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Innovation Hub News

Recap learning session – The role of PPP for Climate Resilience

In this learning session, Partos, together with Woord&Daad, RVO, and TuE dove into the topic of Public-Private-Partnerships for Climate Resilience. We talked about its origin, real-life examples, challenges one might face when working with PPPs and how to overcome these. Read on to catch the key insights into this dynamic topic and make sure to check the recording!

Watch the recording here!
18 April 2024

Setting the scene

Private finance for adaptation has changed a lot over the last decade. Especially in the shadow of the Copenhagen agreement in 2009, in which was stated that developed countries would provide one hundred billion in climate finance or mobilize it to support developing countries with climate change, adaptation, and mitigation.

The novelty here was that these financial means should come from public and private sources, something that had not been done before. Before 2009 there was hardly any experience with private finance for adaptation. This raised questions such as “What is private sector contribution to an international goal?”, “What companies can be held accountable for meeting this target or not?”, “How effective is private investment in adaptation?”,… Ever since, many different initiatives have been developed from infrastructural projects, such as the mixed-use tunnel in Kuala Lumpur or company partnership with development agencies for fair value chains.

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can take many different forms. We define PPPs as governance arrangements that involve at least one public and at least one private organization and that aim to produce collective goods, such as increasing overall resilience. The advantage of such partnerships is that they pool resources, thus theoretically allowing each partner to play to its strengths. For instance, partnerships between businesses and NGOs can combine the scale and market influence of companies with the legitimacy of NGOs to achieve a greater and credible impact.”

Pieter Pauw, Tu Eindhoven

A real-life example: Abaca cultivation 

Abaca is a fiber that comes from the abaca plant, which is a family of the banana tree. The difference is that banana trees often grow in big plantations, whereas abaca grows in the wild. It is a very strong fiber that can serve many purposes, both for low-quality applications, as well as premium markets.

Abaca needs an enabling environment. It needs shade, good soil,… Therefore there is an economic incentive to keep the environment in place. Additionally, the farmers we work with live in more remote, indigenous areas. The abaca is often planted on slopes, so pieces of land that are not used in another way. So basically, unused land is being revitalized, and often new trees are also being planted. Lastly, in case of an extreme weather event such as flooding or a cyclone, the abaca plant can be damaged but the root remains in the soil. This allows new sprouts to come up, so the farmer’s investment will remain.

This in combination with an increased demand for natural products around the world makes abaca in interesting source of investment. We also assist farmers to fully utilize this potential by training them to cultivate high-quality abaca. (The price differences are quite significant.) We also work with the Ministry of Agriculture to enable farmers to access loans to invest in their land.

This kind of approach uses the system rather than trying to work outside of it. We want to prevent also that we are taking over roles of the government or private sector, but rather stimulate actors to perform their role good, or even better than they could.

“We try to have value dialogue, not about who gets most of the pie, but how can we make the pie bigger together? So that everybody benefits.”

Antonie Treuren (Woord&Daad)


What the private sector brings in these partnerships is the access to know-how and the technologies and ability to set this up. The public involvement is also very important because we want to see local embeddedness. So NGOs and government roles are equally important.

In some of these projects, we see very innovative initiatives come up, such as payment for ecosystem models where the government and private sector work together to make sure that farmers stop cutting more trees to large in their farms, to get a financial return to save the trees, protect the forest and being trained in conservation. These kinds of initiatives are really popping up with the PPP programs.

However, there are also many challenges. Most projects run for 5 to 7 years, so it is hard to measure impact over this period. For farmers, it is also difficult to jump into landscape restoration. Often they dip in their income, so how do you go about that? Trees take a long time to grow, so what’s the benefit of moving from maize to trees?
How does one assure a plan B, in case something goes wrong? Who is then responsible?
Or how does one tackle potential conflicts of interest? What perspective is leading, the business case or the local interest? It is important to really understand the needs and interest of the people and make sure these voices get heard sufficiently.

We are talking about real system change here, that is not easy to do. You need long-term perspective and commitment to achieve that.

Eline Minneboo (RVO)

Curious for more?

Watch the recording here or dive into the PowerPoints below:

Download PPT Antonie Treuren (Woord&Daad)

Download PPT Eline Minneboo (RVO)

Download PPT Pieter Pauw (TuE)

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