New Policy Brief Published on Coherent Governance for the Sustainable Development Goals


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  • 2014•06•24

    One of the main challenges for the post-2015 agenda on sustainable development will be linking international and domestic efforts. A new policy brief published by UNU-IAS explores opportunities for creating such a coherent governance system. Coherent Governance, the UN and the SDGs was produced by an international group of experts on environmental governance led by Prof. Steven Bernstein (University of Toronto) and Prof. Joyeeta Gupta (University of Amsterdam).

    Prof. Bernstein explained that “while the formulation of the SDGs has been occupying governments and NGOs, this brief tries to draw attention to the next step in that process – the design of institutional arrangements that can support their implementation and review at the global and national levels”.

    This policy brief is the fourth in the POST2015/UNU-IAS Policy Brief Series, which explores governance issues related to the SDGs. While the first three policy briefs in the series focused significantly on the process of construction of goals in the SDGs, this brief focuses on the next stage of the process: implementation.

    The brief sets out five key messages:

    1. The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) can be a lead “orchestrator of orchestrators” but will require high-level participation, innovative modalities for North–South dialogue, and links with intermediaries inside and outside of the UN system.
    2. Monitoring and review processes are crucial and the HLPF meetings with the UN General Assembly can serve to revise the SDGs as data from these system reviews become available.
    3. Reviews could be organized around common challenges (countries with megacities or those dealing with declining freshwater) in order to maximize systemic assessments.
    4. The new Global Sustainable Development Report should not just collect other reports, but bring together knowledge to fill implementation gaps and identify possible transition pathways.
    5. Governance of the SDGs should focus on mobilizing action at multiple levels.

    The policy brief observes that the unique hybrid structure of the HLPF brings a number of advantages for harnessing diverse action. As proposed in the first brief in the series (Earth System Challenges and A Multi-layered Approach for the Sustainable Development Goals), an important organizing goal should be to mobilize action at diverse levels and include nonstate entities, partnerships, and action networks. Highlighting this issue, Prof. Gupta explained that “goal implementation needs an orchestrator of orchestrators to inspire multi-level and multi-actor action to implement the SDGs”.

    The POST2015/UNU-IAS Policy Brief Series is produced by the UNU-IAS project Governance for Sustainable Development, the Earth System Governance project, and the POST2015 project. Future briefs and reports will be published on the UNU-IAS website as they become available.

    For more information about the Governance for Sustainable Development project and the POST2015 project, please contact project leader Prof. Norichika Kanie (

  • Post2015 UNU-IAS Policy Brief 4

    Post2015 UNU-IAS Policy Brief 4 (623.5 KB PDF)