contributing to policy and programme design. In addition, study visits to selected Austrian Territorial Employment Pacts (TEP Lower Austria in St. Pölten and TEP Styria) offered valuable insights into the work, current challenges and recent achievements of area-based partnerships in Austria. Findings and conclusions from the capacity building seminar will be published in the forthcoming 6th Forum Newsletter (to be issued by end January 2007) and will be included in the 3rd Forum meeting (1st – 2nd March 2007 in Vienna, Austria).