SDG 16 conference Rome: 3 recommendations

At the conference in preparation for the HLPF 2019, on “PEACEFUL, JUST AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES: SDG 16 IMPLEMENTATION AND THE PATH TOWARDS LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND” (27-29 May 2019, Rome, Italy), Louis spoke in a session on Building effective institutions for implementation of the SDGs at all levels. His intervention ended with three recommendations:

  1. Reviewing and reforming public institutions for SDG implementation should be informed by the 11 Principles of effective governance for sustainable development, developed by the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA) endorsed by the ECOSOC in 2018. Some countries, like Ecuador, have already expressed interest to use these principles.
  2. Agenda 2030 is an overarching meta-policy which requires an overarching meta-governance. Implementing the SDGs poses extremely complex challenges to public institutions. Often, solving one problem creates another problem (the ‘waterbed effect’). Our time is too complex and volatile for single solutions; the mind-set should be “and…and”, instead of “either…or”. A context-specific meta-approach which combines multiple governance interventions is necessary, including strong leadership and applying rule of law, partnerships based on empowerment, and innovation stimulated by incentives, for example.
  3. The SDGs call for bold decisions, but they can only be carried through when those who are governed feel included and understood by those who govern. Therefore:

3a. Promoting public empowerment should be part and parcel of all public policies. Stakeholders and citizens should be empowered to take part in decision making – but the global trend is disempowerment; inequality is increasing.

3b. Real-time collaboration between national and subnational authorities should complement traditional multi-level governance where laws ‘trickle down’ slowly to local governments and local innovation may take long to be supported by the national level. Empowerment of local governments, applying the subsidiarity principle, is essential because they understand the needs of communities the best.