International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

6.1 - Facilitators Guide

GEF PMs are often required to engage key stakeholders in their project region. The following guide should serve as a tool to help PMs facilitate initial conversations regarding the formation and implementation of a potential public-private partnership.

GEF PMs are often required to engage key stakeholders in their project region.  The following guide should serve as a tool to help PMs facilitate initial conversations regarding the formation and implementation of a potential public-private partnership:

1.0 Facilitating the Conversation

Facilitating means literally ‘making it easier’. The facilitator’s role is therefore to make it easy for participants to engage in this conversation and gain value from it.  It is very important to set the scene at the beginning by clearly establishing the purpose of the conversation.  After that, you will be mainly asking questions to the group, gently guiding the conversation when necessary, keeping it on track and occasionally linking or building on the different points participants make.

This conversation will:

  • Give participants an opportunity present their contributions and desired outcomes of a partnership
  • Open the discussion for the advantages and disadvantages of a partnership
  • Present to the group the basic principles of public-private partnerships as ideas to consider
  • Motivate participants to take action

If the conversation runs out of steam, suggest that participants work on the next question in pairs or small groups of four to get them engaged again instead of trying to fill the void yourself.  Another challenge is to not let a few individuals dominate the entire conversation.  Invite the participation of those who haven’t spoken yet, being careful not to put anyone on the spot.  Finally, keep an eye on your watch.  You want to leave enough time in the end (a minimum of 15 minutes) to properly wrap up the conversation, get feedback and discuss possible follow-up.

There are six points to remember when facilitating this conversation during a meeting around public-private partnerships:

  • Resist temptation to teach – facilitate
  • Resist temptation to answer all the questions – reflect back
  • Resist temptation to convince – use questions
  • Make the conversation flow
  • Help participants see the bigger picture/vision
  • Find your own words and examples

2.0 Introduction

The objective of the introduction of the partnership session is to orientate participants by giving them some background information about public-private partnerships.  Allow participants the opportunity to introduce themselves and explain what they hope to get out of the conversation.

3.0 Evaluate the Purpose

The following questions will help outline and increase understanding of the partnership purpose:

  • What are the water delivery problems or other environmental challenges that this partnership addresses?  The project must first address key transboundary environmental challenges which the partnership should support.
  • What is the target population or beneficiaries of this project?  What will its impact on stress reduction be?
  • What are the business relevant actions and outcomes?
  • How will the partnership improve impact?

For more information regarding potential motivations of key stakeholders please see Table 1 in About PPPs.

4.0 Exploring Partnership

The check list in Section 3 outlines the key steps to explore the potential partnership.  Dialogue among stakeholders will assist in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a partnership and potential roles of each partner.  The following questions may help lead the conversation:

  • What are the services that the public and private entities will provide?  How are they different?  How do they complement one another?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the partnership?
  • What does each partner have to offer?
  • What are the roles of each partner?
  • Over what period is the outcome to be provided – short, medium, or long-term – or is it just a ‘one-off’?   Will the outcome be sustainable and/or scalable?
  • What are the key implementation activities to be undertaken?
  • How will the partnership improve impact?
  • Does each partner provide all the additional resources required for the partnership?
  • What operational risks may be lowered with the outcomes of the partnership?
  • What were the factors that encouraged the private sector to join the partnership?

5.0 Pursuing a Partnership

If the participants are willing to pursue a partnership, they should discuss the next steps and items for follow-up based on the discussion.  If a public-private partnership does not seem to be the most beneficial route, find other ways that participants may collaborate and meet their objectives.

6.0 Principles of Public and Private Sector Collaboration[1]

The following guiding principles will ensure a productive conversation.

Private Sector

  • DO your homework – ensure that managers and/or sales representatives articulate in an informed manner about their business.  Read annual reports and other communication regarding commitments to sustainability or water.
  • DO get a list of contacts out to sales representatives with management approval (if appropriate).
  • DO work towards building long-term relationships.
  • DON’T expect a quick “sale”.

Public Sector

  • DO work together to create an understanding of the private sector.
  • DO share strategic plans and missions, goals and objectives openly with the private sector.
  • DO allow venues by which private sector can meet and communicate with the user community in the collaborative environment (i.e., open houses, public/private meet & greet).
  • DO educate procurement staffs.
  • DO educate public officials on the business drivers for the private sector.
  • DON’T place unreasonable restrictions on vendors.
  • DON’T have unrealistic expectations.

Both Sectors

  • DO be inclusive, not exclusive.
  • DO strive for “win/win” scenarios.
  • DO identify the business case for the private or public sector - why is collaboration a win-win. This could include direct outcomes (profits, sales) or indirect (improve reputation & outreach/corporate responsibility motivated).
  • DO expand neutral ground opportunities to communicate.
  • DO separate procurement process from business relationship.
  • DO identify common interests (e.g., project failures or overruns in paper, lessons learned).
  • DO take advantage of GEF events and education.

7.0 Beneficial Impacts

Experience suggests that a number of factors have a beneficial effect on partnerships.  These include:

  • Success, no matter how small, boosts the morale of all partners
  • Mutual trust and understanding of each other’s operating environment
  • Good communications play a vital part in avoiding misunderstandings and providing timely interventions
  • Transparency, openness and honesty
  • Willingness to change behavior patterns

[1] NASCIO, May 2006,