What are Public Private Partnerships?

There is no one widely accepted definition of public-private partnerships (PPP). The PPP Knowledge Lab defines a PPP as "a long-term contract between a private party and a government entity, for providing a public asset or service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility, and remuneration is linked to performance".  PPPs typically do not include service contracts or turnkey construction contracts, which are categorized as public procurement projects, or the privatization of utilities where there is a limited ongoing role for the public sector. For a broader discussion, see PPP Knowledge Lab. An increasing number of countries are enshrining a definition of PPPs in their laws, each tailoring the definition to their institutional and legal particularities

Learn more about the range of agreements typically classed as PPP projects in PPP Arrangements and Types of Public Private Partnership Agreements.

What is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP)? from PPPLRC - World Bank on Vimeo.

In some jurisdictions, and in particular civil law counties that follow the tradition of the Code Napoleon, a distinction is made between public contracts such as concessions, where the private party is providing a service directly to the public and taking end user risk, and PPPs, where the private party is delivering a service to a public party in the form of a bulk supply, such as a Built-Operate-Transfer (BOT) project for a water treatment plant, or the management of existing facilities (e.g. hospital facilities) against a fee.

In other countries, specific sectors are excluded from the definition, particularly those sectors which are subject to effective regulation or where there is extensive private sector initiative, such as in ICTTelecoms. In some countries arrangements involving more limited risk transfer such as management contracts are excluded from the definition for institutional reasons as the authorities prefer that they fall under traditional procurement processes for goods and services. For sample laws, go to PPP Legislation and Laws.

For more information, please see: About Public-Private Partnerships.

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Updated: December 9, 2022