Achieving sustainable, equitable and resilient societies is humankind’s challenge
for the 21st century. In pursuit of this ambition, the international development community
needs a shared, universal framework, within which to work more closely together. The
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the obvious answer, but a number of technical,
political and organisational challenges prevent development co-operation providers
from using them as their common results framework. Based on seven case studies, this
publication identifies two critical factors and one game changer that can help overcome
those challenges. First, country leadership needs to be supported by the international
community. Second, development partners need to change their set-ups in order to deliver
on the SDGs. Finally, by forcing governments and development partners to reset their
long-term strategies and rethink their internal systems, the COVID-19 pandemic provides
them with a rare opportunity to use the SDG framework collectively as a roadmap to
recovery: this can be a game changer.
Published on November 22, 2021Also available in: French
Susanna Moorehead, Chair of the Development Assistance Committee
Zuena Aziz, Principal Coordinator for SDG Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Bangladesh
Marion Barthelemy, Director, Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development, UNDESA
Felix Fernandez-Shaw,Director INTPA.D, Sustainable Development Policy and Coordination, Directorate General for International Partnerships, EU
High-level panel discussion moderated by
Tumi Makgabo, South African Journalist
Jorge Moreira Da Silva, Director, Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD
Why is this report relevant?
The SDGs are more that an ambition – they provide development actors with a common roadmap that can steer more effective development.
Understanding these benefits and the critical importance of drawing on the SDGs to guide development action, the OECD conducted a three-year research project, in partnership with seven governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific; and together with 63 bilateral and multilateral development partners.
Integration of the SDGs in development co-operation offers concrete benefits that can accelerate achievement of development results, but so far, SDG uptake has been slow and difficult.
A series of comparative case studies showcase that alignment of development co-operation to SDG results is possible. The report highlights six strategic actions and practices needed to ensure that political commitments translate into action and SDG impact.
Most development co-operation providers use the SDGs to frame their co-operation policies, and almost all refer to the SDGs in their development co-operation policies and strategies. In turn, they have progressively defined their SDG priorities in a broad sense.
However, progress in targeting specific SDG results at global and country level is still relatively limited. The report and case studies discuss the obstacles that policy makers and development co-operation managers have faced in integrating the SDG framework into their work, as well as the solutions that helped them increase their focus on the SDGs.
Key action points to address the challenges
How can policy makers and development co-operation managers be successful in supporting the achievement of the SDGs?
Promote the achievement of SDG results from the top
Leadership widely communicates the purpose and benefits of SDG alignment across their organisation. Management sets clear SDG results for the organisation and uses the SDG results information to improve strategic management at all levels. The SDGs are not only part of the narrative and justification for development co -operation, but they should steer action too.
Invest in organisational transformation needed for the SDGs
Leadership provides guidance, incentives and resources to support changes in management processes and systems that will allow using the SDGs to their full potential, and as a road map for an inclusive and sustainable recovery. These investments will increase the organisation’s managerial focus on long-term outcomes and its capacity to work across sector silos – essential for addressing the complex development challenges ahead. Leadership provides guidance, incentives and resources to support the management process.
Adapt SDG alignment strategies to each country context
Recognising that partner countries should lead the alignment to SDG results at country level, be selective in sequencing the alignment of development co-operation programmes to SDG results on a case-by-case basis. As a general rule, synchronise your alignment process with country-led initiatives at national, sector or subnational levels. Avoid going solo.
Support countries in SDG mainstreaming efforts
Wherever relevant, join forces with partner governments in realigning national or sector policies, financing and monitoring systems around SDG results. To ensure broad ownership and sustainability, help promote inclusive and participatory approaches around these processes. Promote inclusive and participatory approaches.
Invest in country-led SDG data to jointly monitor progress towards the SDGs
Use the country-led data for joint monitoring of progress. Avoid collecting SDG data that only meet internal domestic reporting and accountability needs.
Build partnerships with others around specific SDG results
The scale of the issues reflected in the SDGs surpasses the capacity of any individual partner to deliver. Join with others in co-designing, co-financing, analysing, monitoring, implementing and evaluating development programmes in support of specific SDG results. Join with others in co-designing, co- financing, analysing, monitoring, implementing and evaluating development programmes in support of specific SDG results.