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Aid donors increasingly assume uncritically that private-sector partnerships are crucial for global development. In the right context and with the right regulatory frameworks in place, the private sector can generate growth that reduces poverty and economic and gender inequality. However, donor engagement with for-profit entities entails important inherent risks. Donors must institute checks and balances so partnerships ‘do no harm.’ If Official Development Assistance is involved, the partnership must ‘do good.’ Oxfam reviewed nine donors and 20 partnerships, finding that donors fail to sufficiently integrate development, human rights and environmental principles and standards. They inconsistently implement due diligence and risk management requirements, and development impact assessments are inadequate. Oxfam recommends donors put measures in place to ensure their partnerships with private actors reliably result in people-centred and sustainable development.

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