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Keywords:

  • certification;
  • effectiveness;
  • governance;
  • interaction;
  • partnership;
  • regime

ABSTRACT

Over the past decade, partnerships have increasingly become a popular governance instrument for sustainable development. This article aims to improve our understanding of this instrument, and its contributions to and consequences for international sustainable development politics, by providing the lessons learned from international biodiversity governance. The article analyses 24 international partnerships working on forests, fisheries, conservation and climate change, using perspectives based on regime, governance and partnership literature. It concludes that the contribution of the partnerships should be evaluated as varying: only seven 'gems' of partnerships fulfil important governance functions; the others play less paramount roles. Partnerships have, however, contributed to the ongoing change in the manner in which biodiversity is governed, namely the institutionalization of intersectoral governance. The article promotes a more strategic use of the partnership instrument, taking into account its opportunities and limitations, to strengthen its contributions to international sustainable development. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.