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LIDC & The Guardian Development Debates: How Effective are Public Private Partnerships?

Monday, February 27, 2017 - 18:30 to 20:45
SOAS Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

On Monday 27th February the third debate of the LIDC & The Guardian Development Debate Series took place.

The theme of the third debate was public private partnerships in international development and asked 'How Effective are Public Private Partnerships?'

LIDC has teamed up with The Guardian Development Network to host a series of panel debates on current key issues in international development. Four speakers, comprised of academics from the Bloomsbury Colleges, development practitioners and policy-makers, take questions from the audience and discussions are guided by a moderator.


In recent years there has been a rise in the number of partnerships between the public and private sector (PPPs) in international development, however, discussions around the efficacy of PPPs has become highly polarized.

On one side PPPs have the potential to achieve greater impact in development outcomes by harnessing the skills, experience and knowledge from both the government and the non-state actors. They also provide developing countries with a means of accessing additional financial resources to deliver on projects and programmes.

On the other hand, DFID has recently faced criticism for its plans to increase UK Aid funding channeled into public private partnerships (PPPs) as it has been suggested that projects that are pursued are ones that are perceived to be financially viable from the private sector perspective; the ethical motivation is profitability over poverty reduction; the privatisation of some services will lead to the poor being left behind because of lack of affordability; and governments’ control over public services is greatly reduced with PPPs. 

So what are the requirements that need to be in place for successful public-private collaborations, and do ethical considerations of the private sector run counter to development objectives?


Dr. Elisa Van Waeyenberge

Elisa is Lecturer in Economics and Research Tutor at SOAS University of London.  She has been coordinator of the Research Cluster International Financial Institutions, Neoliberalism and Knowledge. Her research has focused on the International Financial Institutions, and the political economy of aid and policy reform in low-income countries, with a current interest in the revival of public private partnerships.

Professor Elaine Unterhalter

Elaine is Professor of Education and International Development at UCL's Institute of Education. She works on themes concerned with gender, race and class inequalities and their bearing on education. Her specialist interests are in the capability approach and human development and education in Africa, particularly South Africa. Her current concerns are with education, poverty and global social justice.

Neil Jeffery

Neil is Chief Executive Officer at WSUP - Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor, a non-profit partnership between the private sector, NGOs and research institutions focused on solving the global problem of inadequate water and sanitation in low-income urban communities. Neil has over a decade's experience of  building effective non-profit organizations in Europe and North America.

Dr. Matti Kohonen

Matti is the Principal Adviser (Private Sector) of Christian Aid, leading Christian Aid’s advocacy efforts towards the private sector in the Public Policy Department. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the London School of Economics on the social values of social enterprises in Ghana, and he has worked extensively in the area financing for development and tax justice issues for the past ten years. He joined Christian Aid in September 2014.

Full recording of the debate: