sustainable development goals

Policy Coherence in Practice, Delivering Sustainable Development

July 3, 2016 — At a time of climate disruption and accelerated ecosystem degradation, rising inequalities, economic insecurity, and citizen’s disaffection with governments around the world, reconciling environmental, economic and social concerns is essential for all countries. This integration is central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to shift our societies towards shared and sustainable prosperity. As decision-makers work on solutions, it’s becoming clear that a vital ingredient for achieving this transition is policy coherence.

This key issue drew hundreds of people to join WRI at a high-level event in Brussels on June 16, during the 10th annual European Development Days, to discuss what policy coherence means in practice. While 95 percent of attendees – government officials, development practitioners and civil society actors – agreed that policy coherence is pivotal to achieving the SDGs, there was also recognition of just how large a challenge it is to achieve.

As David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General pointed out, policy coherence is about political coherence, to ensure that actions by a nation’s various government departments do not cancel each other out. For example, a country aiming to mitigate climate change needs to make sure it doesn’t undercut that effort by offering fossil fuel subsidies. And rich countries working to help poorer ones through development partnerships must make sure their trade policies don’t scuttle this objective. As Nabarro also noted, policy coherence matters for every country: “We are all developing countries now.” But according to Doug Frantz, the OECD Deputy Secretary-General, some developed countries are reluctant to look in the mirror to see what needs to change, for instance, in order to reform their unsustainable production and consumption habits. In this regard, Frantz was glad that the OECD got a new mandate in June, though not without difficulty, to spur and support SDG implementation of its members at home. Such a mandate is critical for high-income countries, as the OECD’s influence, data collection and interpretation abilities can all serve to accelerate action.


by World Resources Institute (WRI) | Global Daily