The World Economies have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and it is estimated that for 2020 the annual financing gap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has ballooned by 70 per cent to US$4.2 trillion. Despite the growing role of government in response to the pandemic, most economies face unprecedented sovereign debt levels, reducing fiscal space more than ever.

According to the World Bank’s latest numbers the percentage of public-private partnerships has dropped by almost half since last year. This is surprising for several reasons:

  • PPPs are much needed to refuel the economies, especially those public-private partnerships close to the government’s policy (e.g. health care, social housing, school, school, clean energy, sanitation, ICT).
  • Public-private partnerships are fully consistent with the spirit of the SDGs and could provide smart and pragmatic mechanisms for identifying the role of government in economic activities. They can optimize the benefits of government intervention and minimize disruptions to market dynamics.
  • PPPs stand as a crucial instrument in mobilizing private finance to put the SDGs back on track with a view to achieving them by 2030.
  • The pandemic has revealed inequalities of all kinds, including eligibility for support. Any assistance in designing or implementing PPPs must be made available not just to climate projects in the world’s poorest countries, but to all the SDGs and all countries in need. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we cannot recover from this crisis until all of us do.

On the occasion of the WBAF World Congress on 16 February 2021 Jean-Christophe Barth-Coullaré, Executive Director of the World Association of PPP Units & Professionals (WAPPP), moderated the topical round table “Fueling European Economies Through  Public-Private Partnerships – PPP for Europe” with knowledgeable panelists. Jacopo Dettoni, Editor of fDi Intelligence – Financial Times, gave an overview on how ESG investments are translating into bigger demand for sustainable assets and long-term PPPs can be an interesting business case for these assets. Helmut von Glasenapp, the Secretary General of the European Association of Long-Term Investors (ELTI) explained how cooperation of private and public investors allowed Business Angels to take more risk and finance higher volumes in collaboration with National Promotional Banks and Institutions (NPBIs). Jan van Schoonhoven, Principal Advisor at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Policy Unit argued that “parentship” between Government and Private sector is more than ever needed to bridge the energy transition, food and water scarcity and the gap between poor and rich. Last but not least Juan Torrents, Chairman of the World Free & Special Zones Federation (FEMOZA) illustrated how PPPs for special economic zones for investors offer economies of scale at a much faster rate than solo private / public investments. 

In light of the massive need to build forward better post COVID-19 a close partnership between the public and private sectors will be critical in establishing a basis for a solid post-COVID-19 recovery.

*WAPPP is proud to announce that this year’s Annual Congress on June 14, 15 and 16 will embody “Next Level PPPs” On the occasion of the WAPPP Annual Congress 2021, both WBAF and WAPPP will be signing a network partnership agreement.

Jean-Christophe Barth-Coullaré serves as Executive Director of the World Association of PPP Units & Professionals | WAPPP, the global home of PPP practitioners. WAPPP is a Geneva-based for impact organization that promotes sustainable and resilient public-private partnerships and is in various sectoral and regional capacity building workstreams to make PPPs better and create value for the future. He co-authored the guide Early Stage Governance – an effective lever for the development of start-ups of the European Champions Alliance and is Past-President of the Swiss Chamber for Commercial Mediation.


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