World Public Sector Report 2018 Highlights Institutional Arrangements for SDG Integration
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The UN Division for Public Administration and Development Management in DESA released the 2018 edition of the World Public Sector Report, reviewing countries’ public sector institutional arrangements to promote policy integration for SDG implementation at the national, sub-national and local levels.

Titled ‘Working together: Integration, institutions and the Sustainable Development Goals,’ the report analyzes institutional frameworks and administrative practices based on horizontal and vertical integration, and stakeholders engagement.

The report also illustrates the importance of integrated approaches in three cross-cutting areas: migration, health and well-being, and post-conflict situations.

5 April 2018: The Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has released the 2018 edition of the World Public Sector Report (WPSR). The report examines country efforts to foster policy integration for the SDGs, provides examples of ways by which interlinkages between the SDGs can be addressed from an institutional perspective, and highlights integration challenges and opportunities for public institutions and public administration.

Titled ‘Working Together: Integration, Institutions and the Sustainable Development Goals,’ the report reviews countries’ public sector institutional arrangements to promote policy integration for SDG implementation at the national, sub-national and local levels. It analyzes institutional frameworks and administrative practices based on three dimensions of integration, namely horizontal integration (across sectors or institutions), vertical integration (alignment of actions between national and sub-national levels of government), and engagement of all stakeholders in the realization of shared objectives. The first part of the report examines these dimensions in depth, while the second part illustrates the importance of integrated approaches in three cross-cutting areas: migrations, health and well-being, and post-conflict situations. The report was released on 5 April 2018.

On horizontal integration, the report states that out of the 60 countries examined, 32 have institutional arrangements for SDG implementation that span across sectors. It notes that many countries have mapped the SDGs against their national development strategies, and that a significant number of them, especially developing countries, have explicitly aligned their development strategies with the SDGs. It also indicates that few countries seem to be systematically mobilizing public servants around the SDGs, although public administration ministries are sometimes part of inter-ministerial committees.

The report stresses the importance of budgets to track support to specific targets and to incentivize the alignment and integration of programs with the SDGs. In this regard, it notes that in Mexico, the SDGs have been embedded in budget process, and the link between the SDGs and budgetary programs has been formally recognized in the country’s Executive’s Budget proposal for 2018. The authors also outline the key role of parliaments and Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) in facilitating integration through their oversight and budgetary functions, and find that monitoring and evaluation frameworks tend to target single policies or programs in a particular sector, instead of assessing overall progress towards interrelated goals and targets.

On vertical integration, an increasing number of initiatives are being promoted by national and subnational governments to foster integration across levels of government to implement the SDGs, the report says. However, there are still few examples of “full and effective” vertical integration across national, subnational and local levels for SDG implementation.

According to the report, leadership for vertical integration has taken many forms, including: outreach campaigns intended to local governments; actions by local governments to signal their commitment to the SDGs; and joint events and adoption of agreements across levels of governments for SDG implementation, as observed in Argentina. The report notes that some countries have used legal and regulatory instruments to advance SDG implementation at the sub-national level, such as a Presidential regulation in Indonesia by which provincial governments need to lead SDG implementation at their level and in the districts under their supervision. It also indicates that vertical integration at the planning stage is widespread, but seems less frequent at the implementation stage, and is not common at the level of monitoring, evaluation, follow-up and review.

On stakeholder engagement, the report finds “great institutional variation” in terms of engagement mechanisms being used: they operate at various levels of government, are led by governments or by non-state actors, and some have decision-making powers, whereas others are advisory bodies. The report indicates that several countries have put forward SDG multi-stakeholder partnerships or frameworks, such as the Netherlands’ broad coalition of over 75 different stakeholders referred to as the ‘Global Goals Charter NL.’ The authors note that “more engagement” does not automatically result in more integration, since strengthened engagement in sectoral mechanisms can reinforce existing silos and entrench fragmentation. However, the identification of interdependencies among SDGs and their targets can be a first step in identifying the set of stakeholders that can support integrated policies in relation to specific issues, the report suggests.

On migration, the report shows a broad variety of institutional settings in national institutions, including, for example, a multi-agency approach in Brazil and the Philippines, or stand-alone ministries for migration in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Morocco and the UK. It finds that local governments, particularly cities, have played an increasing role in linking migration issues, public services and sustainable development, but there are differences in terms of how these local governments are addressing migration. It also notes that non-governmental actors are active in many areas relevant to migration and development, although in many cases their role could benefit from further integration at the local level.

On health, the report states that some governments worldwide have put in place institutional and administrative initiatives that address specific linkages between health and other SDGs. Based on an analysis of initiatives submitted each year by governments for the UN Public Service Awards (UNPSA), the report shows that governments have for a long time been establishing institutional and administrative arrangements to address the linkages between health and other sectoral goals, including on food and nutrition (SDG 2), inequality (SDG 10), education (SDG 4), gender equality (SDG 5) and cities (SDG 11). The study also notes the existence of “many examples” of practical approaches to policy integration for health, including the Health in All Policies approach adopted in countries such as Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Finland, Iran, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand and the UK.

On post-conflict settings, the report observes that developing integrated policies that build on the synergies among the SDGs can be daunting, since such countries have to simultaneously secure quick gains, restore basic functions of the State, and progress toward sustainable development. However, some countries that have suffered from conflict, including Chad, Colombia, Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands and Somalia, have explicitly linked national plans and strategies high-level objectives with the SDGs, it says. The report outlines the importance of building coalitions, explaining that collaborative work between the State and community leaders may help prevent further violence. It also calls on engaging “all social groups” in post-conflict governance to shape a common vision for the country.

The report was produced using mixed methods that combined literature review and expert contributions, including through an open calls for inputs. It drew on two expert group meetings (EGMs), for the chapters on migration and post-conflict situations, and considered contributions from over 80 experts and approximately ten organizations. It also relied on an “extensive peer review process,” both by UN and non-UN experts.

Other editions of the WPSR were issued in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2015. [Publication: Working Together: Integration, Institutions and the Sustainable Development Goals: World Public Sector Report 2018] [DPADM Website] [EGM on Integrated Approaches to International Migrations] [EGM on Integrating Sustainable Development and Peace in Post-conflict Situations]

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