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Oleg Ignatyev took part in the meeting of the working group at UNECE, held in Geneve

On December 3-4, Geneve hosted the third session of the UNECE working group on the development of PPPs based on the principle of "people first", or People-first PPP. Traditionally, PPPs are used to achieve the best value for money (cost-effectiveness) of a project implemented with private investment ("value for money"). The concept of "people first" implies achieving not only the effect of "value for money", but also the effects of "value for people" and "value for the planet". It is noted that PPP for the benefit of people is a PPP of a new generation, eliminating the shortcomings of the traditional PPP model.

Earlier, 10 PPP guiding principles were approved for the implementation of PPPs for people in support of the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each of which responds to one of the main challenges in the implementation of PPPs for sustainable development:

  • listen to what projects and public services people prefer and ensure that they see project outcomes and benefits;
  • implement more projects in the form of better, simpler and smaller PPPs for the benefit of people;
  • improve skills at all levels and ensure that projects that benefit people contribute to women's empowerment;
  • improve the legal and regulatory framework for PPPs for people to ensure better governance and zero tolerance for corruption;
  • increase transparency and accountability in projects by making full information about projects available to the public;
  • reduce the risk level of projects in order to spread the criteria of PPPs for the benefit of people;
  • encourage the procurement of PPPs for people to take into account not only "value for money" considerations but also the concept of "value to the people";
  • ensure that PPPs for people are environmentally sustainable and "fit for purpose" as part of the 2030 Agenda;
  • encourage blended finance, making it an integral element of advocacy for PPPs for people;
  • enhance the financial sustainability of PPPs for people and avoid the risk of so-called "debt traps".

The implementation and realization of the above principles, according to the PPP working group, should lead to the following outcomes:

  1. Ensuring increased access to basic services and reducing social inequality and social injustice;
  2. Increased resilience and responsible environmental stewardship;
  3. increased economic efficiency and sustainability;
  4. ensuring replicability of implemented projects and development of new ones;
  5. ensuring the full participation of all stakeholders in projects.

A key issue of the third session was the need for a platform specialized in structuring and financing People-first PPP projects to achieve the UN SDGs (Project FacilitationHub). It is planned that the platform will also act as a knowledge aggregator, replicating and providing open access to information on best practices in the area of People-first PPPs.

Questions about the organizational form, structure and role of the platform in project implementation are still under discussion. The platform may be established in cooperation with international development institutions, and the role in project financing should be considered through the prism of other already established financing organizations and institutions, including those specializing in achieving the SDGs - the question of whether the platform will provide grants to countries for project implementation or take an operational role, investing in capital at the initial stage with further exit from the project, will be considered at the next session.

The platform's efforts will focus on high quality People-first PPP projects in low- and middle-income countries in the UNECE region, balancing the social and economic value of infrastructure and having a transformational impact in an international, global, game-changing sense. UNECE is currently finalizing the development of a Project Impact Assessment Tool to monitor projects in need of support from the platform.

Another key issue for discussion was the Model Law on PPPs for People, prepared by the EBRD and the UNECE and recently made available for public consultation. This law translated the People-first principles into a legal text for the first time, with all the features that this implies, protecting the public interest (or "value for people"). This is the first attempt by the UN to translate the SDG cluster into legal principles in a model PPP law.