Public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the delivery of public services have become a phenomenon which is spreading the globe and generating great interest. But why is a concept, barely mentioned a decade ago, now attracting such interest? Overall, the answer is that PPPs avoid the often negative effects of either exclusive public ownership and delivery of services, on the one hand, or outright privatization, on the other. In contrast, PPPs combine the best of both worlds: the private sector with its resources, management skills and technology; and the public sector with its regulatory actions and protection of the public interest. This balanced approach is especially welcome in the delivery of public services which touch on every human being’s basic needs.
There are lots of good reasons, therefore, why governments in the UNECE region and around the world favour PPPs and plenty of evidence that they work well. But they do present a severe organizational and institutional challenge for the public sector. They are complex in nature, requiring different types of skills and new enabling institutions and they lead to changes in the status of public sector jobs. To work well they require well-functioning institutions, transparent, efficient procedures and accountable and competent public and private sectors, i.e. ‘good governance’. To address the challenge, the UNECE has elaborated this Guidebook for policymakers, government officials and the private sector. We hope that all the parties to PPPs will benefit by examining closely the principles contained in the Guidebook and ensuring their implementation.