Development Co-operation Directorate

OECD and the Sustainable Development Goals: Delivering on universal goals and targets


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are broad and ambitious, calling on all countries – be they upper, middle or low income – to make tangible improvements to the lives of their citizens. The ‌goals ‌encompass social, environmental and economic aspects.

The OECD supports the United Nations in ensuring the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by bringing together its existing knowledge, and its unique tools and experience, including:

  • a strong track record in policy work with developed and developing countries
  • measures and systems for monitoring performance.

In addition, OECD partnerships are creating synergies among private and public, domestic and international, and donor and developing country resources to provide countries with a strong support mechanism on which to build towards a better future.

 > Don't missBetter Policies for 2030: An OECD Action Plan on the Sustainable Development Goals

 > View alsoMeasuring Distance to the SDG Targets: an assessment of where OECD countries stand. The Study has been undertaken to assist member countries with their national implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but also to help countries navigate the SDGs’ complexity and identify priorities within the broad SDG Agenda. Drawing on the IAEG Global List of indicators and leveraging on the wealth of OECD data, this methodology evaluates the distance countries need to travel to meet each target.

Improving policy coherence


The multi-dimensional nature of the SDGs requires linkages across policy areas. The OECD addresses the multidimensional nature of diverse issues through a variety of horizontal projects and international initiatives. Its Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development Framework helps to identify synergies and trade-offs among economic, social and environmental policy areas. 

The SDGs provide a solid foundation for supporting resilient societies, dealing with humanitarian emergencies, and reducing risks of instability and shocks – even in the most difficult places.

The OECD is helping countries to review their policies and approaches to working in challenging contexts to ensure they are fit for purpose.

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Promoting investment in sustainable development  

The ambitious scope of the SDGs will require financing on an unprecedented scale. New resources must be tapped and commitments must be measured and monitored.  Private investment is essential to deliver long-term sustainable development. The OECD Policy Framework for Investment is a comprehensive and systematic approach to improving investment conditions, an ideal tool for unlocking private resources.

The OECD also works with developing countries on many fronts to support them in mobilising domestic resources.

Official development assistance (ODA), which is tracked and monitored by the OECD, will remain at the core of many developing countries’ financing portfolios – especially the neediest countries. In addition, the new OECD-developed framework for total official support for sustainable development (TOSSD) captures a wide range of resources in support of sustainable development that complement ODA.

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Supporting inclusive growth and well-being  

The SDGs promise to leave no one behind, putting sustainable development in motion everywhere, for the benefit of all.

The OECD Framework for Measuring Well-Being and Progress goes beyond GDP growth and is increasingly being used by developing countries to identify and assess development challenges. Other OECD projects, such as the Inclusive Growth initiative, the Multi-Dimensional Country Reviews, regional policy assessment programmes, and youth inclusion and social protection projects in developing countries also incorporate well-being. 

The OECD works in particular to deliver the SDGs for women and girls through a range of partnerships and programmes. It also provides solid and comprehensive policies for the integration of migrants and their children.

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Ensuring the planet's sustainability  

Successful implementation of the SDGs will require striking a balance between socio-economic progress, sustaining the planet’s resources and ecosystems, and combatting climate change.

OECD works with its members, partner countries and other stakeholders to ensure sound environmental management that supports the sustained achievement of economic development and prosperity, while delivering human security and resilience. For example, together with the World Water Council, the OECD has created a High Level Panel on Financing Infrastructure for a Water Secure World.

The OECD tracks international climate finance and is sharing its expertise on these flows, and on the implications of different methodologies for estimating climate finance.

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Promoting partnerships  

To implement the SDG goals and targets, governments all over the world, international and non-governmental organisations, the private sector and civil society will need to team up. Working together they can unlock the necessary financial resources, share technologies and create national capacities.

The OECD provides a platform for dialogue and exchange. Together with UNDP it supports the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which brings all stakeholders to the table to discuss development issues on an equal footing.

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Strengthening data availability and capacity  

Turning the ambition of the SDGs into reality will require robust data to capture progress and evidence to inform decision making.

The OECD is helping countries to track progress in areas such as trust, health inequalities, green growth, income and consumption inequality, and job quality. It supports countries in developing and using environmental and green growth indicators and in achieving environment-economy integration over time.

The OECD also supports developing countries in building their own statistical capacities and systems through the PARIS21 partnership.

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Facilitating follow up and review  

‌Inclusive follow up and review mechanisms will be essential to incentivise action and learning around the 2030 Agenda.

OECD country assessments, peer reviews and peer learning mechanisms across a range of policy fields – economic, investment, environmental, energy, migration, education, development co-operation and more – play a key role in sharing learning and knowledge, improving policies and practices, and building trust and mutual respect among partners.

The OECD is adapting its range of assessment and learning mechanisms - including the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA -  to the new 2030 Agenda.

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> Events supported by the OECD at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit


Further reading

The Role of Development Finance in Climate Action Post-2015, by Tara Shine and Gisela Campillo, OECD Working Paper, (22 December 2016)

The European Space Agency and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by Johann-Dietrich Wörner, Development Post (25 May 2016)

Gender Equality and the Sustainable Development Goals, by Monika Queisser, OECD Insights (16 May 2016)

Partnering with philanthropy to optimise a country’s resources: Mexico’s case, by Emilie Romon, Development Post (3 May 2016)

An Action Plan for the SDGs, by Doug Frantz, Development Post (25 April 2016)

A Policy Pathfinder for the Sustainable Development Goals, by Ron Gass, OECD Insights (19 April 2016)

Learning from the Millennium Development Goals: How Can the Global Alliance for Resilience Contribute to the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals?, by Ousman Tall, OECD Insights (13 April 2016)

Building a GPS for the SDGs: The OECD’s data response to the SDGs, by Martine Durand, Development Post (12 April 2016)

Food Security and the Sustainable Development Goals, by Jonathan Brooks, OECD Insights (6 April 2016)

SDG data discussion: what next?, by Johannes Jütting, Development Post (5 April 2016)

Coordination and Implementation of the SDGs: The Role of the Centres of Government, by Luiz de Mello, OECD Insights (5 April 2016)

The SDGs are here… Now what?, by Helen Clark, Development Post (29 March 2016)

The Sustainable Development Goals: A Duty and an Opportunity, by Gabriela Ramos (28 March 2016)

We need to talk about the SDGs, by Brian Keeley, OECD Insights (27 Oct 2015)

World Bank/IMF & G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting: Written statement to the Development CommitteeAngel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, and Erik Solheim, OECD DAC Chair (Lima, Peru, 10 Oct 2015)

Global Parliamentary Network meeting - A conversation on the sustainable development agenda, remarks by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría (Paris, 1 Oct 2015)

‌Press release: OECD’s Gurría urges countries to act on UN Sustainable Development Goals (26 Sept 2015)

Statement to the United Nations Summit for the Adoption of the post-2015 Agenda, remarks by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría (New York, 25 Sept 2015)

#UNGA70: How Can We Effectively Implement the 17 new Global Goals? by Angel Gurría, The U.S. Department of State Blog (25 Sept 2015)

Progress for women and girls in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by Emily Esplen, OECD Observer (Sept 2015)

Education, learning and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by Michael Ward, OECD Observer (Sept 2015)