It is about time to promote policy and institutional coherence for the SDGs

Short guest article published on the website of IISD on 18 April 2018, summarising the CEPA paper Louis wrote on policy and institutional coherence, with 10 recommendations, clustered in three groups:



Principles for better coherence
1. Promote policy coherence always in synergy with promoting institutional coherence.
2. Adapt coherence measures to the SDGs and to the context in which they will be implemented. The principle of “‘common but differentiated governance” (Meuleman & Niestroy 2015) fully applies to policy and institutional coherence.
3. Involve the private sector, civil society and the academic world in concrete action for the promotion of coherence, as they are indispensable partners with essential knowledge about what works where and when.

Planning, design and implementation for better coherence
4. Develop national work programmes for the promotion of policy and institutional coherence, which are synergistic and do not undermine each other, with a mechanism to monitor effectiveness.
5. Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach, it is advisable to combine multiple approaches to the promotion of coherence, including the nine approaches mentioned above(*). They should be considered in a synergistic way.
6. Combine various concrete tools that promote coherence-, using “tool boxes” from different governance styles: hierarchical (regulatory), network (collaboration) and market (efficiency/incentives) governance. The three
families of tools express different and sometimes contradicting, but in principle complementary, cultural values, traditions and assumptions.
7. Redirect public sector reform to perform on the SDGs, and in particular on policy and institutional coherence, with the motto “reform to perform.”

Learning for better coherence
8. Introduce a global peer-to-peer learning tool for the promotion of coherence, financing the travel and accommodation costs of experts from one country who are willing to advise another country through expert missions, study visits or small workshops. It could be based on existing peer-to-peer tools (e.g. two recent European
Commission tools on environmental implementation and regional policy).
9. Establish a global network (community of practice) of national coherence promotion coordinators. This would accelerate mutual learning and the exchange of good practices and failed attempts among those who are responsible at the national level for progress on coherence. Peer coaching programmes could be developed among governments from different countries. Coaching, also by professional advisors and consultants, could become the new standard to accelerate policy and institutional coherence. Existing networks could be involved, such as the Centre of Excellence for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (COE). Use existing OECD guidance(2016/2017).
10. Training is the basis: national public administration schools should integrate the promotion of coherence for the SDGs as a priority in their curricula. Other schools and universities should join this effort.

A pdf version is available.

(*) see the pdf version of the short article.