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The Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) Development Progress initiative shares lessons learned on SDGs implementation from an analysis of 50 case studies across Africa, Asia and Latin America where progress was faster than expected.

The findings highlight the importance of strong political commitment and leadership, clear priorities, local ownership, and mobilization and improved management of funds.

12 May 2017: The Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) Development Progress initiative shared lessons learned on implementing the SDGs, based on an analysis of 50 cases in Africa, Asia and Latin America where progress occurred faster than expected. Highlighting key findings, Kate Bird of ODI emphasizes the importance of shared national vision and political leadership for the SDGs, stressing that progress can be made in the “most unlikely of places” and on the “toughest of issues.” However, the associated report shows, the most impoverished, marginalized and vulnerable groups continue to be left behind.

In a blog post on Deliver2030, Bird emphasizes six key findings. First, progress is fastest when there is strong political commitment and leadership, and clear priorities are linked to a national development vision, particularly when such a vision emerges from consensus endorsed by citizens. Second, local ownership can support accountability and innovation, such as when decentralized decision-making tailors services to local needs, which can also improve accountability and enhance progress. Third, the findings illustrate ways that countries have mobilized funds from a range of sources, including better management of national budgets (South Africa), economic growth (Viet Nam), exports (Mauritius) and international support (Rwanda). In all cases, it is emphasized, strong institutions are needed to ensure proper management of financing, in line with priorities.

Progress is fastest when there is strong political commitment and leadership, according to 50 cases around the world.

Other findings highlight factors that have impeded progress, such as the absence of a long-term vision for development, policy reversals or budgeting failures. Similarly, progress that does not promote socio-economic transformation can widen existing inequality, cause tension and leave the poorest and most vulnerable behind, according to Bird, who cautions that reversal of progress is possible, particularly when limited structural change occurs. Finally, the article emphasizes the role of external factors and shocks, such as changes in donor priorities or funding behavior, climate change and changes in projected economic growth.

The findings are also described in an ODI report titled, ’10 Things to Know About Progress In International Development,’ which highlights ten countries that have achieved “impressive progress”: Viet Nam on poverty reduction; Nepal on maternal health; Kenya on beyond basic education; Peru on urban poverty; Burkina Faso on agriculture and climate change; Tunisia on women’s political voice; Timor-Leste security and personal safety; Sri Lanka on employment; Ecuador on inequality; and Ethiopia on multi-dimensional progress. The report highlights common drivers for lasting progress among the case studies, related to: political leadership; effective policies; capable institutions; public finance; donor partnerships; and collective action. The report also points out that in every case study, progress has left behind the most impoverished, marginalized and vulnerable groups.

ODI’s Development Progress initiative aims to measure, understand and communicate where and how development progress has happened. [Deliver 2030 Article] [Development Progress Website] [10 Things to Know About Progress in International Development]

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