This chapter examines the democratic credentials of strategic cross-sectoral partnerships for sustainable development. Over the past decade, collaborative interactions that draw together novel combinations of actors from government, business and civil society have increasingly come to be seen as critical to promoting sustainable development (WSSD, 2002). But worries about the real impact of such partnerships remain. For the most part, debate has focused on effectiveness: can partnerships actually promote better environment and development outcomes? Here I would like to address a related anxiety - that partnerships have weak representative and participatory foundations, and that their widespread deployment will ultimately undermine democratic norms and practices. The argument is organized into six parts: (1) a brief introduction; (2) a presentation of the democratic critique of partnerships; (3) an initial reply to this critique; (4) a more positive statement of the democratic potential of partnerships; (5) consideration of the additional complexities posed by international partnerships and (6) the implications for the future.

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Meadowcroft, J. (2007). Democracy and accountability: The challenge for cross-sectoral partnerships. In Partnerships, Governance and Sustainable Development: Reflections on Theory and Practice (pp. 194–213).