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Universality, integration, and policy coherence for sustainable development: Early SDG implementation in selected OECD countries

August 2016

O'Connor, D., Mackie, J. (et al.). 2016. Universality, integration, and policy coherence for sustainable development: Early SDG implementation in selected OECD countries. (WRI Working Paper). Washington: World Resources Institute.

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This paper synthesizes a number of case studies – one of these was conducted by ECDPM (Discussion Paper 197) – on early experience with implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It focuses on OECD countries and how they are applying the principles of universality – an agenda for all countries and all stakeholders – and integration – the sustainable development goals and targets are interdependent and implementation strategies must be holistic and policies coherent across the agenda. The countries reviewed – still at an early stage of implementation – all recognize the importance of these principles, though they reflect them differently at national level. One challenge has been to ensure that the SDGs become a ‘whole-of-government’ program, not one confined to one or two ministries. There is a clear recognition that the agenda calls not just for enhanced international cooperation but for review and possibly realignment of domestic policies, whether to reduce inequalities of income and opportunity, to improve access for all to health care, or to promote more sustainable consumption and production patterns. All countries studied have reached out to civil society and the private sector to consult them, even when the 2030 Agenda was still being negotiated for adoption by Heads of State and Government. Sustaining their engagement, both In concrete actions to advance the SDGs and in review and reporting of progress, will be essential to success.


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European external affairsPolicy Coherence for DevelopmentPost-2015 Global Development AgendaContributing DocumentPost 2015Sustainable Development Goals

External authors

David O'Connor

Daphne van Esveld

Hoseok Kim

Imme Scholz

Nina Weitz