Making policies work

Policy coherence

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By 2030, all nations must deliver on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its 169 targets. Yet, this will be possible only if policies work in harmony across different domains. Goal 17 therefore calls for policy coherence for sustainable development.

Policy incoherence can seriously undermine development. For instance, foreign policies that may at first seem far removed from development could in practice hinder, or even undo development progress. Trade policies that seek to maximise economic gains may do more harm than good for the poorest, or for the environment.

But policy coherence is not easy to implement, first and foremost because it is inherently a matter of politics. It involves policy conflicts for which compromises need to be found. Moreover, progress in policy coherence is difficult to measure, and there is little hard evidence which can help to quantify whether policies are more or less coherent and whether progress is being made.

Policy coherence for (sustainable) development

While policy coherence for sustainable development (PCSD) effectively puts policy coherence on the global agenda, the idea is not new. European policymakers have talked about PCD, or policy coherence for development, for over twenty years. It even has a legal base in Article 208 of the Treaty of the European Union.

The basic concept of PCD is that the EU’s external and internal policies should take account of – and not undermine – its development policy. PCSD in contrast broadens the concept out to all policies, in all directions. Promoting PCD is therefore one contribution to promoting PCSD.

Our contribution to policy coherence

We have promoted policy coherence for over two decades. Our research and analyses have raised awareness and increased knowledge on how policy incoherence can be addressed. We also organise and facilitate meetings and training sessions for and together with policymakers – at the EU level and in various European countries, but also beyond.

Would you like to know more about our work on policy coherence or share your thoughts? Get in touch with James Mackie, Fabien TondelMartin Ronceray or Eunike Spierings.


Analysis and opinion


Understanding illicit financial flows and efforts to combat them in Europe and Africa
Luckystar Miyandazi and Martin Ronceray, ECDPM paper, June 2018

Good enough coherence? Six lessons from good governance for policy coherence and the 2030 Agenda
Jan Vanheukelom, James Mackie and Martin Ronceray, contribution to external publication, May 2018

Policy Coherence in 2017: Lessons from the United Nations High Level Political Forum
Martin Ronceray, ECDPM blog, September 2017

Étude sur la cohérence des politiques pour le développement agricole et la sécurité alimentaire : le cas de l’agriculture et du commerce au Burkina Faso
Fabien Tondel, Carmen Torres, Sayouba Ouédraogo, Didier Zoungrana, Boureima Sawadogo et Somlanare Romuald Kinda, juillet 2017

Policy coherence and the 2030 Agenda: Building on the PCD experience
James Mackie, Martin Ronceray and Eunike Spierings, ECDPM paper, March 2017

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater: Why Policy Coherence for Development still has a role to play
Martin Ronceray, ECDPM blog, November 2016

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the European Union: Constructing an EU approach to Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development
Cecilia Gregersen, James Mackie and Carmen Torres, ECDPM paper, July 2016

Assessing policy coherence for development: A pilot study on the impacts of OECD countries’ policies on food security in Tanzania
Fabien Tondel, Didier Yélognissè Alia, Solomon Baregu, Festo Maro and Abel Songole, ECDPM and ESRF paper, November 2015

Use of PCD indicators by a selection of EU Member States
Jeske van Seters, Greta Galeazzi, Damien Helly, Anna Knoll, Brecht Lein, Anna Rosengren and Andrew Sherriff, ECDPM paper, January 2015

Bringing policy coherence for development into the post-2015 agenda – Challenges and prospects
Anna Knoll, ECDPM paper, June 2014

Putting Policy Coherence for Development into perspective: Supporting Switzerland’s promotion of PCD in commodities, migration and tax policy
Anna Knoll, Florian Krätke, Niels Keijzer and Jorrit Oppewal, ECDPM paper, November 2013

EU policy coherence for food security: Aligning parallel agendas
Paul Engel, Brecht Lein, Bas van Helden and Jeske Seters, ECDPM paper, October 2013

Insights from development in national policy coherence for development systems: Key cross cutting issues and dilemmas
Greta Galeazzi, Anna Knoll, Florian Krätke, Brecht Lein, Anna Rosengren and Andrew Sherriff, ECDPM paper, April 2013

Measuring Policy Coherence for Development: Final report
ECDPM, ICEI and Particip, Study commissioned by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, May 2012

EU Policy Coherence for Development: from moving the goalposts to result-based management?
Niels Keijzer, ECDPM paper, August 2010

Evaluation of the EU institutions and Member States’ mechanisms for promoting policy coherence for development
ECDPM, ICEI, Particip, July 2007