A public-private partnership (PPP) is a form of partnership which involves both the government and a private business entity as partners. The “public” element of public-private partnership then refers to the government partner, while the “private” element of a PPP refers to the business entity partner.
Public-private partnerships, like most partnerships, will vary in their exact terms and nature from case to case, depending upon the desires and goals of those parties involved in public-private partnerships.
The primary function of a PPP is to allow private companies to assist in the development of some element of the infrastructure of the country by forming a public-private partnership with the government, which will then most often result in profit for the private company of the public-private partnership and an improved infrastructure for the government.
The idea of a PPP was initially formed as a way to assist in the elimination of costs for the government, and thus for the taxpayer, in terms of important functions of infrastructure, although this initial idea has since been proven to be untrue. Instead, a PPP is likely to provide a safer allotment of liability for a given project.
Public-private partnerships are most commonly used in Europe, particularly in the European Union and the United Kingdom. There are many international examples of public-private partnerships, however, which extend beyond the borders of any single nation. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) has become something of a public-private partnership as it has collaborated more and more with private pharmaceutical and research companies, although the WHO still receives significant funding from the member governments of the United Nations.