CEPA 16 Reports Highlight Public Institution Principles for SDG Implementation
Photo by IISD/ENB | Pamela Chasek
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In preparation for the 16th session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, the UN has issued reports on supporting and equipping local authorities and communities for the implementation of the SDGs, institutional leadership and arrangements for the SDGs, and implications for public institutions of strategies for integrated action to achieve poverty eradication.

The UN Secretariat proposed concepts to be considered by CEPA 16 for the development of principles of responsible and effective governance.

February 2017: In advance of the 16th session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA), the UN has issued several reports related to the theme it will consider, ‘Ensuring effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): leadership, action and means.’ CEPA 16 will take place from 24-28 April 2017, in New York, US.

CEPA provides policy advice and programmatic guidance to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on issues related to governance and public administration. It is composed of 24 members who meet annually in New York. During its 16th session, CEPA will discuss: supporting and equipping local authorities and communities for the implementation of the SDGs; institutional leadership and arrangements for the SDGs; principles of effective governance; and implications for public institutions of strategies for integrated action to achieve poverty eradication. The Committee will also consider its contribution to the 2017 thematic review of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and specific SDGs under review: SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (Zero hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 5 (Gender equality), SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 14 (Life below water).

A report on ‘Understanding the needs of local authorities and communities and supporting and equipping them for the implementation of the SDG’ (E/C.16/2017/3), authored by CEPA member Najat Zarrouk (Morocco) in collaboration with Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, notes that the role of local authorities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is critical, but local authorities face a multitude of obstacles, challenges and constraints. These include: intergovernmental relations arising from differences in historical context; the recognition and understanding of the value of decentralization processes; administrative structures and arrangements for the distribution of powers; representation and participation; and resource-sharing. The authors call for measures such as: supporting the localization of the SDGs; clearly defining roles and responsibilities; providing local authorities with adequate access to resources and strengthening their administrative capacity; and promoting the coherence of initiatives in support of the implementation of the SDGs at the local level.

In a report on ‘Institutional leadership and the SDGs’ (E/C.16/2017/4), CEPA member José R. Castelazo (Mexico) observes that the SDGs represent significant progress in the world order: rather than being founded on military or economic strength, they are based on cooperation, solidarity and the pursuit of development, in order to improve the lives of all people and ensure the viability of preserving the planet. Castelazo notes that the need for a cross-cutting approach derives from the interdependence of the SDGs, and from the need for broad participation. Implementing the SDGs, he says, requires: agreement and coordination at the international, regional, national and local levels; the implementation of joint actions between societies and their governments and monitoring of their progress and effects; institution-building; and openness to participation by new actors in the design and implementation of SDGs related public policies.

When one level of government becomes institutionally stronger and more competent, pressure builds for other levels of government to follow suit.

The report on ‘Successfully achieving the SDGs: what is to be done?’ (E/C.16/2017/2) examines the efforts of four countries (Germany, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa) to implement the SDGs. The authors, Allan Rosenbaum, CEPA member (USA), and Vaiva Kalesnikaite, Florida International University, note that measures designed while implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) should aid in the implementation of the SDGs. The authors add that for many countries, it took two thirds of the 15-year MDG implementation period to align national development goals with the MDGs. In implementing the SDGs, authorities will be able to rely heavily upon the institutional architecture created to achieve the MDGs. The report highlights the value of: an adequate and dependable revenue base; strong management capacity and information systems; and a strong partnership between local and central governments, adding that when one level of government becomes institutionally stronger and more competent, pressure builds for other levels of government to follow suit.

The report on ‘Institutional arrangements for the SDGs’ (E/C.16/2017/5), authored by CEPA members Jan Ziekow (Germany) and Rowena Bethel (Bahamas), identifies horizontal policy integration as the best approach to coherence for the SDGs, in the context of central government institutions. The authors highlight mechanisms to overcome fragmentation of work and siloed approaches, such as: the establishment of a management committee at the level of the executive head of the Government consisting of high-ranking individuals who are responsible for the development of cross-sectoral policies; cross-organizational working groups to develop concrete programmes or measures for implementation; the implementation of an e-government infrastructure that supports policy coherence, integration and coordination across the public administration; and budgetary inducements including incentives for cross-sectoral policymaking. They suggest policy integration within parliaments through joint meetings of parliamentary committees, the establishment of a special parliamentary committee that ensures integrated approaches, and mainstreaming the SDGs in budgetary decision-making. The authors also call for: vertical coordination arrangements to allow for policy integration among national, regional and local governments, and multi-stakeholder approaches.

The report on ‘Poverty eradication through regional development: the case of Brazil’ (E/C.16/2017/7) describes Brazil as a country of contrasts with, on one hand, a very small number of wealthy producers who own vast areas of land under highly mechanized cultivation, and on the other hand, millions of small farmers who live in conditions of extreme poverty, mostly in the North-east (semi-arid) region. Author Alexandre Navarro Garcia (Brazil) proposes concrete actions to address poverty and move towards the achievement of SDG 1 for Brazil. Navarro Garcia suggests to: create a national fund for the development of the country’s five regions, with 50% of its resources allocated to less developed areas; ease limits on budgetary commitments and financial assistance to the regions; and administer the regional development policy through the institutionalization of a national system of regional development. The author concludes that countries seeking to eliminate poverty should cosider a national plan for regional development and other public policy instruments to enhance and diversify economic activity in disadvantaged areas.

At its 15th session in 2016, CEPA decided to draft a set of principles of responsible and effective governance. This was intended to inform the study of specific issues related to the SDG and the priorities of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to serve as a normative baseline for future policy and practice, and possibly to inform a global research agenda for public administration and development. The resulting report, titled ‘Towards a set of internationally recognized principles of responsible and effective governance’ (E/C.16/2017/6), prepared by the UN Secretariat in collaboration with CEPA members, identifies a set of ten major concepts that might be considered “nascent versions” of the principles within the framework of the main governance strands of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These ten concepts are: elements of effectiveness (comprising principles of competence, sound public policy and cooperation); elements of accountability (comprising principles of integrity, transparency and independent oversight); and elements of inclusiveness (comprising principles of non-discrimination, participation, subsidiarity and intergenerational equity).

The Committee is expected to consider possible core elements of the principles at its 16th session, and propose a way forward. 
[CEPA 16 Website] [CEPA 16 Provisional Annotated Agenda] [Understanding the needs of local authorities and communities] [Institutional leadership and the SDGs] [Successfully achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: what is to be done?] [Institutional arrangements for the SDGs] [Poverty eradication through regional development: the case of Brazil] [Towards a set of internationally recognized principles of responsible and effective governance] [CEPA members]


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