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The SDGs are here… Now what?

 

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Development Post - 29 March 2016

By Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and former Prime Minister of New Zealand


We face the challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in a world faced with multiple and diverse forms of crisis. What do the SDGs mean for countries where families have to flee their homes to escape conflict, where rising sea levels threaten lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, and where economies are devastated by the impact of epidemics or terrorism?

Clearly, the effects of such trends are not confined to the countries in which they originate. Instead, they spill over to neighbouring countries and far beyond, with regional and global consequences that are now posing challenges to many countries, north and south.

The interlinked and comprehensive nature of the SDGs challenges us to identify entry points in many different contexts, and to address the critical bottlenecks that must be removed if no one is to be left behind.  

Four areas are fundamental to achieving the SDGs.

1)      Strong national ownership and leadership: Theexperience of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) showed that the most important determinants of progress include strong leadership committed to global goals and proactive and capable governance institutions at the national and local levels to ensure that the global agenda is translated into national strategies, budgets and actions. We need to work together more closely than ever to help strengthen capacities, whatever the country context.  

2)      Active coalitions, engaged stakeholders and knowledge exchange: The 2030 Agenda will need to draw on solutions and experiences from across countries, stakeholder groups and sectors. Today’s world offers new and diverse resources and technologies. UNDP values its engagement with the OECD in support of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation that seeks to maximize the impact of development co-operation.

3)      Enabling resources: The 2015 Addis Ababa Action Accord on Financing for Development emphasizes that financing for development requires far more than traditional development assistance. Countries will need to tap all forms of finance -- public and private, domestic and international, and environmental and developmental. A critical challenge will be to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable are reached and that Official Development Assistance (ODA) is used in catalytic ways to leverage additional domestic financing. For instance, the UNDP-OECD Tax Inspectors Without Borders initiative works to help local officials in the tax administrations of developing countries access cutting-edge tax audit expertise to increase tax revenue.

4)      Robust follow-up and review: The 2030 Agenda challenges every country to assess progress. Sound accountability mechanisms and timely, disaggregated data are among the minimum requirements for designing, monitoring and evaluating progress towards the SDGs. UNDP and OECD are collaborating closely to help support data-driven decision-making by initiating more open, new and usable data through the new Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.

The 2030 Agenda was adopted by 193 governments, but governments on their own cannot drive the agenda. Leadership is needed from the multilateral system. UNDP is working within the UN Development Group to implement a common approach to SDG implementation. We title our approach MAPS – which stands for Mainstreaming, Acceleration, and Policy Support. This will see the UN development system in-country working to:

  • land the agenda at national and local levels (mainstreaming);
  • target resources at removing bottlenecks to sustainable development (acceleration); and
  • make UN thematic expertise available in an effective and coherent way (policy support).


As the UN’s broad-based development organisation, which also is responsible for leading the coordination of all agencies in the UN development system, UNDP is well placed to play its part in supporting governments to drive forward on the SDGs, in promoting citizen engagement and in convening the broad partnerships necessary for SDG success. We also will support review processes at the global level and the all-important SDG reporting at the national level.

We look forward to continuing our close work with the OECD over the lifetime of the 2030 Agenda -- to strengthen analysis to help inform sound policymaking, foster global partnerships, help catalyse the necessary data revolution and foster innovative financing solutions to ensure the realisation of the agenda’s aspirations. The objective is for all people, everywhere, to enjoy well-being and to safeguard the natural environment for future generations.



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This article should not be reported as representing the official views of the OECD, the OECD Development Centre or of their member countries. The opinions expressed and arguments employed are those of the author. 

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