Subnational governments and the 2030 Agenda
Strengthening policy effectiveness and legitimacy with the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals
Francisco Javier Granados and Andrea Noferini Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI, Barcelona) December 2019
Commissioned by the Generalitat de Catalunya, through its Agency for Development Cooperation, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and conducted by the researchers, F. J. Granados (IBEI) and A. Noferini (UPF and UAB), from the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI). Copyright © Generalitat de Catalunya, UNDP 2019 All rights reserved Published in Spain The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations, UNDP nor IBEI. Please note that quotations or excerpts from the study may be reproduced on condition that the source is indicated. Correspondence to: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org 1
1. Introduction ......................................................................................................................... 3 2. Subnational governments and the 2030 Agenda .................................................................. 6 2.1. Subnational governments and the policy-making of the 2030 Agenda......................... 6 2.2. The localization of the SDGs ......................................................................................... 8 2.3. Defining Subnational Governments ............................................................................ 10 2.4. Governance(s) for sustainable development: implications for the localization .......... 12 2.5. Localizing the SDGs: challenges and opportunities ..................................................... 18 3. Analytical framework ......................................................................................................... 21 3.1. Policy support in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda ........................................ 21 3.2. The policy-cycle approach .......................................................................................... 26 3.3. Key policy aspects in the localization of the SDGs ...................................................... 30 3.3.1. Institutional coordination ........................................................................................ 31 3.3.2. Stakeholder participation ........................................................................................ 41 3.3.3. Monitoring and accountability ................................................................................ 50 4. Analysis of legitimacy and effectiveness along the policy-cycle ......................................... 61 4.1. Institutional coordination in the policy-cycle ............................................................. 61 4.2. Stakeholder participation in the policy-cycle.............................................................. 68 4.3. Monitoring in the policy-cycle .................................................................................... 72 5. Conclusion .......................................................................................................................... 81 6. References .......................................................................................................................... 84
1. Introduction The 2030 Agenda aspires to be transformational in regards to policymaking and policy outcomes. The implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) invokes the definition of multi-level, multi-sector and multi-actor policies to attain human, sustainable and inclusive development. Relying upon a set of internationally shared principles and values, the SDGs provide inspiring policy guidelines to governments and societies. Their appeal for the coordination of government levels, the integration of policy domains, multi-stakeholder participation and policy monitoring presents relevant challenges and opportunities to policymakers, citizens and civil society. Unlike past global governance efforts that largely relied on top-down approaches, the 2030 Agenda relies on “governance through goals”, an approach defined by weak institutional arrangements and the lack of legal binding commitments. Although innovative, this paradigm implies higher risks of low implementation and policy failure, if governments and stakeholders lack clear and effective incentives. Indeed, when sanctions and penalties are not feasible, the enforcement of authoritative decisions is usually weak. Therefore, a major obstacle to implement the 2030 Agenda consists in ensuring constant long-term policy support. The concern about gaining policy support to succeed in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the country level justifies the analytical perspective of the present report. The report claims that maintaining persistent support to the long-term implementation of the 2030 Agenda can be better achieved when SDG policies are determined according to the preferences of stakeholders; when political authorities are kept accountable to citizens; and when policies are sensitive to the demands, needs and contextual social, economic and political characteristics of the territory. Combining in an original format time concepts and instruments stemming from the literature on public policies and political theory, this reports analyses how the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the subnational level can strengthen policy effectiveness and legitimacy, consequently, strengthening the policy support to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The argument is twofold. Firstly, in the aspirational framework of the 2030 Agenda the perceived legitimacy and the effectiveness of policies associated to the SDGs become crucially relevant. Secondly, the localization of the SDGs —meant as the involvement of SNGs in their implementation— can improve both legitimacy and effectiveness at the territorial level, strengthening actors’ support and commitment along the implementation process of the 2030 Agenda.
Assuming a policy-cycle analytical approach, localizing the SDGs implies that international organizations and, particularly, national governments would foster and capitalize on the involvement of SNGs and local stakeholders to better design, implement, monitor and assess accountability of policies created to attain the SDGs. Localizing the SDGs also involves the policy endeavour of delivering development policies which impact is of most relevance to the targeted communities. A main goal of this report consists in presenting an analytical framework that facilitates the assessment of how the localization of the SDGs can strengthen the effectiveness and legitimacy of policies created to attain them, fostering, in turn, policy support to implement the 2030 Agenda. This analytical framework focuses on three main policy and governance aspects: institutional coordination, stakeholder participation and monitoring. They are central issues in the 2030 Agenda and are associated to the localization of the SDGs. Institutional coordination refers to the mechanisms to pull and organize policy resources and political will from different government levels, administrations and the political actors associated to these. Stakeholder participation refers to the definition of inclusive, plural and open mechanisms of preference negotiation and resource contribution in the localization of SDGs. Finally, the monitoring of policy processes and outcomes help to keep accountable the policy actors that participate in the implementation of the SDGs in regards to their compromise and success to attain them. Structuring the framework in reference to the four stages of the policy-cycle (agenda setting, decision making, implementation and evaluation) allows for nuanced arguments that enhance its usefulness for policy analysis. Its division into observable components makes the policy-cycle approach particularly practical, allowing for a systematic analysis of possible gaps and problems concerning the effectiveness and legitimacy of a policy. The policy-cycle approach is also useful because it allows a clear differentiation of the roles of different actors along its different stages. In this regard, the sources of policy legitimacy can vary from stage to stage of the policy-cycle. Accordingly, actors’ policy support would be driven by different forms of legitimacy: “input” legitimacy during the initial decision-making stage, “throughput” during the implementation, and “output” in the stage of evaluation of the policy results. The elaboration of the report combined multifaceted sources and methodologies. To conceptualize aspects referred to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and learn about SNGs implementing the SDGs, the authors consulted official documents and reports published by the UN system and other main international institutions involved in the 2030 Agenda. The analytical framework presented in the report relies upon main contributions from the literature on public policy analysis and governance, with particular emphasis on studies focused on the subnational level. The authors also obtained argumentative information on the topics considered in the report 4
interviewing policy experts and practitioner policymakers with experience in the localization of the SDGs. Some preliminary results of the study were validated in a seminar held in January 2019 in Barcelona with over 20 participants with various professional profiles (e.g., strategic policy planning, local economic development, social policy, international relations, regional and local government associations, academics). Section 2 of this document presents a set of concepts referred to the wide debate on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and global governance. It has to be considered as a preliminary approach to the central subject of the report that clarifies and critically illustrates concepts about the participation of SNGs in the international realm, governance, and current policy experiences localizing the SDGs. Section 3 presents the analytical framework proposed to examine how the involvement of SNGs in the implementation of the SDGs can strengthen policy effectiveness and policy legitimacy, thus, conferring higher policy support to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This section reviews relevant literature on policy effectiveness and legitimacy and presents key arguments and topics about the policy areas of institutional coordination, stakeholder participation and monitoring and accountability referred to the localization of the 2030 Agenda. Section 4 develops the proposed analytical framework specifying how the localization of those policy areas can contribute to foster policy effectiveness and legitimacy along the four stages of the policy-cycle. Section 5 presents the conclusions of the study.
2. Subnational governments and the 2030 Agenda 2.1. Subnational governments and the policy-making of the 2030 Agenda In September 2015, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) after an unprecedented negotiation and consultation process that brought together national governments, subnational governments (SNGs) and civil societies organizations (CSOs) from all across the globe. 1 The SDGs replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by basically merging the agendas of development and environment. The new goals are designed to be more comprehensive in policy scope and attain higher policy impacts. Notably, the UN employed considerable efforts to widen the participation in the definition of the SDGs, launching thematic and national consultations, holding global high-level meetings and inviting stakeholders to submit proposals and observations to the goals.2 National governments have formally committed to support multi-level, multi-sector and multiactor governance systems to implement the SDGs at the domestic and international level. The SDGs want to overcome some main criticisms made to the MDGs framework, accused of limited success and being, fundamentally, a top-down and elite-driven process (Fehling et al., 2013; Fukuda-Parr et al., 2013). Weak accountability, lack of policy ownership, fragile political commitment and inconsistent policy support were considered main reasons for the weak implementation and policy failure of the MDGs. The universal character and more inclusive process that shaped the definition of the 2030 Agenda allows overcoming some of these shortcomings. Increasing the global legitimacy of the SDGs, the hope is that they will perform better than the MDGs. Stakeholders and public administrations that can introduce ‘their’ goals in the 2030 Agenda are likely to increase their support, motivation and commitment to its implementation (Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen et al., 2018). More participatory, inclusive and accountable processes in the definition and implementation of the SDGs are expected
This report provides a detailed definition of subnational governments in paragraph 2.3. However, the vocabulary is often contested, and the literature and official documents present different terms, such as regional and local authorities (RLAs) or governments (RLGs). The distinction between sub-state and subnational is also contested. Belgium, for instance, is a federal state with a very particular institutional framework, where the federal level and the federated entities are on an equal standing, being inappropriate to refer to the Belgian regions and communities as “subnational levels” of government. In the Belgian case, for example, “National” levels of government include the federal government, regions and communities and the “Subnational” levels include provinces and municipalities (’communes’)”. 2 The document “Transforming our World” is indeed based on a broad global consultation process within the UN General Assembly during the period 2014-2015. For a review of the entire process, see Stevens and Kanie, 2016. 1
to increase policy effectiveness and policy legitimacy of the policies required for their implementation. Today, SNGs are formally included in the UN policy-making related to the SDGs, usually participating under the same modality as the non-governmental organizations (NGOs). For example, at the High-Level Political Forum, SNGs are recognized as one of the “Major Groups and other Stakeholders” participants —the Local Authorities Major Group (LAMG), which granted SNGs several benefits over a “normal” observer status, such as the right to make written or oral contributions to official meetings. Nevertheless, SNGs have objected to being grouped together with NGOs, because they are governmental actors with certain legal and fiscal mandates and prescribed responsibilities toward their citizens. Unlike other major groups or constituencies that defend particular interests, SNGs advocate for the interests of all citizens in their jurisdiction considering the representation of these interests in democratically legitimated governments. Regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, it is usually claimed that SNGs are key actors to its achievement because they are directly involved in many SDG policy sectors (particularly SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17) such as local public services, local economic development, education, culture and environment. 3 As research shows, for example, the implementation of 65% of SDG targets is at risk if local urban stakeholders are not involved (Misselwitz et al. 2016). SNGs are also relevant public investors. For example, SNGs expenditure accounted in 2013 for 24% of public spending in 95 countries (OECD, 2017). Therefore, there are consistent policy effectiveness reasons to involve them in the implementation of the SDGs. Since the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, SNGs have gained momentum, experience and readiness on how to translate international and multilateral agendas into practice at territorial level. More than 6000 Local Agenda 21 initiatives in 113 countries have demonstrated that committed SNGs can raise awareness, advocate and practically implement the Agenda 21 in their communities (Global Task Force, 2016). From a theory perspective, the participation of SNGs in global governance agreements and in the international policy-making is today a recognized phenomenon that has attracted different streams of literatures, also outside the realm of sustainability and development policies. Political science, in particular, comparative politics and international relations tend to be the dominant fields, especially regarding the
The breakdown of SNG expenditure by economic functions indicates the proximity between the responsibilities assigned to SNGs and the localization of the SDGs. Education, one of the main areas of human development, represents nearly 22% of SNGs total spending. Economic affairs and transportation (13,8%), social protection (12,5 %), health (9,4%) accounts jointly for more than 40% of SNGs total spending (OECD, 2016a).
international role of regions and cities. 4 Within the EU integration studies and the literature on local economic development —included the studies on EU Cohesion Policy, Europeanization and Multilevel Governance—scholars have paid attention to the role of SNGs, not as mere executors of policies designed elsewhere but also as providers of higher policy legitimacy and promoters of policy innovation at the territorial level.5 Research questions have focused on different issues such as the causes, the role, the salience and the effectiveness of the increasing participation of SNGs in the international scenario. In the era of globalization —in which decisions are, in some cases, taken far away from territories and from voters— many authors have attached a particular relevance to the fact that SNGs might defend and promote their territorial interests abroad. In multilevel and supranational polities —as the European Union, for example—6 the presence and participation of cities and regions in the EU policy making is an already uncontested phenomenon.
2.2. The localization of the SDGs In the context of the 2030 Agenda, localization is the process of defining, implementing and monitoring strategies at the subnational level to achieve the SDGs both locally and globally.7 Notably, localizing the SDGs not only refers to implementing the targets at regional and local level. It is also about political will, co-creation of effective public policies with communities and finding solutions at the territorial level for the global challenges.8 Therefore, localizing is an ongoing and reflexive political and policy process connected to the universal principles that pervade the 2030 Agenda, For a review of the role of subnational governments in international arenas, see, Dittmer and Mc Connell, 2015; Dudachacek,1986, 1990; Michelmann and Soldatos, 1990; Keating, 1988, 1997,; Grasa and Sanchez Cano, 2013; Aldecoa and Keating, 2013; Graute, 2016; Lequesna and Pasquin, 2017. 5 For a review of the role of subnational governments in the EU, see Jeffery, 2007; Tatham, 2008, 2010 and 2015; Keating, Hooghe and Tatham, 2006. 6 See for example the recent document, Reflecting on the future of the European Union The view from local and regional authorities, published in 2018 by the Committee of the Regions (available here, https://cor.europa.eu/en/engage/studies/Documents/Future-EU.pdf 7 Localization seems to be still a contested concept. An exhaustive clarification of the concept is outside the goal of the present report. These are some of the definitions available in the applied literature or that are used by international organizations. The European Parliament uses the term ‘localization’ as a key facet of multi-level governance, meaning the process of defining, bringing about and overseeing local strategies to achieve the SDGs at local, national and global levels (Available here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2017/607258/EPRS_IDA(2017)607258_EN.pdf) The OECD (2018) links localization to the territorial dimension of the SDGs referring to how to transform, adapt, and convey the general SDGs framework (with its aspirational character) to the preferences of local constituencies and to the policy capabilities of the public administrations and other stakeholders involved (Available here: http://www.oecd.org/cfe/territorial-approach-sdgs.htm 8 Statement adopted by the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments at the Local and Regional Authorities Forum, in the HLPF of June 2018 4
such as the right-based approach for shared development strategies, the ‘Right to the City’ principles acknowledged in Habitat III and the premise of “leaving no-one behind”. For the purposes of the present report, localizing the SDG means “taking into account sub-national contexts in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, from the setting of goals and targets, to determining the means of implementation and using indicators to measure and monitor progress”. 9 Localization relates both to how SNGs can support the achievement of the SDGs through bottom up action and how these provide a framework for local development policy. Basically, localization deals with governance as it requires institutional coordination among levels of government, effective stakeholder involvement and accurate monitoring for accountability. After three years from the starting of the 2030 Agenda, SNGs dispose of several guidelines, toolbox, roadmaps and agreed practices aimed at facilitating the localization of the SDGs. For example, the UNDP provides the Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA) tool meant to support countries in mainstreaming the SDGs into national and subnational planning, helping them to assess their readiness for SDG implementation (UNDP, 2017). 10 The tool suggests clear steps and templates for policymakers to determine the relevance of the SDGs to the country context, both at the national and subnational level, as well as possible interlinkages across targets. Another interesting practical approach for the localization of the SDGs comes from the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments. It provides a roadmap that includes a set of practical, adaptable mechanisms and instruments to address various development challenges.11 The roadmap aims to support local and regional
See UN Development Group (2014); see GTF, UNDP, UN-Habitat (2016), Roadmap for Localizing the SDGs: Implementation and Monitoring at Sub-National Level 10 The RIA is applied in four stages. Step 1 offers guidance on analyzing the relevance of the SDGs for the country, including determining the national and subnational development priorities, and mapping SDG targets aligned to the development and sectoral plans. Step 2 provides options for applying an integrated approach to achieve sustainable development. This includes determining the focus of SDG targets vis-à-vis the sustainable development dimensions (social, economic and environment) and across the 5Ps (people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership) – to ascertain a balance across aligned targets and to identify the interlinkages across targets. Step 3 discusses ways to assess existing monitoring capacity and provides a checklist for conducting a needs assessment. The need for crosscutting indicators to reduce the monitoring burden at the country level is also discussed. Step 4 consolidates the primary output of the RIA. This entails developing a national and/or subnational SDG profile that identifies development challenges, gaps in alignment with the national/subnational plans, corresponding indicators and a quick snapshot of potential interlinkages. More information are available here: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/sustainable-development-goals/rapidintegrated-assessment---mainstreaming-sdgs-into-national-a.html 11 The roadmap co-led by the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, UN-Habitat and UNDP builds on the consultation on localizing the post-2015 development agenda in the summer of 2014. During the consultation, national dialogues were carried out in 13 countries, and three global and six regional-level events were held, with more than 5000 participants from over 80 countries, representing national and local institutions, local and regional authorities, civil society organizations, 9
governments and their associations in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs and to influence national policy-making with a view to create an enabling environment for action at local and regional level. Taking into account the heterogeneity of SNGs across the world, the roadmap is a flexible tool that can be employed in diverse and complex settings, where political, institutional, economic and social characteristics differ â€”not only between countries, but between territories of the same country, or even within parts of a specific territory. SNGs dispose of different degrees of autonomy, distinctive resources as well as differentiated understandings regarding how to adapt the targets to their territorial contexts. Therefore, although the principles of localization should be clear and shared, their application undoubtedly needs to be locally sensitive.
2.3. Defining Subnational Governments Citizens are today encompassed in multiple jurisdictions operating at diverse territorial scales from the local to the global. The number of such levels for most people living today is between three and six. The OECD accounts for a total of 522.629 SNGs, including more than 250.000 units for India alone (OECD, 2017). Below the central level, subnational governments (SNGs) are defined as decentralized public authorities that own responsibilities and some degree of autonomy in the provision of public goods to the population of a particular territory. 1.700 of those SNGs are defined as regions or federated units (state levels in federal arrangements). 12 According to the Regional Authority Index (RAI) and its latest modifications (Gary, Hooghe and Schakel, 2001; 2017), a region can be considered a level of government if: a) It refers to a given territory having a single, continuous, and non-intersecting boundary. b) It is intermediate between local and national governments. c) It owns a set of legislative and executive powers responsible for authoritative decision making 13
academia and the private sector. More information here: https://www.uclg.org/sites/default/files/roadmap_for_localizing_the_sdgs_0.pdf 12 Actually, no common definition of what a region is does exist in the literature. The IMF, for statistical purposes applied to SNGs finance, defines a region as â€œthe largest geographical area into which the country as a whole may be divided for political or administrative purposesâ€? (IMF, 2013). The study however admits that these areas may be described by other terms, such as provinces, cantons, prefectures, or regions. From a more practical perspective, the Nrg4SD Network defines "regional governments" as the largest and first level of political subdivision within an individual state represented at the United Nation but which is above de municipal level. 13 In practice, the distinctive line is traced among deconcentrated sub national entities from devolved sub national governments, enjoying the former a considerable higher degree of autonomy with respect to the latter.
d) And the geographical area has a considerable population (greater than around 150,000 persons14). If sufficiently endowed, regional governments can play a relevant role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. However, in order to fully exploit the potential — and to also face the challenges— of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, SNGs must firstly acknowledge what policies can effectively support and what policies fall outside the domains of their competencies and capabilities. In some countries, for example, the regional public sector at the territorial level is typically formed by “deconcentrated” subnational line departments (e.g., the “administrations déconcentrées”) with very low autonomy. Conversely, in the US, Canada, Germany, Belgium and many federal and regionalized states (Spain, for example) a regional government is usually headed by an elected executive and it owns an assembly with legislative powers and a set of formal institutions with their own budget15. A way to understand the policy and political space of manoeuvre of a SNG consist in considering its degree of autonomy. Autonomy usually measures the control of a public authority over a policy area. In the context of self-government units, autonomy can be understood as the degree to which each SNG is able to take binding decisions on public policy unconstrained by the central government or other SNGs Focusing on autonomy —rather than on levels of sub national expenditure— captures more accurately the level of decentralization within a state.16 Autonomy is multidimensional, it refers to political, administrative and fiscal autonomy (Hooghe et al. 2001; ). Political autonomy indicates the presence of some proper institutions conducive to the formulation of own policy preferences. Administrative/regulatory autonomy implies legal competence to enact binding policy decisions on these preferences. Fiscal autonomy refers to the funding options available to the SNG. According to these three dimensions, SNGs can be classified within eight different types (based on Boex and Yilmaz 2010, and Eaton and Schroeder 2010) 17 ranging from fully autonomous SNGs (politically, administratively and fiscally empowered) to SNGs 150.000 is the threshold between regional and local government in the nomenclature d'unités territoriales statistiques (NUTS), which is a geocode standard for referencing the administrative divisions of countries for statistical purposes. 15 There seem to be a positive (although not linear) association between the level of decentralized public spending – as a share of GDP – and the development level of countries –as GDP per capita. The richer is a country, the higher is the level of decentralized public spending. Nevertheless, correlation does not imply causality and it is not easy to define the direction of the relation (Is economic development that causes high level of public spending? Or, on the contrary, higher level of public spending foster economic development?) 16 In China, for example, 85% of public expenditure is made by SNGs but , according to the China’s constitution, these just receive delegated powers from the central authorities, mainly acting as paying agents with little decision-making powers (OECD, 2017). 17 The classification has mainly illustrative purposes and it presents a simplification of reality, as each dimension of decentralization is merely considered as a binary (yes/no). In reality, each main dimension of decentralization can further be broken down into multiple sub-categories (Boex and Yilmaz, 2010). 14
lacking any kind of autonomy. The SNGs of many federal countries, high and middleincome countries and well-decentralized unitary countries approximate the fully autonomous type. SNGs without any autonomy can be found in a few highly centralized countries (for example, regional governments in Peru, Kazakhstan, and other former Soviet republics). Amid these two extreme positions an intermediate type includes SNGs with considerable fiscal resources and administrative responsibilities but not political autonomy (sub-national representatives may not be directly elected by territorial constituencies nor have some basic powers such as the legislative one). 18 A second intermediate typology of SNGs would include entities with full political autonomy but limited financial powers. In this context, although subnational representatives can be selected through direct elections, they lack significant control over financial resources making them in practice heavily dependent upon national authorities.
2.4. Governance(s) for sustainable development: implications for the localization In social sciences, governance makes reference to how societal actors take decisions to develop collective action.19 Undoubtedly, attaining the 2030 Agenda pushes for going beyond â€œgovernance as usualâ€?. An effective implementation of the SDGs is expected to require governance models for issue-oriented problem-solving that go beyond the traditional ones. This section considers three governance notions relevant for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the localized achievement of its targets. The first concept is governance through goals and it refers to global governance principles that govern the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Under this perspective, the weak (legal) enforceability of the targets requires the intervention of different mechanisms in order to guarantee continuative policy support to the implementation of the Agenda. The second concept recalls the idea of metagovernance, meant as the combination of different governance styles. Its inclusion is fundamental because of the differentiated starting points and governance preferences shown by national and An example of this kind of SNGs are the voivodships in Poland and, to some extent, the new created regions in France. Some other examples can be found in countries with a past of authoritarian regimes (particularly in Latin America) or with a centralized structure (for example, francophone former colonial territories). More recently, Chinaâ€™s Communist Party leadership has transferred to provincial governments some fiscal and administrative responsibilities although without allowing a transition to subnational democracy. In these contexts, SNGs can have delegated competencies (and the corresponding fiscal resources) on relevant policy areas such as education, health (hospitals and primary attention), transportation and environment. Nevertheless, political authority and regional autonomy in the decision making still can have strong limitations (the central state that acts as a dominant principal). 19 More formally, governance is a method/mechanism for dealing with a broad range of problems/conflicts in which actors regularly arrive at mutually satisfactory and binding decisions by negotiating with each other and cooperating in the implementation of these decisions (Schmitter, 1997). 18
subnational governments. Indeed, the metagovernance approach warns about the possibility to apply ‘one-size-fits-all’ governance reforms to different territorial contexts. But at the same time, it paves the way for re-conciliating apparently contrasting approaches (bottom-up versus top-down; network, hierarchical, market governance styles) within the same context. Finally, form the policy perspective, multilevel governance constitutes the ‘classical’ model through which today analysts reflect on vertical and horizontal relations among levels of governments and stakeholders. In the context of the 2030 Agenda, multilevel governance is usually considered as the most appropriated method for increasing institutional coordination, stakeholder participation and monitoring activities in order to measure the outcomes of the goals and to allow for accountability. Global governance through goals Unlike past global governance efforts that largely relied on top-down and marketbased approaches, the 2030 Agenda relies on “governance through goals” (Biermann et al, 2017; Kanie and Biermann, 2017, Biermann 2018). This novel form of global governance is defined by weak institutional intergovernmental arrangements and the lack of legal binding commitment of countries to global goals set internationally. It follows a comprehensive, inclusive, bottom-up, non-confrontational, country-driven and stakeholder-oriented approach. Indeed, the SDGs set by the UN are eminently aspirational. The 2030 Agenda confers significant leeway for national choices and preferences, which is reflected in the qualitative nature of many of its targets (countries can define convenient accomplishment levels). Even when quantitative and clearly defined targets have been defined, governments can still rely on the nonbinding nature of the goals to decide about their implementation. Indeed, national governments retain the authority to interpret and implement the 2030 Agenda. Although innovative and pragmatic, the governance through goals paradigm implies higher risk of low implementation and policy failure, particularly, if governments and stakeholders lack clear and effective incentives. When legal sanctions are not feasible, coercion cannot be used to modify and/or direct actors’ behaviour. Other policy elements, such as effectiveness and legitimacy, acquire more relevance in guaranteeing actors’ compliance and —consequently— policy support. In the context of aspirational goals, the localization of the SDGs can contribute to strengthen policy support along the process of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Ultimately, the potential for a global strategy of governance through goals to implement the SDGs will depend on how much public authorities will be able to demonstrate that accountable public policies work to the benefit of the citizens and in response to their policy demands. 13
Common but differentiated governance and metagovernance From a governance perspective, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is a process aimed at combining universal aspirational principles with heterogeneous local preferences and territorial contexts with diverse institutional settings, administrative and political cultures and levels of social capital.20 The 2030 Agenda relies upon a set of universal normative principles currently recognized as good governance elements (e.g., rule of law, accountability, inclusive participation, gender equality).21 Some of these principles are contained in the governance-related objectives of the SDGs a: 22 a) integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions across sectors and policy domains (horizontal dimension within policy coherence) b) selection among competing policy priorities across policy domains c) inter‐connectedness between governance levels (vertical dimension within policy coherence) d) effectiveness and efficiency of administration and public service delivery e) quality and inclusiveness of public policy and decision‐making procedures f) engagement of all constituencies of civil society through different forms of participation g) transparency and accountability Since countries and subnational territories differ regarding their initial positions, governance styles and preferences, common and universal targets have to be translated in a “differentiated” way when implementing the 2030 Agenda (Meuleman, 2018). Therefore, each government implementing SDGs not only needs to define specified targets reflecting those universal values but also design corresponding processes (and institutions) to adapt them to their particular territorial context. In other words, the implementation of the common, universally accepted SDGs requires differentiated governance frameworks at all levels, instead of using just a governance
This section follows the recent contributions of Meuleman, (2018) and Meuleman and Niestroy (2015). This challenge was already identified in 1992, and enshrined as Principle 7 “Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR)” in the Rio Declaration. 21 Some of these principles were recognized as elements of the “good governance” promoted and demanded by the World Bank and other financial institutions in development cooperation since the 1990s. 22 Within the thematic SDGs 1–15, the sub-goals referring to governance aspects include, for example: the mobilization of resources to implement programs, capacity-building initiatives, the strengthening of the participation of local communities, the ability of implementing integrated policies and strategic plans, the strengthening of scientific and technological capacities. 20
style (e.g., hierarchical, network or market governance) or any combination believed to be fit-for-all-purposes. Metagovernance (a.k.a. governance of governance) consists in designing and managing a diversified combination of governance styles (Meuleman and Niestroy, 2015; Christopoulos, Horvat and Kull, 2012). It aims at producing coordinated governance (at some degree) that varies depending on the particular combination of hierarchical, market and/or network governance. 23 Within this framework, apparently contrasting approaches (e.g., bottom-up versus top-down modes, cooperative versus marketoriented methods, (strong) leadership versus (decentralized) ownership) are not contradictory but mutually enforcing and can be reconciled in a particular way to be implemented in a particular policy situation. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda poses the challenge of how to combine different governance approaches successfully “on the ground”. That is, choosing the situationally best tailor-made combination of hierarchical, network and market governance styles depending on the available opportunities (and limitations) posed by a specific territory and its policy actors.
Multi-level governance Since its emergence in the late 1990s (Hooghe and Marks, 2001, 2003) multi-level governance (MLG) has gained momentum. Notably, the term has achieved a relevant institutional support, especially among policymakers and IGOs (Committee of the Region’s White Paper on Multilevel Governance, UNDP, OECD, among others). While the ‘first generation’ of scholarship was caught up with the novelty of new governance forms and how these could transform basic institutional structures, the ‘second generation’ of literature steered MLG towards new modes of governance and regulation (Stephenson, 2013). In general terms, multilevel governance evokes an atypical scenario of decision making, characterized by a plural process of interest negotiation, vertically and horizontally integrated and open to the participation of stakeholders. This hypothetical scenario - if it exists - would mean a rupture with the more traditional forms of centralized governing style (command-and-control). This is where the novelty lies. Governance styles can be defined as the processes of decision-making and implementation, including the manner in which the organizations involved relate to each other. Three ideal-typical (in Weberian sense) governance styles are usually distinguished: hierarchical, network and market governance. Every country has a different “starting point” and preference for a governance style (or styles combination) due to constitutional settings, traditions, and political culture. The European Union has been characterized as a major supranational instance of multi-level metagovernance governing a wide range of complex and interrelated problems.
Multilevel governance is a new form of conducting politics and making public policies, an alternative replacing the vertically hierarchical nation-state model.24 In regards to its vertical dimension, MLG claims for the inclusion of SNGs in the domestic and international policy making, increasing institutional coordination across government levels and improving the nature of intergovernmental relations. In regards to its horizontal dimension, MLG makes reference to the engagement with society and its actors for the definition and implementation of more effective and legitimated public policies. Individual citizens, CSOs, universities and educational centres and private sector firms can provide —together with public administrations— the necessary resources for collective action and successful policies. Far from being a packet of tools and principles easily applicable in one context or another, MLG arrangements rely upon political agreements that require a particular set of enabling conditions and a strong and shared commitment from all the actors involved. Multilevel governance represents a complex type of public governance reforms that entail risks and obstacles that should not be underestimated, such as lack of political commitment, weak administrative capacities, higher coordination costs, partisan politics (e.g., alignment to different electoral cycles). Multilevel processes often stall, fail and may be postponed and even reversed without producing effective results or the expected outcomes. 25 When, for example, budgetary resources are insufficient or limited, governments might establish shared financial instruments in order to guarantee the execution of the interventions. However, fiscal innovation is in many cases limited by institutional/constitutional settings that do not allow to SNGs to modify state-based fiscal instruments. Analogously, policy coherence requires effective coordination The original concept of MLG has been used by scholars in diverse ways. For a review of the literature on MLG, see Stephenson, 2013; Piattoni, 2009. In this footnote we report some of the most used definition of MLG. P. Schmitter defines “MLG as an arrangement for making binding decisions that engages a multiplicity of politically independent but otherwise interdependent actors – private and public – at different levels of territorial aggregation in more-or-less continuous negotiation/deliberation/implementation, and that does not assign exclusive policy competence or assert a stable hierarchy of political authority to any of these levels.” (Schmitter, 2004). S. Piattoni defines MLG “as a diverse set of arrangements, panoply of systems of coordination and negotiation among formally independent but functionally interdependent entities that stand in complex relations to one another and that, through coordination and negotiation, keep redefining these relations”. (Piattoni, 2009). The Committee of the Regions defines MLG as “the coordinated action by the European Union, the Member States and local and regional authorities, based on partnership and aimed at drawing up and implementing EU policies” (Committee of the Regions, 2009). In the context of development, it is possible to find definition as it follows: “Multi-level governance is an example of cross-scale integration, in the sense of governance arrangements established between institutions with different scopes, jurisdictions and epistemologies. The concept of scale is herein applied to identify the different subject areas of analysis, such as spatial, temporal, jurisdictional and institutional (Stevens, 2018). 25 http://www.oecd.org/regional/regional-policy/multi-level-governance-reforms-9789264272866en.htm 24
among different ministries and agencies as well as coordination between levels of government. In national contexts characterized by weak and informal intergovernmental relations and with non-cooperative political culture, coordination mechanisms â€”even if formalized in some laws or regulationâ€” are likely to remain ineffective. For illustrative purposes, Table 1 resumes the advantages and potential obstacles that the definition of novel multilevel governance frameworks can imply. Table 1 â€“ Advantages and potential obstacles of a Multi-level governance framework Policy issue
Advantages of a MLG approach
Potential obstacles/resistance to change
Unstable or insufficient budgets undermine effective implementation
Establishment of shared financing instruments among levels of governments (example: regional or national funds for which local governments can apply)
- Increasing costs of coordination - Budget deficits at the regional and national level
Economies of scale/scope/variety
Scale for investment does not correspond with administrative scale (fragmentation or small scale problem)
Creation of Instruments for reaching effective size such as co-ordinations among SNGs (mergers, consortia, associations,)
- Increasing costs of coordination - Partisan politics - Political Fragmentation
National ministries take purely vertical approaches (high centralization)
Asymmetries of information (quantity, quality, type) between different stakeholders, either voluntary or not
Need for incentives for revealing and sharing information
Lack of human, knowledge or infrastructural resources to design integrative strategies for local development
Need for instrument to build local capacity
Need of mechanism that approach the territorial dimension
- Weak or informal intergovernmental relations - Horizontal asymmetries among SNGs - Partisan politics and partisan alignment - Lack of administrative capacity - Interests capture - Lack of incentives for sharing information - Lack of administrative capacity - Lack of horizontal coordination - Partisan politics
- Bureaucracy resistance
Contradictory objectives across sectorial strategies
Problems in ensuring transparency across levels of government, clientelism and problems of possible corruption
Need for instrument to align objectives
Need for instruments to strengthen rule of law and civil society involvement
- Increasing costs of coordination - Lack of horizontal coordination - Line ministries with different agendas - National regulation - Lack of political and administrative culture - Weak enforceability - Weak monitoring capacities
Source: the authors adapted from OECD
2.5. Localizing the SDGs: challenges and opportunities Despite the presence of different guidelines and toolboxes for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, its transformative character is likely to pose relevant challenges to all SNGs. Adapting global and aspirational strategies to local preferences require the definition and implementation of integrated policy approaches in complex governance environments. In some cases, policy change can find resistance and raise confrontation among social groups and actors who are negatively affected or threatened by the reforms. At the domestic level, reforms are generally conducted by central governments who need to adapt an integrative governance approach by considering all levels of governments, stakeholdersâ€™ participation and the interactions among actors. Reforms are often controversial and â€”when poorly explainedâ€” resistance by public officials (at all levels) as well as from citizens and local stakeholders can occur. At the same time, however, the localization of the SDGs constitutes a necessity for its effective implementation and a unique opportunity to foster less hierarchical and state-led approaches that favor policy effectiveness and legitimacy. By following a set of universally agreed principles, SNGs that participate in the implementation of the SDGs can notably contribute to the 2030 Agenda strengthening policy effectiveness and policy legitimacy. SNGs can play a relevant role actively participating in the definition of the situational best combination of governance styles that can result in a successful implementation of particular targets in their territory. Towards this end, central governments need to engage with SNGs as complementary public actors that can contribute to a more coordinated, inclusive and coherent policy action at the 18
subnational level (UNDP, 2018) 26.Table 2 present a SWOT analysis about the strengths/weaknesses and opportunities/threatens of involving SNGs in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Table 2 – SWOT Analysis about the involvement of SNGs in the implementation of the 2030 agenda. Strengths
SNGs as policy-makers are primarily involved in many SDGs. They own expertise, knowledge and resources. This is particularly relevant for the implementation stage. (EFFECTIVENESS) SNGs can promote effective cooperation with central state’s institutions by improving the nature of multilevel dialogue at the domestic level. (EFFECTIVENESS) SNGs can establish win-win solutions and innovative initiatives targeted at the achievement of some relevant SDGs (SDG 11 and the urban dimension; inter-municipal cooperation, for example). (EFFECTIVENESS) SNGs are well placed in order to better communicate and inform about policy reforms at the local level. SNGs are democratically legitimated authorities that represent communities’ interests and act on behalf of the entire community. (LEGITIMACY) SNGs are well placed to select those concerns and local priorities that affect the population. (LEGITIMACY) By linking public administrations to local constituencies, localization can increase the quality of multistakeholder participation. (LEGITIMACY)
SNGs display variety across the globe. In some cases, SNGs have limited financial, human and technical resources. Scarce capacity of service delivering. (EFFECTIVENESS) National structures vary across level of decentralization. SNGs with lower degree of autonomy have more difficulties in defining territorial own strategies. (EFFECTIVENESS) In presence of territorial complexities (or a high number of SNGs at the domestic level), coordination costs are likely to increase. (EFFECTIVENESS) When institutional contexts are weak, local politics can be captured by powerful economic interests. (clientelism, corruption, transparency). (LEGITIMACY) In territorial contexts with high political fragmentation, multilevel agreements among level of governments ruled by contrasting political majorities are more difficult to be established. (EFFECTIVENESS) An unbalanced process of localization of the SDGs may contribute to crystallize or increase structures of regional inequality (LEGITIMACY)
SNGs, and their national associations, take already part to IIRR and global governance institutions (momentum) 2030 Agenda, New Urban Agenda, Decentralized Cooperation frameworks provides a set of commonly agreed principles to which SNGs have formally committed. The active role of the international networks and national associations of SNGs strengthens advocacy actions Good practice in SDG localization can be the basis of a powerful, shared political agenda for better governance in cities and regions
Although decentralization processes have advanced all across the world, in some case delegated powers are limited; IIRR are mainly intergovernmental and SNGs participation in global governance institutions is seldom transformed into influence. Internationalization of domestic policies might imply re-centralization of policymaking owing to diplomatic, unified dialogue between central governments and international officers and institutions (case of regions in the EU)
3. Analytical framework This section presents the analytical framework proposed to examine how the involvement of SNGs in the implementation of the SDGs can strengthen policy effectiveness and policy legitimacy, thus, conferring higher policy support to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The section reviews relevant literature on policy effectiveness and legitimacy, explains the policy-cycle approach, and presents key arguments and topics about the policy areas of institutional coordination, stakeholder participation and monitoring and accountability referred to the localization of the 2030 Agenda.
3.1. Policy support in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda In the “governance through goals” paradigm, the success of the 2030 Agenda largely relies on establishing benchmarks that national governments pledge to accomplish, fearing peer-disappointment in the international society in case of non-compliance (Young 2017, Biermann et al 2017, Kanie and Biermann, 2017). 27 Reliance on this peerpressure mechanism as a main driver of policy support is appropriate in the context of an international society of sovereign countries characterized by weak intergovernmental arrangements and lack of legal binding commitment on development issues. Differently, the political systems within countries present formal intergovernmental and legal structures. Therefore, the topic of (domestic) policy support in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda within countries must be examined considering structured policy processes. When sanctions and penalties are not feasible, the enforcement of authoritative political decisions is usually weak (Dahl, 1998; Peters, 1986). Therefore, a major obstacle to implement the 2030 Agenda consists in ensuring constant long-term policy support. At the domestic level, multi-level, multi-sector and multi-actor governance reforms depend on the commitment shown by public authorities, stakeholders and citizens to the implementation of the SDGs. The concern about gaining policy support to succeed in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the country level justifies the analytical perspective of the present report. Relying on concepts and instruments present in the literature on public policies and political theory, this reports analyses how the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the subnational level can strengthen policy effectiveness and legitimacy, consequently, strengthening the policy support to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The This “naming and shaming” mechanism of social pressure, and hence the success of the 2030 Agenda, highly relies on an effective monitoring of the policy efforts that countries devote to attain the SDGs and of their progress towards them. 27
argument is twofold. Firstly, in the aspirational framework of the 2030 Agenda the perceived legitimacy and the effectiveness of policies associated to the SDGs become crucially relevant. Secondly, the localization of the SDGs â€”meant as the involvement of SNGs in their implementationâ€” can improve both legitimacy and effectiveness at the territorial level, strengthening actorsâ€™ support and commitment along the implementation process of the 2030 Agenda. The analytical framework presented in this section combines a set of elements to guide the exploration of the domestic implementation of the 2030 Agenda with the involvement of SNGs and territorial stakeholders and communities in the creation of policies aimed at localizing the SDGs. The core elements of the analytical framework are policy effectiveness and legitimacy, which are analyzed along the different stages of the policy-cycle. Under this framework, policy effectiveness and legitimacy are considered key drivers of policy support by means of fostering the commitment of public authorities, stakeholders and citizens along the policy-cycle. The report claims that maintaining persistent support to the long-term implementation of the 2030 Agenda can be better achieved if SDG policies are determined according to the preferences of stakeholders, integrating these in the policy debate and negotiation. Moreover, political authorities with the power and the responsibility to take action must be accountable to citizens, and policies must be effective in the sense of being sensitive to the demands, needs and contextual social, economic and political characteristics of the territory. The localization of the SDGs would contribute to facilitate all these policy aspects, thus conferring policy support to the domestic implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In consequence, the analytical framework focuses on three main policy and governance aspects: institutional coordination, stakeholder participation and monitoring. They are central issues in the 2030 Agenda and are associated to the localization of the SDGs and the strengthening of policy effectiveness and policy legitimacy. Institutional coordination refers to the mechanisms to pull and organize policy resources and political will from different government levels, administrations and the political actors associated to these. Stakeholder participation refers to the definition of inclusive, plural and open mechanisms of preference negotiation and resource contribution in the localization of SDGs. Finally, the monitoring of policy processes and outcomes help to keep accountable the policy actors that participate in the implementation of the SDGs in regards to their compromise to attain them. Next in this section, the topics of legitimacy and effectiveness are considered presenting fundamental arguments from the policy literature). Section 3.2 presents the stages of the policy-cycle (This structure should enhance the policy applicability of the analytical framework). Finally, Section 3.3 integrates the different conceptual
elements of the analytical framework: institutional coordination, stakeholder participation and monitoring for policy evaluation and accountability.
Policy legitimacy Legitimacy is a fundamental concept in the social and political sciences. It has been traditionally considered in regards to power and political authority (Beetham, 1991, George, 1980; Buchanan, 2002; Stoker, 2003; Scharpf, 1999) 28. Legitimacy is a prerequisite for political authority.29 It underlies the expectation that constituencies comply with the power exerted by public authorities. The confidence of constituencies on the fairness and suitability of their policy makers confer legitimacy to public policies and the rule of law, even when these are associated to adverse effects for the interests of the governed constituencies. The literature has recognized several sources of legitimacy (Scharpf, 1999; Dahl, 1989, 1998; Beetham and Lord, 1998; O’Donnell, 2004). A classical distinction differentiates between input and output legitimacy. Based on the ‘government by the people’ argument, input legitimacy broadly focuses on the processes that inform political decisions and policy-making dynamics. Governors must take into account people’s (the governed) preferences. An authoritative decision is considered legitimate if it is the outcome of a (plural, fair, transparent and inclusive) negotiation process that considers people’s preferences. Output legitimacy relies on the idea of ‘government for the people’ and it is associated to the consequences (not the process) of the decisionmaking process; accordingly, a policy is legitimated if it benefits the public and if public authorities can be made accountable for their actions. Legitimacy has yet to become a more prominent research area within the public policy field (Peters, 2005) and some recent studies on new governance systems (with Beetham and Lord (1998) define three types of legitimacy. 1) Procedural legitimacy refers to the methods used to select or elect the main political actors; the higher the freedom and the more direct these methods are the higher the legitimacy (the internal transparency and bureaucracy level of the main political organizations is also relevant). 2) Efficacy-based legitimacy refers to the extent that a political system obtains policy results that are aligned with the demands of the citizenry and the average voter; it is associated to policy decision-making processes, the system of checks and balances and the presence of accountability processes. 3) Social legitimacy refers to the citizenry’s feeling of belonging to a political community, which affects their moral-based obedience, norm accomplishment and willingness to participate and get involved in political processes. 29 The political legitimacy of governments depends on being constituted and performing according to agreed norms referred to their general purpose and the source of their authority. This authority must be confirmed by the expressed consent of the members of the political community. The consent of the governed is the factor emphasized in Locke’s approach to political legitimacy. It can be direct (elections, referendums) or indirect (tacit acceptance of the government action). Under Hume’s approach, the legitimacy of a government derives from its efficacy to generate good political and economic performance. Government action is supported by citizens if it confers them some benefits or they interpret its action as according to the public interest. 28
multiple participant stakeholders and, often, also spanning multiple government levels) are overcoming the limitation of merely considering preference (input) and performance (output) legitimacy approaches (Schmidt, 2013; Jagers, Matti and Nordblom, 2016). Their newer approach considers also the so-called “throughput” legitimacy, which focuses specifically on the quality of the inclusion of actors in the policy process, policy interactions and policy procedures. It is a legitimacy form closely related deliberative practices and the broadening of participation throughout fair, open, inclusive and transparent governance processes (Dryzek, 2001). The latter aspect particularly relevant in regards to multi-stakeholder participation in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Accountability is importantly associated to policy (output) legitimacy. It generally refers to the demands on an agent to report on certain activities and the ability to impose him sanctions. In political systems, accountability refers to mechanisms to (a) make politicians and bureaucrats to inform and justify publicly about each decision they adopt and (b) make possible their sanctioning (Przeworski et al, 1999). Accountability is primarily considered from a vertical perspective where the citizenry makes governments responsible of their actions. It can also be considered horizontally, in the sense of the different institutions and organizations that constitute the institutional setting of a political system being accountable to each other. (including accountability within government, between decision-makers and courts, between companies and regulators as well as between bureaucracies and the parliament). Studies on regulatory governance based on the regulatory state paradigm (Majone 2000; Scott 2000) have considered accountability (and transparency) from a principalagent perspective to analyze authority delegation. Particularly, Majone (1999) claims that public sector reforms and network governance models have introduced changes in accountability modes. Rather than reducing accountability, Majone suggests, for example, that the shift towards the regulatory state involves a move from input-based to output-based legitimacy, being the latter closely associated to accountability of the policy outcomes achieved. Therefore, institutionalized accountability processes are not only associated to policy legitimacy but also to policy effectiveness (e.g., electoral processes make political actors to have higher incentive to be politically effective; O’Donell, 2004b). In this regard, analogously to legitimacy, Patil, Vieider and Tetlock (2014, p. 69) differentiate between accountability of efforts to achieve outcomes and that focused on the effectiveness of the efforts in actually delivering outcomes. The 2030 Agenda relies on both input (“means of implementation”) and outcome (“SDGs”) accountability.
Policy effectiveness Effectiveness is usually defined as a measure of the extent to which a public policy attains its objectives (Peters, 2003). As it has been suggested above, effectiveness affects policy legitimacy. Public interventions that are effective in solving citizens’ needs also receive higher degrees of policy support, thus, inducing the compliance of policy actors and preventing free riding. Effectiveness is strictly linked to policy design, which consists in defining formal (and informal) mechanisms and incentives to mobilize public and private resources for the achievement of policy goals. The literature indicates that policy design is a complex process that is not merely a straightforward technical process (Meny and Thoening, 2000). It involves considering different assessments of the nature, urgency and priority of a policy issue, the channels available to negotiate interests and the preferred governance styles. When a set of policy goals are intersecting, integrative and interlinked—as it is in the case of the SDGs—policy design and effectiveness are extremely challenging.30 The SDGs framework, with a wide spectrum covering 17 goals and 169 targets, offers a good opportunity to take an integrated approach that seeks and scales up synergies, and mitigates and eliminates trade‐offs through horizontal integration across sectors and vertical collaborations across various administrative levels (Nilsson, Griggs and Visbeck, 2016). The holistic and long-term character of the 2030 Agenda requires flexible policy frameworks. The effectiveness of SDG policies needs credible commitments from governments to deal with changing circumstance as well as coherence across policy sectors, cooperation across levels of governments and stakeholder involvement. Therefore, at the domestic level, formal negotiation frameworks (sectorial and territorial) that integrate different stakeholder interests, institutional coordination among government levels and sectors and monitoring processes (for policy evaluation and accountability) become crucial aspects to attain and assess the policy commitments that the 2030 Agenda demands. The particular ways to achieve the SDGs at the national and subnational levels are determined by the diverse institutional capacities and the preferences of countries and subnational territories (Meuleman and Niestroy, 2015). This variation is an important factor that affects the effectiveness of the policies created to implement the 2030 Agenda in a national or subnational territory. Establishing an enabling environment for flexible, inclusive and effective multi-level governance mechanisms will be conditioned The issue of SDGs interlinkages has been addressed in the applied and political debate under the framework of policy coherence and of integrated policy approaches for sustainability. While being broadly framed as 17 separate and diverse elements, goals and associated targets inherently interlink with one another, making up indivisible parts from a systemic perspective. Actions or measures taken for achieving one goal may be mutually reinforcing or contradictory with achieving other goals. To systematically consider the issue on SDGs interlinkages see: https://sdginterlinkages.iges.jp/files/IGES_Research%20Report_SDG%20Interlinkages_Printing%20Versi on.pdf 30
by the nature of the relations among different policy actors and the combination of governance styles that are present in the state structure of a given country. 3.2. The policy-cycle approach Scholars usually rely upon the policy-cycle approach to assess and explain whether policies are effective and legitimated and the gaps and shortcomings that they may present (Anderson, 1975; Sutton, 1999; Peters, 1989; Bates and Eldredge, 1980; Hogwood and Gunn, 1984). 31 The policy-cycles paradigm usually divides the policy process into four stages: agenda setting, policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. This division into observable components makes the approach particularly practical, allowing for a systematic analysis of possible gaps and problems concerning the effectiveness and legitimacy of a policy (e.g., localization of gaps and problems, how/whom should address them). The policy-cycle approach is also useful because it allows a clear differentiation of the roles of different actors across its different stages (Sutton, 1999; Scharpf, 1999). This is particularly relevant to analyze SDGs that require establishing multi-actor and multi-level governance models in which the compromise and responsibility of the different participants can vary across the policy-cycle stages.32 The validity of the policy-cycle approach, though, is partly limited, as real-life policy processes not always follow the model, and present variations according to polities, policy sectors and policy issues. Importantly, the approach tends to describe better the sort of policy process characteristic of democratic and well-endowed policy contexts, more commonly found in high-income countries. In less developed policy environments, political and economic elites are more likely to deviate from the classical policy-cycle and adopt a dominant position in the policy-making process. Despite these limitations, the policy-cycle approach is quite useful. The conceptualization of legitimacy as stemming from differing sources during the input, throughput and output phases implies that the legitimization of a policy framework should be viewed as a dynamic process (Jagers, Matti and Nordblo, 2016). In this regard, the sources of policy legitimacy would vary as the policy process moves along the different stages of the policy-cycle and, accordingly, actors’ policy support and commitment would be driven by different forms of legitimacy: “input” during the initial decision-making stage, “throughput” during the implementation, and “output”
A public policy is a process by which a government can apply control over the issue being addressed in a defined territory (e.g., village, township, province, region) in relation to specific social groups and stakeholders (e.g., consumers, families, companies) by applying different instruments (e.g., public funds, public-private partnership, service-contracts) for achieving expected goals. 32 About actors’ responsibility in the SDGs policy context see, for example, Bexell and Jonsson, 2017. 31
in the stage of evaluation of the policy results. The following of this section presents the different policy-cycle stages.
Agenda setting: which SDG targets should be elevated on the political agenda? Setting the policy agenda involves prioritizing among different social needs, selecting those problems that are considered more important and urgent to address. It can imply an inclusive, open and integrated debate that connects multiple stakeholders and constituencies. Methods and instruments for setting participatory debates have been extensively developed today, being their success and applicability dependent on territorial characteristics (see Section 3.3.2 of this report). When sufficiently and critically informed citizens and stakeholders can openly negotiate their preferences, the definition of the agenda gains in effectiveness and legitimacy. Informing the population about the 2030 Agenda is an obligation for public authorities. Government institutions seeking to achieve the SDGs need to engage with citizens, listen to them and mobilize them into action. Public administrations at all levels can play a key role in providing formal and structured forums for the debate among stakeholders and in improving coordination mechanisms for the negotiation of territorial interests. The target audiences are diverse and the typology of stakeholders and actors differ according to territories and policy issues. Although the public awareness that there is a global set of development goals appears to be on the rise, after three years from their official announcement, the SDGs are still considered opaque, unknown and too abstract among large and generic audiences. 33 Three groups of audiences are particularly relevant regarding awareness of the 2030 Agenda: citizens, politicians and public officials of a technical level. Citizens are the ones who seem to be less aware of the goals. According to the 2017 Eurobarometer, just 1 in 10 Europeans know about the SDGs (OECD, 2017a). Some politicians also appear insufficiently informed about the salience and the relevance of SDGs for their political agendas. Political leadership and commitment in favour of the SDGs is the most basic condition for introducing these into complex administrative structures. In December 2018 the General Secretary of UCGL openly admitted that the still many of UCGL members, especially in low and medium income countries, are not yet fully aware about the SDGs. Finally, SDGs are perceived among For some recent surveys, see OECD, 2017a, What People Know and Think About the Sustainable Development Goals Selected Findings from Public Opinion Surveys, OECD Development Communication Network (DevCom) June 2017 available at https://www.oecd.org/development/pgd/International_Survey_Data_DevCom_June%202017.pdf 33
the public officials of a technical level as being too conceptual with regard to the concrete applications they are in charge to in their day-to-day work. Within administrative structures of many SNGs, SDGs are still perceived as global interests very much linked to international cooperation, and resistance to change extant policy dynamics often arise from sectorial departments.
Policy formulation: which policies and instruments should be formulated to territorialize the selected SDG targets? The second stage of the policy cycle involves the policy-making process, leading to the selection of appropriate governance mechanisms and policy instruments for achieving the SDGs territorially. Starting from a critical revision of the already existing governance structures at the territorial level, governments and stakeholders are coresponsible for the design of the institutional setting (institutions and processes) that regulate the implementation of the targets. In some cases, institutional and organizational change can occur. Internal committees, task forces, working groups, or units alike can be created or adapted to coordinate and strengthen the policy-making process. Many national and subnational governments, for example, formally included the 2030 Agenda as part of their political and development strategies. Nevertheless, the process of alignment, adaptation and/or inclusion of the SDGs into territorial strategies and frameworks followed different modalities. In some cases, national and regional parliaments officially approved a longterm joint strategy, thus, enhancing the political nature of the agreement. In some other cases, instead, the strategy is mainly a programmatic document that lacks of legal obligation. When goals are integrative and affect multiple stakeholders, policy-making become more complex. Firstly, actorsâ€™ position regarding the selection of appropriate policy instruments might diverge and bring to unclear distribution of tasks and responsibilities that will negatively affect the implementation stage. Secondly, SNGs usually dispose of a limited set of policy instruments. Policy instruments â€”as tools used by governments to pursue a desired outcomeâ€” include economic tools (taxes, spending, incentives), legal norms (laws, decrees, regulations) and voluntary selfregulation. Normative instruments are usually very effective if they can be enforceable. SNGs with legislative powers can enact laws and legal acts, as well as binding documents providing instructions for actions in a specific policy area. Weaker SNGs, without legal powers, cannot.
Implementation: how can SDG targets be executed in the territory? 28
According to some authors, the real test of the power of governments is not whether they can get a policy approved, but whether they can get it implemented (Hogwood and Gunn, 1984). The implementation stage is a process that includes three relevant aspects. Firstly, it requires some level of coordination among governments, public administrations and civil society (including private firms); secondly, the tasks and actions are executed chronologically, programmed and, usually, â€”reliant upon normative and legal acts; and finally, a dense set of actors takes part in the processâ€” including different units from the public administrations, executive agencies, firms, NGOs and the targeted groups of citizens. Research on public policy suggests that there may be more than a hundred of variables that can affect the implementation of a policy. Sometimes the policy is defective because it reflects an inadequate understanding of the problem to be solved or the cause-effect link is not a linear one. Evidently, the more the links in the causal chain the more complex the implementation becomes. More often, however, policies fail because during the implementation stage they encounter relevant obstacles due to the fact that governments inevitably have to rely on other actors for the implementation, such as other government levels, public agencies, civil servants and officials, as well as on the private sector and the civil society stakeholders. Therefore, understanding the relationship between policy-makers and policy deliverers and acknowledging that implementers have much discretion in how to implement a policy, can help in making more effective public policies. Ideally, the best case scenario is for a single implementing agency which does not need/depend on other agencies for the successful implementation of a policy. However, this contradicts the integrative and holistic approach of the SDGs. To the extent that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda has to rely upon the participation of many and diverse actors, it will be difficult to detail tasks in much detail and perfect sequencing for all actors. When the number of actors is high and when the number of decisions to be taken is also high, communication and coordination costs also increase. Even assuming that communication channels works well, instructions can be easily misinterpreted or partially understood or even ignored by actors with different agendas and interests.
Evaluation: have the policies achieved the expected outcomes and impacts? The evaluation of a policy is the ultimate stage of the policy cycle and it is fundamentally subject to the monitoring of the expected outcomes in order to observe
and assess whether the policy impacts have been achieved.34 Under the public policy perspective, evaluation consists in assessing the results of a policy and its impact on the targeted elements of society (e.g., demographic groups, environment, work conditions). Evaluation requires understanding how much of the change observed is due to the application/implementation of the selected policy, discarding possible spurious and unintended effects. Given these potential effects, (impact) evaluation is usually a difficult activity that requires a considerable amount of data and deep methodological expertise. According to different administrative and institutional cultures, governments and public administrations show different degrees of commitment with regard to evaluation activities. In many low and medium income countries, for example, the institutionalization of the evaluative tasks is still incipient and a proper evaluation culture is still missing. Within the policy cycle and strictly linked to evaluation, monitoring represents a complementary activity that can improve the effectiveness and the legitimacy of public policies. Monitoring refers to the collection and analysis of information about a program, a project or a policy, usually undertaken while the project is still ongoing. It serves two main goals. The first one is to control whether actions have been correctly executed and they have produced the expected outcomes. The second goal consists in gathering relevant data and information for the improvement (or adjustment) of the policy to be implemented. Since the intended policies to achieve the SDGs have not been fully implemented yet and public policies usually need time in order to display impacts on beneficiaries, the evaluation of SDGs-related policies is still absent or scarce. Monitoring activities, through the definition of a set of shared indicators, have been formally included in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The feeling is that without the support from national and international institutions and without additional human and financial resources, weaker SNGs are expected to face difficulties in monitoring the SDGs.
3.3. Key policy aspects in the localization of the SDGs Once presented the analytical framework proposed to examine how the involvement of SNGs in the implementation of the SDGs can strengthen policy effectiveness and policy legitimacy, and reviewed relevant literature on policy effectiveness and legitimacy, the report next presents key arguments and topics about the policy areas
In the specialized literature on public policy analysis, outcomes are different from impacts. Usually, monitoring tasks relies upon indicators that measures outcomes. In change, evaluation tasks search for impacts on final beneficiaries. For further details, see for example Meny and Thoening, 2000. 34
of institutional coordination, stakeholder participation and monitoring and accountability referred to the localization of the 2030 Agenda.
3.3.1. Institutional coordination Introduction This section presents basic ideas and relevant issues about institutional coordination referred to the 2030 Agenda. It deals with policy coherence in the definition of the institutional framework for the domestic implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The section includes a critical analysis about institutional change and adaptation, and focuses on the relations between regional and local governments in the achievement of the SDGs. The fact that â€˜institutions matterâ€™ for the policy making activity is well established in the literature (North, 1994; World Bank, 1997). Particularly, the emphasis is on strong, stable and mature institutions that are considered crucial to define and implement effective development policies. The need for integrated and coherent policy approaches and the principle of leaving no one behind represent special challenges to institutions. Since no organization can tackle the global development challenges of today alone, governments, CSOs, the private sector and international organizations all have a role to play in the implementation of the SDGs. Indeed, the 2030 Agenda underscores the importance of strengthened institutional frameworks for sustainable development at the national and subnational levels. Institutional coordination is considered in this report to be the formal models of coordination among governments and public administrations (mainly, local, regional and central governments) to implement the 2030 Agenda. As mentioned earlier in this report (see Section 2.4), institutional coordination is one prominent feature of multilevel governance structures and it basically refers to actors and processes that govern intergovernmental relations at the domestic level.35 Coordination among institutions is vital for achieving policy coherence. Horizontal coherence includes those institutional arrangements that can facilitate integration among policy-sectors, given the integrative nature of the SDGs and their cross-sector (positive and negative) externalities. Instead, vertical coherence refers to the integration of the territorial interests and preferences at the domestic level. Clearly, the choice of the institutional design and of coordination mechanisms does have an impact on how policy responsibilities are allocated among various levels of government. Different designs have a differentiated impact on how legitimacy, effectiveness and accountability are 35
The horizontal dimension of multilevel governance deals with stakeholdersâ€™ participation.
assessed with respect the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The critical point consists in building capacities to better exploit complementarities both across sectorial policies and between different levels of governments.
Policy coherence (horizontal dimension) As countries vary according to governance styles and preferences, formal coordination mechanisms are indicative on how governments adapt their institutional frameworks to implement the 2030 Agenda. Different institutional designs reveal how the views of different ministries, agencies, sub-national governments and stakeholders are taken into account. The main challenge is to achieve policy coherence meanwhile sectorial – sometime overlapping - interests are equally safeguarded. Involvement of government institutions in the implementation of the Agenda cuts across all sectors. Therefore, while there is greater representation from environment, transportation and natural resources and planning and finance-related ministries, other ministries associated with social, educational, housing and more transversal issues (gender, transparency, digitalization and others) are also wanting. Evidence shows multiple solutions. 36 Only to quote some relevant experiences, the Brazilian government established in 2017 the National Commission for the Sustainable Development Goals as the main mechanism to foster dialogue, engagement and integration of the initiatives carried out by subnational entities and civil society. In Spain, a High-Level Group for the 2030 Agenda (HLG) was created in September 2017 (under the authority of the Government Delegated Commission for Economic Affairs) to coordinate the implementation of SDGs. In the case of the Philippines, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) —Philippines’ planning agency is at the forefront in coordinating and monitoring the implementation of SDGs. The three aforementioned examples all illustrate the involvement of ministries and public agencies from different sectors in the joint policy-making of multifaceted policy issues. Deciding which institutions should lead and impulse the coordination of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the domestic level is an unclear and contextsensitive task. Some authors and organizations argue in favor to assign coordination responsibilities at the highest political level, such as prime ministries’ offices or cabinets. In the negotiation of the internal policy-making, prime ministries dispose of political power to impose decisions upon line-ministries or sectoral agencies. From the regulatory perspective, others authors suggest to centralize coordination tasks in an independent public agency accountable to parliamentary assemblies, for example. For a review on institutional and coordination mechanisms, see for example Devika et al., 2017; OECD 2017b; OECD, 2017c, OECD, 2017d, OECD, 2018. 36
Being universally accepted that â€˜breaking down silosâ€™ is today a priority for the modernization of public administrations, with the particular solutions to do it depending on country-specific conditions. In low and medium income countries, for example, the selection of coordination mechanisms for the localization of the SDGs must reflect on the institutional capacities available at home. Unjustified mergers of ministries or an unclear delegation of powers to public agencies can lead to ineffectiveness, and loss of transparency and accountability, especially, if the rule of law and quality of institutions are low. A mechanism that can strengthen horizontal public scrutiny to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda consists in involving national and sub-national parliaments. Although the situation could be improved, an increasing number of national and subnational parliaments are currently engaged in the 2030 Agenda. 37 At the country-level, for example, the SDG Taskforce of National Assembly of Pakistan provides support for members of National and Provincial Assemblies and delegates from civil society to engage with respective federal and provincial governments. 38 In 2015, the National Assembly for Wales passed the Well-being of Future Generations Act, the main mechanism by which Wales can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. The Act puts into law seven well-being goals based on economic, social, environmental and cultural dimensions of sustainable development in Wales.39 As national processes for the implementation of the SDGs are being put in place, parliaments can play a role in giving political impetus to the implementation of the SDGs. The involvement of parliaments basically means bringing back politics into the implementation process of the 2030 Agenda. 40 Coordination between the executive and the legislative branches is useful to address the criticisms that consider the SDGs to be an exclusive government-driven exercise. Firstly, parliaments have a central role in advancing the SDGs by adopting enabling legislation, such a budgetary laws and regulations. Secondly, institutional coordination between governments and parliaments allows holding governments accountable for the implementation of the SDGs, thus increasing horizontal accountability. Thirdly, making politicians accountable in some areas of the SDGs helps to elevate the public debate among constituencies For review of the role of parliaments in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, see Parliament's Role in Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: a Parliamentary Handbook, edited by Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Available here: https://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/Democratic%20Governance/Parliamentary%20Devel opment/parliaments%20role%20in%20implementing%20the%20SDGs.pdf 38 http://www.pk.undp.org/content/pakistan/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2018/nationalparliamentary-consultation-on-sustainable-development-g.html 39 https://futuregenerations.wales/about-us/future-generations-act/ 37
Being aware of and understanding the political factors that may affect the implementation of the SDGs is also important. Such factors may include issues of corruption and rent-seeking. 40
because stakeholders become involved in the policy process as a side effective of their interest in accountability. Finally, it contributes to commit domestic political actors to no-partisan and long-term development strategies. Along this line, the inclusion of the SDGs framework into the official agenda of political parties represents an innovative step towards a more effective, accountable and legitimated implementation of the 2030 Agenda. At the moment, however, there are very few cases of politicization of the SDGs, that is, the inclusion of the targets into the electoral programs of parties. One of these examples regards the British Columbia government of Canada. Led by the action of the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC), between 2015 and 2016 a program identified more than 2.200 groups already working on the implementation of the SDGs, and the debate on their localization was deeply included in the provincial elections as an opportunity for greater political engagement around the SDGs. 41
Policy coherence (vertical dimension) Governance to deal with the implementation of the SDGs has to be flexible enough to allow common and universal goals to be adapted domestically. Vertical coordination among territorial units represents a critical challenge and the evidence shows that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to collaboration. The structure of the state (centralized versus federal), the political culture and climate, socioeconomic characteristics and organizational factors related to the context of a specific country may create specific opportunities for, or barriers to, vertical cooperation (HLFP, 2018). From the intergovernmental perspective, state structures include more or less formalized channels for the domestic negotiation of territorial interests. In federals arrangements, the second chamber usually guarantees the representations of subnational preferences. In centralized states, it is the constitutional framework and the country’s political culture the key determinant of effectiveness and functioning of vertical structures. Along the classical distinction between a federation and a unitary state42, the degree of decentralization and the representation of regional/federated units in the national policy making define the extent of influence that SNGs have over the formal scheme of intergovernmental relations of a polity.
More information available here: https://www.bc2030.ca/partiesCandidates.htm Some authors consider that a federal system is defined by combining ‘self-rule’ and ‘shared rule’. However, given that the relationship between state structures and decentralization is often uncertain, diverse outcomes are possible. There are examples of relatively centralized and decentralized federal countries (e.g., Austria versus Canada) as well as examples of highly centralized and decentralized unitary countries (e.g., Bangladesh versus Denmark or Spain). For a review on federalism and decentralization, see Riker, 1964, Elazar, 1987, Lijparth, 1999, Dardanelli, 2017.
The comparative literature presents cases of the functioning of vertically integrated and inclusive institutions for the representation of regional interests into the domestic arenas. There are, for example, positive examples of effective vertical coordination in the environmental sector in different countries (usually, federal states). The Canadian provinces Alberta, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and QuĂŠbec, since 2016, cooperate with the federal government through the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.43 The Cross River State in Nigeria participates in meetings coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Environment on adaptation strategies at the country level. In Mexico, the State of Jalisco has adopted measures aligned to those undertaken by the federal government. Although the transformative nature of the SDGs constitutes a good opportunity for improving coordination among levels of governments, in many countries vertical integration is usually still based on informal, highly politicized and centrally-dominated intergovernmental structures. In the specific case of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the available information seems to confirm that vertical relations are still dominated by the central government and regional governmentsâ€™ participation (a part from some exception) is mainly adaptive (if not passive). In absence of cooperative political culture, for example, vertical coordination structures are usually far from being completely open, inclusive and formalized, and consultations are heavily dependent on the political momentum (HLFP, 2018). Institutional change and adaptation Horizontal and vertical policy coherence is among the most urgent task that governments must address in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the domestic level. This means, mainly, to assign coordination responsibilities to one or more institutions, usually under the responsibility of the central government. In many countries, the coordination mechanisms for the SDGs have implied the need of institutional change and/or adaptation. Relying upon country-specific institutional settings,44 SNGs involvement (and stakeholder participation) can assume different forms according to the quality of inclusion, the responsiveness of central government to the demands of the SNGs, and the nature of the agreed decisions. Three main options are available: a) Creation of a new institution such as consultative councils, inter-ministerial committees, technical commissions or agencies (examples of countries that opted
https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/climate-change/pan-canadianframework-reports/first-annual-report/looking-ahead.html 44 Geographically, formal coordination mechanisms with the central government are more frequent in Europe, followed by Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Africa. In federal countries Belgium, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Sudan, SNGs engagement is restricted to the state or regional level (HLPF, 2018). 43
for this solution are Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Benin, Colombia, Spain, The Netherlands). b) Use of pre-existing institutions such as a National Council for Sustainable Development (Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Moldova) or similar bodies, for example, Economic and Social Councils (Greece), State-Regions Committees (Italy).45 c) Lack of institutionalization. SNGs involvement is channelled through ad-hoc meetings, or sectorial and punctual consultations. Whatever the formal structure these institutions assume, their main goal is to advise central governments about SDG related issues and to coordinate both SNGs involvement and stakeholdersâ€™ participation in the domestic implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Unfortunately, as already discussed in Section 2.4, universal recipes for achieving genuine multi-level and coordinated governance for SDGs localization do not exist. Countries have identified many challenges for the coordination of SDGs-related initiatives among sectoral ministries or agencies. In some cases, the national institution responsible for coordination has neither the power nor the legal mandate to impose itself over (or sanction) actorsâ€™ misbehaviours. Being consultative bodies, coordination institutions usually face difficulty in getting their recommendations accepted or considered seriously enough by the governments. In this regard, previous experiences based on the functioning of the National Council for Sustainable Development advice to capacitate these councils with a stronger influence, requiring that their recommendations receive a response from the government within a stated period, requiring that they be consulted on certain issues, or having their reports reviewed by parliamentary committees or similar structures within the legislature (OECD, 2017). At the administrative level, the SDGs framework is usually introduced in the country administration by the department in charge of regional external relations or international affairs, which usually includes a development cooperation unit. Administrative units specialized in external action and international affairs present useful informative functions across sectorial departments. They usually represent a window over the external world and over the most urgent international issues that athome-technical departments should not ignore. Hierarchically, however, these technical departments encounter serious problems to mainstream the SDGs across their organization, including in sectoral departments. To the extent that the power within a government is dispersed, sectorial departments may have conflicting agendas As part of the Italian National Strategy for Sustainable Development, the Italian regions are, for example, invited to present reports to the national Ministry of Environment, which in turn reports on the SDGs implementation to the Presidency of the Council of Minister. Moreover, regions in Italy participate in the National Council for Development Cooperation, which allows regions to provide inputs for the national efforts on the SDGs. 45
that can undermine policy coherence. The ‘internalization’ of SDGs into the administrative and political structure of governments is a serious ‘political’ task that can have an impact on policy outcomes. As the findings from the analysis of EU Cohesion policy shows, a clear distribution of responsibilities, training activities for civil servants, sharing information and knowledge among administrative units can increase public officials’ ownership and commitment in favor of adapting the SDGs framework to administrative and policy processes.46 In general terms, while it is important for national governments to set country-level goals and targets and the mandates to support them, subnational and local governments are often responsible for the implementation on the ground. For this reason, the coordination of institutions tasked with developing a national strategy for the SDGs must include all levels of government by providing the necessary vehicle for vertical coordination among national, subnational and local levels. Evidence-based findings show that national governments are increasingly recognizing the role of SNGs in that regard (HLFP, 2018). However, at this stage, ‘whole-of-government’ approaches and coordination mechanisms are functioning more as inter-agency or inter-ministerial collaboration, rather than as effective and integrated levels of government. Evidence confirms that multilevel governance mechanisms cannot be introduced easily in national and sub-national contexts (HLPF, 2018). New or adapted institutional frameworks, by themselves, do not guarantee the establishment of novel multilevel governance scenarios.
Territorial asymmetries and differences: consequences on institutional coordination As country-level institutional scenarios vary across nations, establishing inclusive, participatory and effective coordination mechanisms between levels of government and stakeholders can also present different timing and modalities. Recalling the idea of metagovernance presented earlier in this report, the definition of governance scenarios for the localization of the SDGs can indeed entail top-down and bottom-up processes. Factors such as the degree of decentralization, institutional asymmetries in political responsibilities and legal competencies, the number and the characteristics of SNGs as well as the partisan politics between contrasting political majorities may condition the definition of governance structures and who is the “best positioned actor” to lead the implementation of SDGs at the domestic level. In centralized state models, political contexts that emphasize formal vertical relations between the national and the subnational governments may result in the state level assuming a key leadership role. On the contrary, in more mature and developed territorial contexts with SNGs directly elected and with some fiscal autonomy, bottom 46
See for exemple Bachtler et a., 2014; Milio, 2007 and 2014.
up actions are more likely, which may improve the levels of engagement and ownership. When SNGs are poorly endowed and dependent on the central level, top-down approaches can, guarantee higher leadership and greater effectiveness, especially in the initial stages of the process. In the presence of weak administrative and technical capacities at the subnational level, central governments can support SNGs in developing territorial strategies for the achievement of the SDGs. Poorly endowed subnational governments are usually more reluctant in claiming for direct participation, especially in low and medium income countries where decentralization processes have not been fully completed. In these contexts, central governments lead the entire national strategy for the SDGs localization by determining the contribution of each subnational entity to national goals. SNGs are basically passive and line national ministries draft regional (or sectorial) plans that are later uploaded to the national strategy as the sum of the respective regional strategies. Depending on the specific institutional context (and level of development and decentralization), vertical dominance by the central state can be mitigated though. When SNGs present higher autonomy, the joint strategy for the localization of the SDGs can be indeed more inclusive. Countries with incipient decentralization reforms (or with asymmetric distribution of powers among regions) can enter in this group. Ecuador stands out, for example, in its ambitions at the subnational level, with a focus on creating a national decentralized system of participatory planning in order to move towards a pluri-national and intercultural state (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2012). Under this approach, for example, the government of Esmeraldas has developed its Provincial Climate Change Plan with the advice of the central government of Ecuador. Equally relevant, in Cabo Verde the localization of SDGs focuses on the most vulnerable groups as a key integrated strategy in order to ensure that No One is Left Behind. Developed in collaboration with the central government, Municipal Strategic Sustainable Development Plans (PEMDS) represent an example of bottom-up instrument for the local promotion of the SDGs. Evidently, subnational claims for higher levels of inclusion and participation in the domestic implementation of the Agenda need to be justified with respect to a real power to deliver the SDGs. When national leadership is absent, more endowed SNGs may assume the leadership and play a more active and independent role in the localization of the SDGs. In countries where there is no a national SDGs strategy (e.g., the United States), there are political and/or specific reasons for this more autonomous attitude of subnational governments. In some contexts, SNGs might want to move forward and/or faster with respect to the rest of the country. Usually, this is the case of economically wealthier territories, whose constituencies are more sensitive to post-material values such as sustainability and environmental protection. In other 38
cases, instead, subnational governments – with an already proven experience in the realm of decentralized cooperation, for example – might adopt a leading role in order to achieve international recognition and domestic political self-affirmation (e.g., Basque Country, Valencia and Catalonia in Spain, and Wales in the United Kingdom) (Niestroy, 2014). Generally speaking, if contentiousness in leadership reaches disturbing levels, policy coherence may be at risk. Active SNGs that start localizing the SDGs before a coherent national vision has emerged, might have to align afterwards their strategies to the national strategy. Finally, the topic of social and political inequalities associated to the SDGs must not sub estimated. If it is true that SDG are a window of opportunity for sustainable development, most active SNGs that embrace more effectively the implementation of the 2030 Agenda may domestically widen their distance with laggard regional and local governments. Provided that the implementation of the SDGs improves the quality of regional and local policies (e.g., by adopting an integrative policy approach, monitoring mechanisms) citizens in front-runner regions would benefit the most from the implementation of the SDGs while that would not be the case of citizens in the other regions. As a consequence, an unbalanced process of localization of the SDGs may contribute to crystallize or increase structures of regional inequality.
Relations with local governments 47 Collaboration between regions and cities is fundamental for the definition of a shared strategy that takes into account the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda adopted at Habitat III. Cities suffer some of the most serious negative impacts of unsustainable human and economic activities. Urban settlements are often characterized by stark socioeconomic inequalities, social exclusion, extreme poverty, unemployment, poor environmental conditions, and high production of greenhouse gas emissions. Their density and economies of agglomeration make also cities strong drivers for positive change. With nearly 54% of the world’s population living in cities today—and potentially two-thirds by 2030—this critical mass of population has indeed an enormous potential for change in urban policies. Some global large cities are already among the most prominent actors of the localization movement48. According to their size and budget, some of them resemble more national states than local governments. However, many municipalities are still rural, mainly underfinanced and often with limited administrative capacities to deliver Since Goal 11 directly refers to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, many authors have centered on the exclusive role of cities in achieving Goal 11. This report adopts a different perspective, focusing instead on regional governments and their relations with local governments in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 48 New York City, for example, became the first city in the world to report to the United Nations on its progress toward the SDGs. 47
the SDGs. This is the space where the subsidiarity principle can work more effectively.49 The implementation of the 2030 Agenda presents a unique opportunity to strengthen the accent towards urban issues and to promote new forms of cooperative governance and innovative policy instruments. Coordination between regions and cities can promote greater territorial cohesion and an integrated perspective of all the combined impacts of the actions adopted to implement the SDGs (Nrg4SD and University of Strathclyde, 2018). EU institutions (mainly the Commission and the Committee of the Regions) and international organizations of local and supra-local entities (e.g., the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and Eurocities) have joined forces with other territorial organizations in favor of a strong partnership of cities and regions for sustainable development. Institutional coordination between regional government and cities (local and supra-local governments) can serve multiple and valuable policy objectives50. From a legitimacy perspective, local governments are closer to the regional than to the central ones. This proximity enables the definition of a territorial approach capable to capture the interconnected effects of different policies within the same geographical area. Specific urban-rural linkages and innovative governance solutions (for example, metropolitan governance structures) are more likely to be established when coordination between regional and local administration is channeled through formal mechanisms. Moreover, a regional government can provide the necessary support for smaller municipalities in the development of local plans and strategies to implement the SDGs. Capacity-building activities, raising awareness campaign, workshops, training activities, memorandum of understanding and other policy instruments can be promoted and reach larger audience than if performed only by local administrators. Many examples of regional cooperation with local governments can be reported in high income countries as well in low and medium income ones. An illustrative example of such an approach is the regional government of Santa Fe in Argentina, a region characterized by huge imbalances between urban and rural territories. The provincial government developed a strategic plan in partnership with cities to promote instruments for local planning that are aligned to those included in the regional policy. In the development of the urban agenda, the regional government of Catalonia has recently started to define a participatory framework for the inclusion of local governments. For this objective, a multi-sector and multi-actor collegial body has been
In its general definition, the principle of subsidiarity applies when a policy is planned and implemented by the closest level to the respective problem to be solved. Supra-national and national governments only address issues that cannot be best addressed by the local government, community or individual level. 50 In January 2019, the European Commission published â€œTowards a Sustainable Europe by 2030â€?, which outlines its strategy for delivering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 49
created: the Urban Assembly 51, which consists of all levels of government and representatives of civil society and the productive sector (20 representatives of the regional governments, 20 from the local governments and 20 from the business and the civil society). The government of the Basque Country has established an official network (Udalsarea 21) that brings together 183 municipalities of the region in the pursuit of sustainable solutions for common goals. In Brazil, the state of Paraná supported nearly 400 municipalities by providing organized training sessions for the integration of the SDGs framework into local public administrations.
3.3.2. Stakeholder participation Introduction This section presents basic ideas and relevant issues about stakeholder participation in context of the 2030 Agenda. It specifically considers how subnational governments can favor stakeholders’ involvement implementing the SDGs and the creation of effective multi-stakeholder partnerships, potential harms of the localization of SDGs associated to stakeholder participation, the key role of private firms as SDG stakeholders and some Social and Solidarity Economy arguments referred to SDG localization and stakeholder participation. Attaining the 2030 Agenda requires the participation and policy support of stakeholders and citizens in the implementation of SDGs. Researchers and practitioners have emphasized the importance of participatory approaches, especially for designing transitions towards sustainability (Bohunovsky et al., 2011; Vervoort et al., 2014). Stakeholders’ support can be materialized contributing capabilities and financial and other policy resources (OECD 2015, p. 78). 52 Localizing the SDGs can facilitate and make more effective the participation of stakeholders and citizens in the policy process because it increases the proximity for consultation and cooperation between them and the (subnational) government. Implementing the SDGs locally also can strengthen policy support from stakeholders and the citizenry because subnational http://agendaurbanacatalunya.cat/ Stakeholders can be defined as “any group of people organised, who share a common interest or stake in a particular issue or system” (Grimble and Wellard, 1997). Although the “public” often refers to an unstructured and unorganized collection of individuals, some authors consider it as a particular form of stakeholder (Luyet et al 2012). The UN Public Administration Glossary (UN, 2008) indicates that citizen participation "implies the involvement of citizens in a wide range of policymaking activities, including the determination of levels of service, budget priorities, and the acceptability of physical construction projects in order to orient government programs toward community needs, build public support, and encourage a sense of cohesiveness within neighbourhoods." The World Bank (1996) defines stakeholder participation as “a process through which stakeholders influence and share control over development initiatives and the decision and resources which affect them”. 51 52
governments can define policies that target specifically the particular constituencies and communities in their territory. This motivates a higher involvement and visibility in the policy process of local stakeholders, which consider it more relevant for their particular interests than national scope policies, therefore, being more interested in improving their effectiveness and keeping policymakers accountable. Countries can strengthen citizenry and stakeholders’ policy support to the 2030 Agenda capitalizing on the potential of subnational governments to adjust the SDGs to particular territorial circumstances, involve local stakeholders in the policy process and coordinating multi-stakeholder partnerships. These factors can benefit policy effectiveness and legitimacy, resulting in strengthened policy support to the 2030 Agenda. This section of the report examines how stakeholder participation in the context of a localized implementation of the SDGs can result in more policy effectiveness and legitimacy. It suggests that subnational governments can foster and manage better the contributions (resources, capabilities, information on policy preferences) of local stakeholders to the policy process—thus, enhancing its effectiveness—and also achieve that their higher involvement implementing the SDGs results in higher policy comprise, acceptance and ownership sense as well as in more demand for and impact of the processes of accountability—thus, enhancing policy legitimacy. The aspiring goals of the 2030 Agenda and the complex nature of some sustainable development issues require cooperation between stakeholders with specific resources and capabilities and the governments implementing the SDG. The 2030 Agenda recommends tackling the complexity of development issues adopting a multi-sectoral integrated policy approach, which also benefits from cooperating with stakeholders that present complementary capabilities and resources. Cooperation with resourceful stakeholders is particularly relevant when governments face outstanding development problems with scarce public resources. Policy cooperation is organized in “multi-stakeholder partnerships” of public authorities and stakeholders that pool information, political compromise, knowledge, human capabilities and expertise, technology, and financial resources. SDG 17 (“Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development”) recognizes multi-stakeholder partnerships as key drivers to mobilize and share policy resources and encourages coalitions of governments, civil society and the private sector working in an integrated manner for the 2030 Agenda. 53
The more the resources available the lower the risk that the policy has a short duration and, for this reason, is defined aiming at short-term results and with little adjustment to the particular characteristics of the territory. Complex partnerships with multiple partners present the risk of not attaining or 53
Governments should assume a leading role managing these partnerships, coordinating the different contributions to the action plan, balancing the interests of the participants and fostering mutual cooperation to increase the effectiveness of the partnership in attaining its goals.
Subnational governments as drivers of stakeholder participation The localization of SDGs allows taking advantage of the proximity between subnational governments and local stakeholders to raise SDG awareness among these and encourage their participation implementing them. Such proximity is based on the extant administrative relationships between governments and stakeholders (e.g., regulation of private activities, public services provisions, financing and logistic support to civil associations).54 For example, the Barcelona Provincial Council has designed a program to support the local implementation of SDGs using its municipal libraries network. The program aims at raising public awareness towards the SDGs and —more significant— promoting the role of libraries and librarians as local agents of cultural, educational and economic transformation in their community, impacting directly on people’s lives thanks to the closeness of public libraries to many citizens. The SDG targets considered in the program refer to lifelong learning opportunities for all, gender equality and women empowerment, job creation and entrepreneurship, and the fostering of effective, accountable, inclusive and participatory policy decisionmaking. 55 Other structural aspects also favor the capability of subnational governments to create and manage complex multi-stakeholder partnerships: (a) Administrative links with and knowledge of the local stakeholders allows subnational governments to better decide which ones are a better fit to
maintaining a shared vision on how to address the different policy goals preserving its internal coherence. 54 The Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities has assembled 50 practical awareness-raising examples to introduce the SDGs to a wider audience at the municipal level (See https://acor.ro/files/SDGs-in-your-municipality-50-practical-awareness-raising-examples-.pdf) 55 The specific SDG targets considered in the program (named “Municipal Libraries Network Supporting SDGs”) are 4.4, 4.5, 5.5, 5.b, 8.3, 8.9, 16.6, 16.7 and 16.10. It is developed in the context of the International Advocacy Program (IAP) of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), which links libraries in 73 countries to the SDGs, training librarians to become agents for their implementation in their local communities. IFLA’s “Library Map of the World” is an online tool showing services or activities promoted by public libraries that are aligned with the SDGs. See the Barcelona Provincial Council (Diputació de Barcelona) program at https://www.diba.cat/documents/16060163/189231108/The+Municipal+Libraries+Network+Supporting +Sustainable+Development+Goals/def46e8f-393f-489f-9855-cac0c21ddab4
participate in their SDG policies.56 Governments can foster this potential advantage mapping the stakeholders present in the territory, learning how and with whom they collaborate (regionally and elsewhere) and the policy assets they possess. (b) The intermediate dimension of regions (between that of a country and its municipalities) allows regional governments to deal efficiently with a significant pool of policy actors from their territory and choose the most suitable ones to cooperate implementing the SDGs. National governments in countries with many actors can only use efficiently the policy resources present in the country decentralizing the formation of multi-stakeholder partnerships as a part of the SDG localization process. Local governments (except those of large cities) can only access a limited pool of policy agents, which limits their capability to create effective partnerships. (c) The intermediate position of regional governments in the administrative structure of the state (between the national and local governments) is appropriate to assume the coordination of partnerships with a multi-level set of policy actors (e.g., national ministries and research institutions, regional hospitals and business associations, local advocacy groups and governments). Regional governments can learn and gain access to policy actors of national dimension through their administrative linkages with the national government, and to those from other regions through inter-regional cooperation structures. Cross-regional partnerships can capitalize the knowledge of linkages of the partnering regional governments with the policy actors in their respective territories, thus, escalating the chances of finding competent stakeholders. Subnational governments can also draw more stakeholder participation than national governments because of (non-structural) emotional reasons. Citizens in a country may present a particularly close affinity with their subnational governments, associated to a cultural or political identity, a sense of community and social bond with those in the subnational territory, or their active participation in subnational civil associations or political institutions. Such affinity can be reinforced by the circumscribed benefits that the policies of a subnational administration provide to those in its territory as well as by the interpretation of the policy results as a community triumphâ€”despite the generally universalistic character of the 2030 Agenda. Thus, SDGs that require a strong citizenry involvement may particularly benefit from localizing their implementation, particularly if the policy impacts are mainly local.
Information technologies facilitate that national governments also set frequent, close, bi-directional contact with all development agents in a country, and the efficient processing of the information obtained.
Section 4.3 of this report examines SDG monitoring and accountability. Both are challenging tasks because of the inherent technical difficulty of collecting and evaluating relevant indicators. Moreover, governments might be reluctant to set monitoring systems that help in keep them accountable of their policy responsibilities. Therefore, a fundamental form of stakeholder participation consists in demanding the creation of effective systems to monitor the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The materialization of this demand is more likely if it refers to monitoring subnational governments because stakeholders tend to be more motivated both to learn about the effectiveness of polices that specifically impact their particular territory and keep accountable the subnational governments responsible of these.
Localization harms associated to stakeholder participation Localizing the SDGs may induce within-country territorial inequalities associated to the participation of local stakeholders in subnational policy processes. Territories can present different endowments of resources and capabilities possessed by their citizens, civil associations, firms, research institutions and other stakeholders. Crossregional variation can also exist regarding stakeholder contributions to finance subnational policies and development programs (e.g., philanthropy, crowdfunding). Territorial differences in endowments affect the potential amount and quality of stakeholder contributions to implement localized SDG policies and, hence, their impact on the people living in different territories. Territorial inequality in progress towards the SDGs can be offset with inter-territorial cooperation and compensatory actions of the national government. Subnational governments can also differ in their leadership and coordination capability to set up and manage multi-stakeholder partnerships, as well as in their policy independency, which is associated to the amount of public resources they posses to implement the SDGs (e.g., financing, public media, professionals, analytic and strategic documents) relative to those they need to obtain from stakeholder contributions. Subnational governments should have enough leadership capability and resources in order to avoid excessive dependency on resources contributed by private actors and powerful social groups. Otherwise, their policies can be prone to abiding to the particularistic interests of resourceful stakeholders, subverting principles of the 2030 Agenda such as â€œleaving no one behindâ€? or the prioritization of policies impacting the social groups with most urgent needs. Governments should be able to align the interests of private stakeholders with the general public interest and set institutional mechanisms that warrant the interest representation of groups with little political resources and prevent corruption and particularistic cooptation of governments. Localizing the implementation of SDGs may imply a disaggregation of the political 45
power of the public administration and civil society groups advocating for generic cross-territorial public interests (e.g., labor rights, environmentalism, consumer rights), thus, weakening their political negotiation capability versus those of other stakeholders (e.g., large multinationals). More generally, the localization advantage of a higher capability to attend to the policy inputs of local stakeholders is conditioned by the extent of interest diversity within a country, which should be reflected in higher disaggregation of interest representation: the higher the diversity of stakeholder interests within a country and the higher their disaggregated representation the higher the benefit localizing the political mechanisms to attend to that diversity. Some subnational governments are implementing SDG-related practices with an outstanding stakeholder participation component. 57 For example, the Autonomous Province of Trento (Italy) has a digital services platform that, besides allowing a more effective relationship of the public administration with citizens, it allows their participation to improve the quality of public services and the identification of service satisfaction indicators. The Department of Antioquia (Colombia) has a food and nutritional security plan in which the educational-based involvement and empowerment of the target community is a key component. The government of the Department of NariĂąo (Colombia) is strongly compromised with government openness and has developed an anti-corruption toolkit based on international standards of transparency, participation and collaboration that goes beyond national requirements. The regional government of Valencia (Spain) has a program to inform and promote at the municipal level the importance of committing to the SDGs and bring them closer to all citizens, promoting the adoption of comprehensive and participatory approaches and good governance in all development policies. The regional Basque government (Spain) is committed in deepening participatory democracy and political regeneration based on dialogue and transparency and has developed a White Paper with government actions and commitments agreed upon with the civil society that enable citizens to stay constantly informed about public policies. The Department of Colonia (Uruguay) has created community development rural centres that have become for the rural dwellers a place for leisure, education, culture and production and from which a network of rural women has been created that is a platform to empower rural women that also allows their participation in the design of laws, strategies, policies and programs in all issues affecting them. Private firms as SDG stakeholders
57 More information about these programs can be found respectively at www.provincia.tn.it; www.antioquia.gov.co; www.gana.nariĂąo.gov.co; www.cooperaciovalenciana.gva.es; www.irekia.euskadi.eus/es/debates/946?stage=presentation; www.colonia.gub.uy; see also http://www.regionsunies-fogar.org/en/activities/regional-best-practices-database
Private firms are key stakeholders for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda because of the relationship of their activities with many SDGs and the financial and other resources they possess (UNCTAD, 2014). Their contributions to implement the SDGs range from activities of corporate social responsibility (CSR; UNCG, 2013; Kolks, 2016) to the creation of jobs, provision of incomes in the communities where they locate, or the supply of products in “bottom of the pyramid” markets (Prahalad & Hammond, 2002; Kolks et al., 2014). Firms can align their CSR to the global goals of sustainable development pursued in the 2030 Agenda, particularly, regarding issues of environmental sustainability, social inequalities, the amelioration of poverty, and fight against corruption. SDG Found (2017) presents cases of multinational corporations that have aligned their CSR actions to the SDGs (particularly SDG 16) in Latin America and other regions, adhered to international CSR initiatives (e.g., ILO Tripartite Declaration, UN Global Compact) and contribute to foundations active in SDGs that help them to align their CSR and business strategies with the SDGs (e.g., SERES, PVBLIC Foundation, Forética). Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), UN Global Compact and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) have created “SDG Compass”, a guide for business action on the SDGs. Forética has created a guide for the contribution of state-owned enterprises to the SDGs.58 Together with global IGOs and other stakeholders, firms can play a key role strengthening institutions associated to the prevalence of peace, justice and the reduction of social inequalities, as SDG 16 proposes. They can contribute to promote social stability and the fair rule of law, which are key pillars for the progress of the private sector itself. Firms can foster social stability making compatible their selfinterest with sustainable social institutions and fair economic structures. They should refrain from using their outstanding financial and professional resources (e.g., legal and marketing) to lobby for profit interests that undermine the rule of law and generate instability. Together with governments, the private sector must support good governance mechanisms aimed at preventing corruption, which diverts funds that can be devoted to inclusive development, poverty amelioration and other SDGs (SDG Found, 2017). The CSR actions that SDG Found (2017) presents relate primarily to SDG 16 but also to SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15 and 17. They include (a) microfinancing to foster financial inclusion and contribute to the peace building process in Colombia (it focuses on low-income populations in post-conflict municipalities prioritized by the government), (b) funding of NGOs and academic institutions that support local projects that contribute to social peace, (c) fight against corruption, bribery and conducts related with illegal activities associated to money laundering used in financing terrorism, (d) economic growth, increasing investments, generating employment, building inclusive supply chains, (e) strengthened industrial relations and mechanisms of peaceful dispute resolution, (f) sustainable climatesmart agriculture and sustainable supply and value chain (g) welfare programs (h) reduction of social and environmental footprint (i) promoting values and awareness with the mass media and new communication technologies. The “SDG Compass” can be accessed at https://sdgcompass.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/12/019104_SDG_Compass_Guide_2015.pdf. Forética’s guide can be accessed at https://www.foretica.org/guia_practica_contribucion_empresas_publicas_ods_foretica.pdf 58
Firms usually base their core activities in a single or few specific locations in the countries where they operate, which generates positive and negative externalities that, most directly, mainly affect localized communities. Externalities include employment, tax revenues, knowledge spillovers, environmental damage, crowded public infrastructures, labor migration, displacement of local population, diseases. Subnational governments can accomplish an important role defending citizens in their territory from negative externalities generated by firms located therein or elsewhere in the country. They can also arbitrate externality conflicts among municipalities from their territory and represent in front of competent authorities (e.g., the national government, a court of justice) the interests of citizens suffering a negative externality. Social conflict and even violence caused by corporate selfishness associated to issues other than negative externalitiesâ€”e.g., abusive labor conditions, discriminatory hiring, occupational risks and diseasesâ€”are also likely to be territorially localized wherever firms operate. The close proximity of subnational governments to firms operating in their territory allows them to act effectively in the prevention of unethical corporate behaviors and in keeping firms accountable in regards to fairness, the rule of law or discriminatory practices that generate social distrust. Subnational governments can be instrumental in setting multi-stakeholder partnerships with the small and middle size firms in their territory, particularly if the national government focuses on larger multinationals with decision centers located in the nationâ€™s capital or abroad. Together with the business associations in their territory they can manage solutions of inter-sectoral disputes associated to the consecution of a diversified and sustainable economic development. For example, polluting extractive or industrial activities may negatively affect businesses sectors that based their activity on a clean environment (e.g., agriculture, tourism). Subnational governments can play an important role connecting firms in their territory (particularly newcomers) with its educational institutions and research centers, thus contributing to foster innovation cooperation, professional synergies and entrepreneurship. Subnational governments can provide newcomer firms information about the economic structure of the territory, potential local business partners and SDG policies relevant to them. Governments can favor firms that abide to sustainability and social justice principles when deciding about their procurement suppliers and private partners to provide public services. National governments can control competition among subnational governments in regards to providing a favorable business environment (e.g., low taxation, lax regulations) that motivates the relocation of firms from other national territories, which can negatively affect the general national interest. 48
Economic actors operating under the “Social and Solidarity Economy” (SSE) framework pursue a “transformative localization” of the SDGs that contributes to change economic, social and political structures that underpin inequality and poverty (UNRISD 2017). 59 SSE proponents consider that the localization emphasis of the 2030 Agenda responds to the experience evaluating the Millennium Development Goals according to national averages, which tended to fade internal territorial inequalities. SEE assumes the pro-localization paradigm associating the “leaving no one behind” principle to the implementation of localized structural transformations “everywhere and for everyone”. The UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD, 2017) considers that a SSE approach allows avoiding three SDG localization mistakes: (a) Uneven development caused by national strategies that disregard local specificities in needs and conditions and dismiss engaging local stakeholders through mechanisms of local participatory democracy. 60 (b) Fostering governance institutions that lack mechanisms to include a broad representation of social groups, thus favoring the unduly influence of local elites in the implementation of SDGs via formal or informal relationships. (c) Approach to local development ignoring negative externalities over other territories and disregarding the “SDGs for all” solidarity principle, which suggests that all the territories in a country should benefit from the economic activity undertaken in its jurisdiction. Subnational governments are well suited to prevent the two first pitfalls implementing inclusive participatory mechanisms that allow the engagement of a broad representation of local stakeholders in the policy process. The unduly influence of local elites can be restrained raising the decision-making of policy processes from the local to the regional government level, in which local elites may have fewer strong informal ties with policymakers than with municipal ones. Regarding the third pitfall, regional governments can establish systems of inter-municipal solidarity and national governments can also do so in regards to inter-regional solidarity.61
Social and Solidarity Economy refers to “economic activities guided by principles of cooperation, solidarity, self-management, and which prioritize social and, often, environmental objectives beyond the profit motive” (UNRISD, 2017 p. 1). 60 In this regard, Ecuador and Bolivia have institutionalized the collective right of communities to participate in the definition of projects and legislation that affects their lands and environment (UNRISD 2017:2). 61 UNRISD (2017) proposes network-based “interactive governance” mechanisms to coordinate subsidiarity and solidarity across municipalities; such as platforms of multiple actors from different territories that also include SSE organizations politically compromised with inter-territorial solidarity. For example, the Costa Rica’s Asociaciones de Desarrollo Comunal (ADC) is a network of NGOs and SSE enterprises that participates in coordinating the allocation of state resources across municipalities (Utting and Morales 2016). 59
3.3.3. Monitoring and accountability Introduction This section presents basic ideas and relevant issues about monitoring and accountability referred to the 2030 Agenda. It describes the monitoring framework proposed in the agenda and some debates about improving the policy monitoring, particularly in relation to the territorial disaggregation of data. It also considers the difference between monitoring policy processes and policy results and its relationship with accountability and other policy aspects. Policy monitoring consists in obtaining information that helps to improve the effectiveness of the definition, implementation and progress tracking of a policy. Monitoring also allows evaluating policy outcomes and impacts and it is fundamental in the accountability to parliaments and citizens of governments, policymakers and policy implementers.62 Implementing the 2030 Agenda requires effective accountability mechanisms that contribute to foster its praxis, overcoming policy stages of mere political rhetoric. Forms of mutual/collective accountability among partnering stakeholders are particularly relevant given the importance of multistakeholder partnerships in the implementation of the SDGs (OECD 2015, p. 78; Jones 2017, p. 27). 63 Governments should create forums for the assessment of policy progress and promote policy peer-reviews, monitoring systems open to the public and structures for the participation of civil society (foundations, research institutions, unions, business associations) in collective accountability frameworks. The territorial localization of these accountability processes should favor the effectiveness of democratic control and citizen responsiveness because it allows for a more focused institutionalization of The UN General Assembly (2010, p.5) defines accountability as "the obligation of the Organization and its staff members to be answerable for delivering specific results that have been determined through a clear and transparent assignment of responsibility, subject to the availability of resources and the constraints posed by external factors. Accountability includes achieving objectives and results in response to mandates, fair and accurate reporting on performance results, stewardship of funds, and all aspects of performance in accordance with regulations, rules and standards, including a clearly defined system of rewards and sanctions." Accountability mechanisms range from those that incentivize compliance (e.g., peer-pressure, reputation loss, dispute arbitrations) to the sanctioning of failure according to regulated sanctions, market-share losses, or vote losses in electoral processes (Jones, 2017). 63 Collective action theory suggests that the diluted responsibility of broad coalitions of multiple stakeholders may lower policy effectiveness. Benner et al. (2004) indicate that multisectoral â€œpublic policy networksâ€? of stakeholders from public, private and civil contexts must rely on well defined issuespecific accountability mechanisms (professional/peer accountability, public reputational accountability, market accountability, fiscal and legal accountability). 62
accountability processes and higher political and participatory proximity to stakeholders and ordinary citizens to the policymaking process, conferring them more political capability to hold governments accountable (Papadopoulos, 2007). The broad consensus achieved during the negotiation of the 2030 Agenda should help to overcome potential reticence to set effective accountability systems, a process that the Agenda establishes it has to be led by national governments, be based on evidence-based criteria and should engage stakeholders. 64 An international system of indicators has been created to inform on the progress of countries towards the SDGs. This system is a key enabler of the “peer-pressure” and “naming and shaming” mechanisms that—under a “governance through goals” international scenario (Young, 2017, Biermann et al, 2017, see also Jones, 2017 and Persson et al, 2016)—incentivize the policy efforts of countries to implement the SDGs in their territory, as they fear peer disappointment and reputational damage in the international society in case of inertia and non-compliance with the benchmarks that national governments have pledged to accomplish. 65 With a low level of obligation and lack of specific formal enforcement and compliance mechanisms, follow-up and review arrangements become critical for maintaining the credibility of the SDGs and the commitments countries towards the 2030 Agenda. Accountability is a cross-cutting issue in the 2030 Agenda, national governments have the primary responsibility to provide (voluntary) systematic “follow-up and review” of their SDG progress to support accountability to citizens (UN-GA 2015, paragraphs 45, 47, 48). SDG 16 states the target of creating effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels. The relevance of multi-stakeholder partnerships to implement the 2030 Agenda demands forms of “collective accountability” also based on peerpressure and reputational damage rather than enforcement. Importantly, these Established SDG accountability practices are reviewed in Espey et al. (2015) and O’Connor et al. (2016). Jones (2017) considers SDG accountability referred to development cooperation. Beisheim (2015) indicates that global accountability mechanisms are important because domestic parliaments and civil society organizations may lack sufficient political capability to hold national governments accountable. It also indicates that the mutual obligation that states have to each other in regards to universal goals with global effects (such as many SDGs) results in their self-interested pursue of reciprocal monitoring and accountability to avoid shared negative consequences (see also de Renzio 2006 regarding particularly on international aid). 65 SDGs can be seen as a set of norms at the softest end of the ‘hard-to-soft’ continuum because their degree of legalization –i.e., level of obligation, precision and delegation– is low: no hard obligations to achieve the SDGs, in the sense of rules and commitments binding under international or domestic law; the precision of the 17 goals and many of the 169 targets is low, in that they do not unambiguously define a certain conduct, but rather specify vague and aspirational outcome targets; there is little evidence of delegation, in the sense of delegated authority to designated third parties –including courts, arbitrators, and administrative organizations– to implement agreements (Persson et al, 2016; KarlsonVinkhuyzen & Vihma, 2009). Because global peer-based accountability mechanisms are weak on responsibility, answerability and enforceability, their operation should be strengthened at the level of the EU, G20 and other supranational organizations. 64
mechanisms operate better in localized contexts of policy responsibility rather than at the more diffuse national (Jones, 2017). Monitoring framework of the 2030 Agenda The 2030 Agenda defines global and national layers of SDG monitoring. 66 Global monitoring is based on 232 Global Monitoring Indicators (GMIs) developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDGs). Officially into effect since July 2017, GMIs should be tracked in every country and globally reported as part of the SDG periodical reviews at the High Level Political Forum. 67 The Global SDG Indicator Framework recognizes the national ownership of the monitoring process. GMIs rely on data produced by national statistical offices, harmonized to ensure crosscountry comparability and global standards. The Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data has set a framework to discuss, plan and implement statistical capacity building of national statistical systems for SDG monitoring. 68 National Monitoring is based on GMIs, but countries can develop and implement Complementary National Indicators (CNIs) adjusted to their particular national needs and priorities. Each country has the prerogative to decide the number, nature, timing, collection methods, and disaggregation level of their CNIs. These indicators can follow national measurement standards and, hence, may not be internationally comparable. Although likely to be drawn from official data sources, CNIs may also include nonofficial data. CNIs allow some SDG monitoring capability to countries still lacking technical and human resources to obtain GMIs. Persson et al (2016) reviews ideas on how to design and review nationally defined SDGs aligned with pre-existing domestic goals for which political capital was already invested. Based on principal-agent theory The 2030 Agenda defines two additional monitoring layers. Regional Monitoring aims at fostering knowledge-sharing across (supranational) regions using extant regional monitoring mechanisms. It is based on GMIs, complementary national indicators, and indicators for specific regional priorities (e.g., malaria in Africa). Regional mechanisms also contribute to the transmission of data from countries to the global institutions measuring GMIs. Thematic Monitoring consists of specialist indicators reported by epistemic communities (e.g., health, education, ecology) to complement official indicators. 67 GMIs will be yearly refined and comprehensively reviewed by the UN Statistical Commission in 2020 and 2025. GMIs generally apply to all countries (with exceptions, e.g., malaria does not apply to countries in temperate zones, landlocked countries do not report on oceans) and are classified in three methodological tiers: Tier 1, indicators conceptually clear, established methodology and standards, data regularly produced by countries; Tier 2, conceptually clear, established methodology and standards, data not regularly produced by countries; Tier 3, indicators lacking established methodology and/or standards (being developed). 68 More specific international initiatives are taking place to adjust the 2030 Agenda targets to specific contexts. For example, the Agricultural Transformation Pathways Initiative (under the auspices of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network) brings together countries with a diverse set of agricultural contexts under the umbrella of an international coordination team that provides support to develop realistic national and subnational targets in line with the SDGs and build technology and socioeconomic roadmaps to enable countries their attainment. The first case studies conducted were Uruguay, China and the UK. 66
and considering the non-binding character of the 2030 Agenda, they suggest that behavior-based monitoring reporting should be emphasized more alongside outcomebased reporting, meaning that countries would report more on their actions (at national and subnational level) to achieve SDGs, as opposed to use indicator-based reports on the status and progress on goals (the latter of questionable effectiveness in case of development issues for which changes on outcome indicators are not observable on an annual basis). Barnett and Parnell (2016) consider the institutionalization of the multiple scales (global, national, subnational) to monitor the SDGs. Their analysis supports the importance of localized monitoring in the form of cross-sectoral spatial analysis of cities given that (a) some sustainable development issues (e.g., energy futures, food security) are shaped by urban processes that require a particularly close scrutiny and that (b) cities are sites of opportunity and potential because of positive feedbacks between urban development and economic competitiveness, social cohesion, environmental sustainability and responsive governance. Research on cities defines these as bounded and porous spaces with specific territorial and relational forms of agency available only to the place-based embedded actors (e.g., local governments, local businesses, local civil associations). These forms vary from place to place and issue to issue and involve capabilities which appreciation requires sensitive local knowledge (MacLeod and Jones 2007, Cox 1997). The definition of localized monitoring indicators has to consider such variation and benefit from, the nowadays feasible inductive big data analysis on micro-interactions of city life, the consideration of cities “as experimental sites in which new forms of technology, new social practices, and alternative models of economy and governance can be tracked and refined” (Barnett and Parnell 2016, p. 93)—being cautious about whether models based on western urban contexts are relevant to cities in less developed countries. Improving data for better monitoring The 2030 Agenda has fostered the debate of how to improve the monitoring of development policies. Collecting data disaggregated by territories is particularly relevant for the topic of this report. More generally, obtaining better quality and novel forms of data (e.g., disaggregated by territories and vulnerable groups, satellite and phone sourced big data) seems necessary to broaden the scope of traditional statistical analysis of development.69 This requires additional resource commitments for national statistical systems, cooperation for technical support and nurturing 69 Obtaining GMI disaggregated by vulnerable groups (e.g., children, elderly, minorities, migrants) is another key challenge to optimize the monitoring of SDGs. The IAEG-SDGs works to ensure that GMIs are implemented for all SDG targets following the “no individual or group left behind” principle, which requires understanding the needs and circumstances of vulnerable groups.
collaboration between data communities-ecosystems and development stakeholders. Applying inappropriate data (in terms of quality, scope, timeliness, context relevance or intuitive use) to inform the implementation of the SDGs can impair achieving the aimed policy targets despite of having devoted resources both in monitoring and policies.70 A “data presentation revolution” (Woodbridge, 2015; see also Persson et al, 2016) to improve the way of presenting development data to policymakers and stakeholders can improve the applicability of monitoring in the policymaking, policy transparency and accountability, the understanding of SDG progress, and the participation of stakeholders in their implementation. These improvements are supported by new information and communication technologies, visualization methods and citizen science initiatives. “Open data” systems allow monitoring data to become publicly available, thus, contributing to policy accountability. Publicly available information on SDG indicators can also foster policy ownership and participation of citizens and stakeholders. Subnational monitoring systems can use their closer knowledge and understanding of the local policymakers, citizens and stakeholders to improve the way of delivering and presenting them SDG information. 71 Territorial data disaggregation The 2030 Agenda encourages states to lead the territorial disaggregation of monitoring the implementation of SDGs localized at subnational level adjusting indicators to the policies, circumstances and priorities of the territories.72 Territorially disaggregated data can help subnational governments in their policymaking. It also allows identifying within-country inequalities and studying how this can be diminished (a SDG 10 target). The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD 2017) recommends subnational governments to set their SDG monitoring system defining (a) the most adequate indicators for their particular circumstances, (b) The use of data for policymaking can benefit from indicators monitored at frequent intervals, which allows performing longitudinal analysis to better understand SDG trends and providing up-to-date data to policy-making processes. 71 The government of the State of Jalisco (Mexico) has created a strategy of public monitoring indicators that encompasses from their definition to the regular follow up of the achievement of the development goals of the subnational government. Its coordination is carried out through the collaborative work of 35 agencies and entities of the subnational government as well as a Council of Citizens. The monitoring is public and permanent, available on a dynamic platform that uses simple language and analysis tools. It is innovative in regards to open data, specialised citizen participation and accountability at the subnational level (more information at https://seplan.app.jalisco.gob.mx/mide/panelCiudadano/inicio) 72 The Road to Dignity by 2030 (UN-SG 2014) document and the foundational SDG document Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN-GA 2015) (points 77 and 79 in the “Follow-up and Review” chapter) support territorial monitoring with broad and regular multistakeholder participation, building as far as possible on existing national and local follow-up and review mechanism of SDG progress. 70
possible alignments with their extant monitoring activity, (c) the regional institutions responsible for data collection and (d) mechanisms to integrate data from different sources. Subnational governments can perform their own monitoring of the SDGs while still keeping a harmonious coherence with that performed by the national government and other regions in the country. 73 Lack of coherence in monitoring across subnational territories may impair the aggregation of data for the national review reporting SDG progress.74 The nrg4SD asks for UN agencies and global events to support national multilevel SDG monitoring including subnational monitoring elements in their reporting frameworks. It also vindicates the participation of regional governments in the elaboration of the annual voluntary national SDG reviews, particularly in case of regional governments with an extended experience collecting data and analyzing indicators in their territory. Exchange of experiences, peer-review and capacity building cooperation among subnational governments can also foster subnational SDG monitoring. The territorialization of monitoring can be inefficient in countries of small size, little internal diversity across their territory, or with limited resources to set a decentralized monitoring system. In these circumstances it may be more efficient to concentrate monitoring resources in a national statistical office, which still might provide some territorially disaggregated data to subnational governments. The efficiency of territorialized monitoring can be highly affected by limited staff capacity and expertise of subnational governments, particularly in regards to novel forms of data (e.g., georeferenced, big data) and data aggregation from heterogeneous sources. National governments can contribute to the territorial disaggregation of SDG monitoring defining and implementing protocols and reporting on common National governments can develop a national “SDG budget classification” with reference to existing budget classifications to facilitate subnational governments their budget allocations to particular SDGs and targets. This harmonized approach to budget classifications across regions and government levels can facilitate the SDG monitoring and comparisons across subnational territories. 74 nrg4SD (2017) considers Catalonia’s IDESCAT and Sao Paulo’s SEADE best-practice cases of subnational statistics offices collecting SDG relevant data. It also considers a best-practice of multilevel decentralized coordination for data collection and analysis the vertical integration of the three Belgian regions within the national system responsible of SDG monitoring. This integration has been achieved with an adequate provision of monitoring resources and appropriate legal and constitutional conditions supporting subnational governments for the monitoring of SDGs. The decentralized system is aligned with and complements the national monitoring process, contributing to the planning and elaboration of the Belgian voluntary national SDG review. Some German LRGAs have developed "SDG Indicators for Municipalities" initiative to ensure that German municipalities align and track progress towards global targets. Access to the indicator parameters is provided for all cities and municipalities with a population of more than 5,000 inhabitants and for all rural districts (see https://www.bertelsmannstiftung.de/fileadmin/files/Projekte/Monitor_Nachhaltige_Kommune/MNK_SDG_Summary.pdf). The Barcelona Provincial Council (“Diputació de Barcelona”) is creating a battery of indicators adjusted the policies that local governments undertake in relation to the SDGs and to be used by these and by local associations and private entities that participate in their implementation. 73
mechanisms, metrics and indicators necessary to harmonize and coordinate data across territories. This would enable comparability and integration of subnational data and prevents double-counting. National governments can foster the involvement of existing (or newly formed) subnational statistical offices in the planning and monitoring of the national SDG strategy. The multi-level management of SDG monitoring can be an opportunity to improve coordination between the national, regional and municipal governments. SDG 11 (“Sustainable Cities and Communities”) is appropriate to consider possible handicaps of the territorial disaggregation of SDG monitoring. Municipal governments have competencies on many important SDG targets (e.g., housing, transportation, urbanization, water and sanitation, fighting poverty, health, education, climate change). The effectiveness of their policies can benefit from monitoring; however, they may lack enough monitoring resources (technical and professional), having to rely on the monitoring capability of regional and national governments. Territorial monitoring may also clash with the distribution of competencies across government levels referred to a policy issue. For example, some SDG 11 policy issues present an inter-city dimension that requires adopting a policy scope higher than the local. This is the case of rural-urban migration—by definition of regional or national scope—affecting city population growth. It is also the case of solid waste depositories shared by more than one city and, thus, requiring management of a supra-municipal authority. Obtaining some indicators may also require a coordinated definition and integration of data referred to different territories as well as inter-territorial monitoring integration. 75 Territorial monitoring and accountability Policy monitoring and accountability can strengthen policy legitimacy, particularly if citizens and stakeholders play an active role in these processes. Monitoring can provide information on policy results that, if presented to the public (citizens and stakeholders) through “open data” systems, can favor the transparency and public accountability of governments. Presenting the data in a comparative format to allow contrasting policy results across territories in a country allows citizens to benchmark and assess the performance of their subnational governments. Citizens can rely on this comparative information to express their (un)satisfaction with the progress towards For example, computing indicator GMI 11.b.2 “Proportion of local governments that adopt and implement local disaster risk reduction strategies in line with national disaster risk reduction strategies” requires inter-territorial monitoring coordination to (a) define to be “in line with” national strategies and (b) once the data from cities is available, to aggregate it and compute the (national) “proportion”. The Global SDG Indicator Framework takes into account this sort of technical difficulties that can result from territorialized monitoring (e.g., assuming the possibility of scale incongruence, the Framework provides alternative territorial units of analysis, such as the ‘Metropolitan Area’). Moreover, countries can report urban development indicators analyzing a nationally representative sample of cities drawn observing a criterion of regional proportionality. 75
the SDGs achieved by the government of their territory—supporting or penalizing them with their vote in electoral processes or through other forms of political action (e.g., demonstrations, survey responses). Benchmarking policy results should be easier when citizens compare across subnational territories (regions, municipalities) than if they compare policy results achieved in the country with those of other countries. People are likely to be more knowledgeable of political and socioeconomic differences across the regions of their country than about cross-country differences. These differences may affect the policy results achieved implementing the SDG and must be taken into account to assess correctly the progress achieved by the own region (or country) relative to the progress of others. Stakeholders other than citizens (e.g., civil associations, firms, business associations, research institutions) can also compare territorialized monitoring data to assess the performance of governments, keep these accountable and act consequently (e.g., deciding on their philanthropic contributions, publicly positioning themselves regarding the government, supporting demonstrations). As indicated in Section 3.3.2 of this report, citizens and stakeholders may have a closer personal attachment or find more relevant to them the development policies undertaken by subnational governments than those of the national government. Therefore, they may be more motivated to demand and be attentive to benchmarking across territories within the country than to cross-national comparisons. Monitoring policy processes and results Monitoring the SDGs involves examining both their achievement (“outcome/impact monitoring”) and the policy process for their implementation (“means monitoring”). The latter in regards to the policy inputs required and how to program them. The 2030 Agenda relies on both types of monitoring in relation to accountability: assessing the efforts to achieve outcomes (“process or means accountability”) and the effectiveness of these efforts in actually delivering outcomes (“outcome accountability”) (Patil et al 2014, p. 69). 76 Monitoring both “outcomes” and “means” complicates accountability Most SDGs consider the achievement aspect of monitoring; the implementation aspect is considered (in SDG 17 and others) fundamentally referred to measuring policy inputs from stakeholders (Jones 2017; Elder et al. 2016). Some SDGs can themselves be understood as means to achieve higher goals of universal wellbeing (Elder et al. 2016, p.2). The OECD’s “Results based decision-making” approach to development cooperation (OECD, 2016) emphasizes the achievement of SDG results by recipient countries at the expense of evaluating the inputs made by provider countries and their role in achieving those results. Ideally, outcome achievement and input provision should be considered a joint responsibility for which both recipient and provider countries should be accountable. Jones (2007) indicates that emphasizing “outcome” accountability at the expense of accountability for “means contributions” may result in disregarding institutionalized cooperation commitments (e.g., 0.7% of GNI 76
because it blurs the benchmark against which to hold governments and stakeholders accountable. Evaluating the attribution of outcomes/impacts to particular contributed means is itself a difficult endeavor. Indicators can be defined either to act mainly as a management tool for the implementation of policies or to serve as a report card of progress towards policy goals (SDSN, 2015). Whereas the latter are more suitable for accountability and comparative benchmarking, the former are more useful to define policies and would typically have to be adjusted to particular territorial circumstances, limiting their comparability with indicators from other territories and their harmonized aggregation to inform about national and international trends. Implementing the SDGs requires unprecedented resource contributions from multiple stakeholdersâ€”public and private sectors, civil society, foundations (Schmidt-Traub & Sachs, 2015). The complexity in policy contributions made by different stakeholders makes the monitoring policy processes more difficult, which can result in focusing exclusively on policy results monitoring (outcomes/impacts)â€”a solution proposed for development cooperation under the 2030 Agenda (OECD, 2016). Alternatively, localizing the implementation (and monitoring) of SDGs at a subnational level can result in a more reduced pool of stakeholders involved in a policy process than if the policy has a national scope. Therefore, diminishing the complexity of their resource contributions and clarifying the examination of policy responsibilities in the monitoring of the policy process. Moreover, the closer relationship between subnational governments and the local stakeholders should also facilitate the monitoring of their respective contributions to the policy process. The 2030 Agenda should also help in clarifying the attribution of responsibility expected from different types of stakeholders with a more explicit specification of their expected contributions (Jones 2017, p.31). Types of indicators, policy styles and policy responsibilities Policymakers implementing the SDGs may favor simple, single-variable indicators with straightforward policy implications, easy to compile, interpret, communicate, and align with their extant policy and monitoring frameworks (SDSN, 2015; Woodbridge, 2015). A drawback of these particularistic indicators is their emphasis of sectoral policy specificities, which favors a policymaking style that disregards the integration of sectoral policy departments necessary to tackling effectively the complexity of some sustainable development issues. The sectoral policy style favored by that sort of indicators is also detrimental to foster cooperation across government levels with complementary sectoral competencies.
for aid cooperation). Jones (2017) provides a detailed analysis of accountability referred to Development Cooperation in the context of the 2030 Agenda.
Alternatively, a policy style that integrates different sectoral departments and results in comprehensive policies more effective to address complex sustainable development issues needs to rely on multi-functional indicators that inform about the progress of multiple policy goals all at once. This type of indicators also presents disadvantages: (a) they provide too generic information for policymaking; (b) blur which of the cooperating government departments (or government level with complementary sectoral competencies) is to be held accountable for policy results; and (c) the definition of policies may be adjusted to the purpose of increasing performance against the umbrella indicator, ignoring aspects of the policy issue being addressed that are not monitored but should also be part of reaching the policy target (e.g., citizenship participation). National governments that localize the implementation of SDGs may support a monitoring system based on indicators that measure policy impacts, allowing them to fulfill its international compromise of contribution to the global monitoring of the 2030 Agenda. On the contrary, the subnational governments responsible of implementing SDGs may have a preference for indicators that provide insights for the policymaking process. This policy process monitoring should be performed by the subnational government implementing the SDG in order to adjust for the purpose of providing higher effectiveness to its policymaking activity. Differently, the monitoring of policy outcomes for accountability purposes can be done more effectively by a government level other than that responsible and accountable for the implementation of a SDG policy (e.g., a national government monitoring the outcome of subnational policies). 77 Separating the responsibility of implementing a policy and monitoring its results can favor the transparency of the monitoring process. If this separation results in the national government assuming the monitoring of policy results it can also favor the harmonization of indicators across subnational territories, which is crucial both for comparable benchmarking across territories and for the necessary aggregation of subnational policy results to report internationally the countryâ€™s SDG progress. Participation in Voluntary National Reviews The 2030 Agenda encourages national governments to conduct annual Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), defined as "regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven". VNRs serve as the basis for global reviews conducted by the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) and should contribute to sharing of experiences and results for mutual learning and strengthen political legitimacy. HLPF (2018) reports the extent of participation of subnational governments (SNGs) in the elaboration of VNRs presented by 99 countries Research suggests that outcome accountability is often associated with agent mistrust and perceived opportunism and process accountability is more prone to conformity, which may be at the cost of policy impact achievement (Jones 2017 p. 29; Patil et al. 2014, p. 74) 77
in the 2016-18 period: in 45% of the countries SNGs were consulted, in 17% consultation was week, in 30% there was not consultation (4% did not have SNGs). By global regions, SNGs were consulted in 62% of the European countries that reported VNRs during the period, in 53% of Asia-Pacific, 47% of Latin America, and 44% of Africa. 78 The institutional setting, political culture, nature of intergovernmental relations and characteristics of the SNGs seem to determine whether their participation in the VNR process is effective â€”and contributes to the subnational implementation of the SDGsâ€” or mainly nominal. The modality and instruments of involvement in the VNR process also affect the degree of inclusiveness and effectiveness of the participation. Only in a few countries SNG direct involvement is guaranteed through participative consultation mechanisms or permanent participation in intergovernmental and national institutional spaces (the functioning of these normally dominated by the central government and line ministries).79 In other cases, SNG participation occurs as bilateral contact or involvement in high-level taskforce groups (e.g., Bhutan, Dominican Republic, Kiribati, Latvia, Slovakia) or through weak, ad hoc and more occasional channels such as online consultations (e.g., Andorra, Benin, Ecuador, Ireland, Jamaica, Mali, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Togo, Uruguay), direct note to the government (e.g., Australia, Canada), occasional dialogue with a specific ministry (e.g., Cabo Verde, Vietnam) or a mix of these modalities. Reporting shortcomings and delays are associated to the stage of implementing the monitoring of localized SDGs. SNGs perceive the importance of data-based monitoring and show interest in acquiring knowledge on assessment methodology and implementing a reporting process. Nevertheless, even among the most committed SNG associations capacity to deliver is lacking. This seems associated to lack administrative and technical capacities at the local level and insufficient information exchange with the national government regarding the reporting and monitoring framework of the SDGs at national level.
SNGs in the Middle East and West Asia (MEWA) and Eurasia (CIS countries) are either scarcely involved or not participating at all (except in Belarus). Updated information on VNRs can be found at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/vnrs/ 79 For example, as part of the Italian National Strategy for Sustainable Development, the Italian regions are invited to present reports to the relevant national ministry, which reports on the implementation of the SDGs to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Additionally, the Italian regions participate in the National Council for Development Cooperation, which allows them to provide inputs for the national SDG efforts. 78
4. Analysis of legitimacy and effectiveness along the policy-cycle This section of the report develops the proposed analytical framework specifying how the localization of institutional coordination, stakeholder participation and monitoring can contribute to foster policy effectiveness and legitimacy along the four stages of the policy-cycle that subnational governments set to create policies aimed at implement the SDGs in their territory. The section concludes with a summary table of the key arguments presented in the section.
4.1. Institutional coordination in the policy-cycle Institutional coordination is a key policy issue throughout the entire policy-cycle of making SDG-related policies to implement the 2030 Agenda. It is fundamental in guaranteeing policy coherence and alignment when multi-actor, multi-sector and/or multi-level institutions are involved in the design, implementation or monitoring of policies. The presence of coordination mechanisms between levels of government and public administrations facilitate the negotiation and the prioritization of local preferences and their combination with national ones; they also allow improving the selection of adequate strategies and policy instruments, guarantee a better implementation, and, scale up monitoring territorially. Therefore, a local implementation of the SDGs supported by adequate institutional coordination mechanisms allows capitalizing on the closeness between subnational institutions and policy targets to create more effective and legitimate multilevel policies that also present higher policy coherence and alignment with the overall national implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Countries vary in how they need to confront the set of universally agreed SDGs depending on their development level and socioeconomic conditions (Biggeri and Ferrarini, 2014). Similarly, regions and cities in a country can vary in their economic and social circumstances, requiring context-specific solutions and tailored-made public policies: what is just relevant at the domestic level, may deserve greater urgency and commitment at the local level. The involvement of SNGs in institutional coordination mechanisms allows for SDG policies more aligned to local preferences and reliant on local resources, which positively impact on their effectiveness and legitimacy. This section considers how SNGsâ€™ participation in institutional coordination mechanisms along the policy-cycle can, in that way, strengthen the policy support to the 2030 Agenda. In order to gain public support for new development policies, the SDGs framework must be acknowledged by citizens, policy makers and policy delivers. Awarenessraising campaigns constitute a powerful instrument for introducing the SDGs into domestic contexts and, specifically, in the debates of the issues to be prioritized in the 61
policy agenda of a territory. Depending on the targets (citizens, politicians, civil servants) selected in these campaigns a vast array of tool options exist, such as engagement with the media (TV, radio, newspapers), cultural events, appointment of eminent individuals as SDG ambassadors, 80 conducting intensive SDG training for government officials, social media campaigns and the production and distribution of SDG-related materials in national and local languages and for specific demographic groups. Since central governments usually own most budgetary and financial resources, national-based campaigns aimed at increasing awareness among vast and generic audiences can be very effective or, at least, more effective than smaller campaigns established at the local level. Some local and regional governments may lack the necessary knowledge or capabilities (human, technical or financial resources) to introduce and lead the debate on the SDGs among their constituencies. In Cabo Verde, for example, the central government has established a program aimed at ensuring capacity building that focuses on the officials of municipalities and provincial governments, making them to realize that the 2030 Agenda is a powerful instrument for the progressive development transformation of subnational territories. 81 In the European context, an active and close collaboration with central governments appears to be associated to a higher SDG awareness level within regional and local public administrations, especially in regards to public servants and technicians involved in SDGs-related sectors (Platforma, 2018). Finally, compared to individual SNG awareness-raising efforts, campaigns coordinated by SNG associations are likely to reach larger targets and guarantee that no one (especially local governments with scarce resources) is left behind. 82 For example, the Global Goals Municipal Campaign in the Netherlands has achieved that half of its municipalities communicate about the SDGs, exchange practices and participate in negotiations with national ministries.83 The following in this section considers potential positive effects of a system of institutional coordination receptive to contributions from subnational governments on the effectiveness and legitimacy of SDG-related policies with a multilevel component, which should confer a higher policy support to these. The analysis considers those Inspired by the logic of the UN Seventeen SDGs Champions appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the OECD has launched the Inclusive Growth in Cities Campaign, a coalition of Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth. The goal is to provide mayors with the opportunity to exchange concrete solutions to address inequality and empower local governments as leaders in the transition towards more inclusive growth. More information, available at http://www.oecd-inclusive.com/championmayors/ 81 https://www.riopluscentre.org/news/sdgs-in-action-supporting-implementation-in-cabo-verde 82 National SNGs associations can also develop a more cohesive and legitimated advocacy action at the international level. As part of the follow-up of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), a specific section of the â€˜2018 Progress Report on Financing for Developmentâ€™ addressed the issue of sub-national development finance. UCLG and OECD, with the support of the French Development Agency (AFD), have joined forces with UNCDF to create the World Observatory of Sub-National Government Finance and Investments. 83 http://sdgtoolkit.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/The-Municipal-Global-Goals-Campaign-in-theNetherlands-Local-is-not-that-local-anymore.pdf 80
effects at each stage of the policy-cycle process. In regards to the agenda setting stage, institutional coordination can improve policy effectiveness because it contributes to guarantee that policy issues elevated on the (local) policy agenda according to local preferences and policy circumstances as well as to territorial development needs are present in the national SDG agenda or, at least, are coherent and aligned with this one. A system of institutional coordination attentive to subnational preferences and circumstances from the beginning of the policy process supports the “leaving no one behind” principle because it allows uploading the interest of weak territorial actors and subnational governments in the national policy negotiation process. For the smaller SNGs, coordination mechanisms with national governments as well as with more active SNGs or national SNG associations also represent a valuable resource to increase SDG awareness among their constituencies.84 In regards to policy legitimacy, a political system performs better if citizens engage in public debate and deliberation processes and different government levels can openly negotiate on the basis of the ‘debated’ preferences (Dahl 1999). Multilevel negotiations that consider local and national preferences are usually costly and dependent on institutional and political aspects but, as the debate on the SDGs approximates to local preferences, institutional coordination among public administrations allows for a more inclusive negotiation between local and national preferences and interests. To the extent that local and regional governments participate in these negotiations and see their demands attended, their policy ownership and commitment is expected to increase. Therefore, institutional coordination is likely to enhance the perceived legitimacy of SDGs-related policies having a multilevel component. Localizing the debate on national policy priorities involving local politicians and/or regional and local assemblies can result in a better quality debate, also conferring higher democratic legitimacy to the resulting policy agenda. For example, the Flemish organization of local authorities (VVSG) developed in 2018 recommendations for (local) politicians about how to integrate the SDGs into local party manifestos.85 The coordination among local governments contributed to spread these recommendations among all Flemish municipalities (attaining considerable economies of scale) and the debate on the SDGs became localized during the local electoral campaign through the discourses of local politicians to their constituencies. The policy formulation stage of the policy-cycle involves defining policy instruments and selecting institutions on the ground that will implement the SDG-related policies. In terms of policy effectiveness, attaining a transformational development impact at The Government of Nepal notes in a report on the implementation of the SDGs that ‘as the localization of SDGs at the sub-national and local levels is critical for universal, equitable and inclusive outcomes, it is equally important to have political setups at these levels that are willing and capable of handling the development agenda’. Available here: https://www.undp.org/content/dam/nepal/docs/reports/SDG%20final%20report-nepal.pdf 85 http://www.vvsg.be/sites/sdgs/Paginas/sdgsvoorlokalepolitici.aspx. 84
the country level requires policy decision-making to consider both the overall national circumstances and the specific within-country territorial differences. Institutional coordination of government levels contributes to improve the negotiation process and decision making of the policy options that can better address the development issues considered, including their territorial adaptation. Down-streaming the deliberative phase to the subnational level allows a better selection of the institutional design and policy instruments that can more properly function at each specific territorial context. Policy formulation is context-sensitive and its localization guarantees that governance styles, institutions and instruments fit into the particular administrative and political culture of a subnational territory. Institutional mechanisms that enhance coordination among government levels allow the disaggregation of policy formulation aspects according to territorial preferences and requirements.86 Therefore, national policy strategies that include subnational policy preferences in the definition of domestic priorities to achieve the SDGs are likely to be more effective. The following three arguments develop and support this proposition. Firstly, central governments may lack valuable information regarding territorial priorities that subnational governments possess and can be used to improve the definition of the domestic strategy to implement the 2030 Agenda. Secondly, the definition of long-term integrated strategies requires strong dialogue and formalized debate fora. 87 Top-down approaches are appropriate in highly centralized countries or when SNGs are not autonomous or show only limited interest in embracing systematically the 2030 Agenda. National initiatives (as well as initiatives from frontrunner and committed cities or regions) can favor enabling conditions to encourage the involvement of weaker SNGs in policy formulation processes. More participatory and bottom-up coordination mechanisms are likely to be more frequent in national frameworks that rely upon more federalized or decentralized institutional settings. Belgium is usually considered the most advanced case of vertical integration based on a highly decentralized institutional setting and its national SDGs strategy is indeed fully
For example, municipalities in South Africa, in consultation with their national association (SALGA), and under the responsibility of the National Ministry for Human Settlements, participated in the design of the Integrated Urban Development Framework, aimed at unlocking the potential of South African cities. In Italy, as part of the Italian National Strategy for Sustainable Development, the regions are invited to contribute to the definition of the national strategy on sustainable development and to report to the National ministry of Environment which, in turn, reports to the Presidency of the Council of Ministries. 87 A relevant applied literature on EU Cohesion policy claims that SNGs involvement in the definition of long-term planning strategies and documents (e.g., ERDF and ESF Operational Programs) has a positive effect on policy implementation and administrative capacities. The development of the EUâ€™s partnership principle can be seen as the main device to institutionalize European cohesion policy at various government levels. This principle fosters an administrative and political process whereby public authorities and different government levels work out strategic development plans, define operational programs and monitor their implementation in special committees, on the basis of participatory and consensual policymaking procedures (Bauer, 2002; Thielemann, 1998; Jordana, Mota and Noferini, 2012). 86
inclusive its three government levels.88 Thirdly, the institutional change and adaptation associated to localizing the implementation of the SDGs can notably benefit from an approach that guarantees a decisive role of regional and local public administrations. In this regard, the participation of SNGs in National Councils for Sustainable Development (NCSD) with assumed coordination tasks has adopted different modalities depending on administrative and institutional country differences. 89 Institutional coordination of government levels during the policy formulation stage can also enhance the legitimacy of the resulting policies. Subnational policy arenas can be considered as autonomous political systems within the state structure. Because of their size, population and salience providing some public services, SNGs constitute democratic arenas to which local constituencies can attach their preferences also in regards to policy instruments and institutional coordination mechanisms. Policy ownership and compliance is likely to increase when subnational local actors participate in the selection of policy instruments. The participation of SNGs in the formulation of multilevel policies contributes to a root-based and decentralized policy approach that can enhance the legitimacy of multilevel policy-making scenarios. This is so when, by reducing the political space (from national to subnational), this localization enhances the quality of the deliberative phase of the policy-making process. Some political delegation is unavoidable in large political systems, and the larger the degree of delegation, the larger the potential problems of democratic legitimacy associated to the loss of citizens’ authority and control over the delegated issues (Dahl, 1998). Conversely, the localization of the policy process results in higher policy legitimacy because the space of delegation is reduced. In this regard, the experience of the Provincial Government of Azuay (Ecuador) illustrates how a coordinated planning can be achieved involving representative provincial and local institutions. In its Territory Vision 2019, the government of Azuay relied upon the active role of the People’s Provincial Parliament and the Cantonal and Community Assemblies to bring together different government levels in a wide range of sectors. An institutional coordination system attentive to subnational government levels can enhance the effectiveness of the implementation policy-cycle stage. Implementing the 2030 Agenda relies upon many and diverse actors, making the coordination of public For example, by defining Vizier 2030, the Flemish government directly contributed to the elaboration of Belgium’s federal strategy (<http://www.oecd.org/publications/oecd-skills-strategy-flanders9789264309791-en.htm). The “Global Sustainable Municipalities” project implemented in the German Länder of North Rhine-Westphalia between 2016 and 2018 is another illustrative experience of institutional coordination. In a two and a half-year process, 15 local authorities ranging from small and medium-sized to large towns and rural districts have systematically been supported in the elaboration of a sustainability strategy addressing their individual local challenges that is based on the global SDGs framework. 89 For example, the NCSD of Cambodia included among its members all provincial governors in order to improve the coordination between the central governments and the provinces. In other cases, the participation of SNGs has been framed within subnational bodies, with the representation of local level focal points in the NCSD, or through local government decentralized structures. 88
administrations a precondition to reduce implementation failures. Coordination allows to better assess the actors (policy delivers) available across the national territory and to the creation of a knowledge base that provides guidance to execute policy interventions across the country. SNGs possess diverse policy resources, expertise and instruments that can enhance the implementation of SDG-related policies. In medium and high level income countries, SNGs are policy-makers with consolidated experience and great capabilities to execute complex programs, plans and policies. If sufficiently endowed, SNGs possess evident informational and knowledge advantages compared to central governments. They can also mobilize more effectively local resources and build capacities for an effective and responsive policy implementation in partnership with local stakeholders. Sufficiently large and endowed regional or supra-municipal governments can also attain scale economies, “effective size”, and target large specific audiences (compared to fragmented municipal contexts where the administrative scale for investment does not correspond with their functional relevance). Regional governments are also advantageously positioned to regulate sectors characterized by market failure (e.g., public utilities, health, education) and being sufficiently accountable in regards to performing that role. 90 SNGs are also well positioned to implement SDG-related policy educational and cultural actions, reaching large audiences at a relatively low marginal cost. For example, the region of Valencia (Spain) has included the SDG framework in educational and teaching materials widely distributed in schools, libraries and other public venues. 91 A similar approach has been taken by the state of São Paulo (Brazil), where the Secretariat of Education has partnered with the social business to produce e-books with a focus on the SDGs. 92 Institutional coordination mechanisms can also notably improve SDG-related policy implementation by fostering policy innovation at the subnational level, where the application of pilot projects on policy initiatives tends to be easier than if performed at the national level (UNCTAD, 2017). 93 Also based 'contracts' or agreements (i.e., those defining common priorities and co-financing investments in a specific geographic area) have been successfully introduced to improve cooperation and coordination among government levels. For example, the Australian federal government is using ‘City Deals’ to bring together their three levels of government and deliver long-term policy outcomes in cities and regions. Likewise, Colombia is promoting contracts between Local public utilities sectors are usually natural (local) monopolies. According to classical microeconomic foundations and modern public economy theory (Laffont and Tirole, 1994), a public authority should act as Principal/Regulator and define the structure of incentives. Agents are primarily firms responsible for producing the service. Uploading the task of regulatory control to a regional agent, the risk of capture from economic agents can be reduced in relation to, for example, a scenario in which weak local governments assume the role of setting the regulatory framework. 91 https://www.localizingthesdgs.org/library/202/3/La-Comunitat-Valenciana-y-la-implementacin-delos-ODS-a-nivel-local-Una-Comunitat-comprometida-con-la-Cooperacin-y-la-Agenda-2030-para-elDesarrollo-Sostenible.pdf 92 http://www.unprme.org/resource-docs/BrazilBestPracticesHandbook.pdf 93 Some best practices can found at: https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/dtlstict2017d4_en.pdf 90
cities/regions and the national government in order to align national and local priorities and improve implementation. In Spain, the Basque Government has developed a framework for bonds linked to both green and social projects that allows linking these financial instruments to sustainability and social policies interventions. Institutional coordination in regards to the implementation stage of the policy-cycle can also confer higher legitimacy to the resulting policies. Institutional coordination can capitalize on SNGsâ€™ embeddedness in the territorial level where most policy outcomes are expected to have an impact, which positions them favorably to enable territorial and actor-centered policy approaches in the implementation of SDG-related policies, both associated to the fostering of democratic legitimacy. Localizing the implementation of multi-actor policies can enhance policy co-ownership, coproduction and co-responsibility, therefore, strengthening policy legitimacy and the support of (sometimes difficult and costly) implementation processes that may require reforming the policy status quo. The proximity of SNGs to policy delivers and local actors facilitate the combination of resources devoted to implement policies at the territorial level and facilitates reaching a common understanding of the SDGs. Extant administrative relations between SNGs and implementers (more common at the local level) can likely increase their reciprocal commitment to implement the policies. The evaluation stage of the policy-cycle consists in learning whether a policy has achieved its expected outcomes and impacts. Evaluation relies upon a monitoring system for the collection of relevant policy data, which should be local-specific if the policy results occur at this territorial level. Thus, the involvement in policy monitoring and evaluation of SNGs that act as primary policy delivers (e.g., of local social services) improves the effectiveness of the evaluation of multi-level and multi-actor policies. To become effective, their involvement should be coordinated with other institutional levels and actors relevant to the policies evaluated and their evaluation process. In regards to SDG-related policies, it is important to monitor and evaluate goal progress both at the national and the subnational levels, also disaggregating the information by aspects such as gender, age, and ethnicity or geographical location. The coordination among public administrations involved in policy evaluation processes increases policy effectiveness because it clarifies and homologizes their tasks in the processes and contributes to institutionalize evaluation as a good practice needed at all government levels. Often relying upon the previous MDG framework, some SNGs have their own comprehensive monitoring systems.94 In these institutionally endowed contexts (e.g., Many countries have community-based monitoring systems (CBMS) to support the decentralization process, improve local governance, enable better targeting of policy programs and beneficiaries and empower local communities to participate in the policy process. CBMS have been used to monitor achievement of MDG targets at the municipal as well as district level. In the Philippines, for example, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) developed the MDG Monitoring System for the monitoring of the development projects being implemented and progress on the localization of the NDGs. More information available here:
with functioning subnational statistical offices) some policy evaluation is performed by the SNG of the local policies and development progress. Institutionally and financially weaker SNGs lack capability to collect local data for policy evaluation. Strengthening institutional coordination in regards to policy evaluation allows the weaker SNGs in a country to benefit from those more endowed and from the central state, improving their monitoring and evaluation tasks and the overall national monitoring of the SDGs. This coordination needs to be institutionalized, maintained and supported for a long time even in case of political change. Securing a high level of political commitment and ensuring the collaboration between the data-producing institutions of the different government levels should prevent institutional resistance to data-sharing. The lack of coordination among government levels can result in the information gathered by local and regional governments not being used in (or useful for) national monitoring and reporting. Institutional coordination is also necessary to create platforms, portals and scorecards that start and/or deepen the national debate around the SDGs across different territories. Localizing and coordinating policy evaluation activities across institutions can also strengthen policy legitimacy. SNGs can assess as of higher policy legitimacy the evaluation of the SDGs as well as the implementation of these in their territory if they see their territorially disaggregated monitoring indicators considered in the national evaluation process. For example, in the case of the VNRs, SNGs invited to participate in the definition of the country’s evaluation schemes increased their involvement in, and ownership of, the process.
4.2. Stakeholder participation in the policy-cycle Stakeholder participation can result in policy effectiveness benefits associated to improving the design of the policy project and the better understanding and optimization of its implementation using local knowledge (Irvin and Stansbury, 2004) and social learning (Blackstock et al, 2007; Kő et al, 2013; Muro and Jeffrey, 2008) during the policy process. Kanter et al. (2016) considers the integration of academic and industry and farmer local knowledge and expertise in defining a sustainable policy. The stakeholder participation literature also indicates policy legitimacy benefits in the form of better trust in the policy decisions (OECD, 2001) the consideration of diverse interests and opinions (Luyet et al, 2012) and higher public acceptance of policy decisions result of integrating local and scientific knowledge (Reed, 2008; Tippett et al, 2007). Scharpf (1999) indicates that the participatory openness of “network governance” forms fosters policy decisions that enjoy strong “output legitimacy” and higher acceptance because the resulting policies tend to be more appropriate to the https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/2478Institutional_Coordination_Mechanis ms_GuidanceNote.pdf
interest of the targeted stakeholders (but can be questioned by stakeholders that have not participated in the policy process). The localization of the SDGs allows for more proximity of local stakeholders to the policy process, thus, facilitating the incorporation of local knowledge, social learning and complex multiple interests. It also allows for better coordination of cooperative stakeholders, encouraging their dialogue and reciprocal learning (Jones, 2017). SDG localization allows taking into consideration specific subnational cultural, political, legal and historical contexts that may importantly affect the success of stakeholder participation processes (Stenseke, 2009; Abelson et al., 2007; Irvin and Stansbury 2004). This caveat implies that using best practices on stakeholder participation as guidance in different contexts does not guarantee success of the new processes because the local characteristics of the best practice cases might not be replicated elsewhere (Luyet et al, 2012). Kanter et al (2016) study of the successful multi-stake stakeholder participation to define and implement productivity and environmental policy targets in the Uruguayan beef sector indicates that its replication elsewhere can be challenging because the uniqueness of some of the case features: economic and environmental incentives that made sustainable development a top government priority, a tight-knit group of well-coordinated stakeholders, and a strong stakeholder culture of collaboration and coordination. Implementing a public participation process requires the identification and characterization of stakeholders based on their power relations, resources, political influence, implication, interests, salience and legitimacy (Luyet et al, 2012). Stakeholders must be organized into homogeneous groups, assigning them a specific degree of participation that considers the phase of the policy project and the resources available to manage their participation. Involving all possible stakeholders in a participatory process increases its complexity and cost, but initially unidentified or ignored stakeholders can negatively impact the policy project later on. Stakeholder involvement should start from the early stages of the policy process and remain active until its end. Offering adequate information about the participatory process helps to both maintain stakeholdersâ€™ motivation and prevent mistrust and frustration that can result in a failed participatory process. Evaluation of stakeholder participation allows learning how to improve future implementations and assessing aspects of the process (e.g., transparency, representativeness, inclusiveness) its impacts and accountability aspects (Asthana et al, 2002; Blackstock et al, 2007). Luyet et al (2005, p. 215; see also Arstein, 1969; Vroom, 2003; Van Asselt et al, 2001) presents several participatory techniques associated to different involvement degrees: information, consultation, collaboration, co-decision and empowerment â€”the latter consisting in delegating to stakeholders the decision making over the projectâ€™s 69
development and implementation. Localizing the policy process facilitates the task of attributing an involvement level to different stakeholders —which should consider the trust held on them as a relevant factor to decide on their involvement— and the choice of participatory techniques —which depends on local cultural and social norms associated to stakeholder participation as well as on the stage of the policy-cycle. Early stakeholder involvement in a localized policy process aims at achieving three goals: (a) integration of local data and knowledge from local experts and practitioners; (b) fostering policy debate among stakeholders; and (c) generating stakeholder buy-in, which is crucial to overcome social and political roadblocks during the implementation (Kanter et al, 2016). A form of early citizenship participation in the policy process is the “participatory budgeting” institutionalized in municipal governments of some countries from the 1990s, which allows for a direct involvement of citizens in discussing and deciding the policy issues included and prioritized in the public budgeting and the follow up of its execution, hence, allowing for the ongoing accountability of the process (Sintomer et al, 2013). The positive effectiveness and legitimacy effects of local stakeholder participation along the stages of the policy processes that subnational governments undertake to implement the SDGs can strengthen the policy support towards these. Regarding the agenda setting, local stakeholder participation can enhance policy effectiveness by means of providing relevant information about the SDG policy targets that should be included in the policy agenda and the reasons for their prioritization. Stakeholders acting on behalf of the interest of social groups that are themselves defined as policy targets (e.g., immigrants associations, women’s advocacy groups, labour unions) can gain access to the subnational policymaking process more easily in order to inform about their preferred SDG targets, the reasons to prioritize in the agenda their policy demands and their compromise with the process of implementing those targets. Stakeholders that participate in the implementation of SDGs contributing with policy information about development issues (e.g., academic and research institutions, environmentalist groups, health professional associations) can inform policymakers about objective reasons referred to particular aspects of the territory that would justify the inclusion and prioritization in the policy agenda of some SDG targets. They can also inform about how to adjust these targets to the needs of the territory according to the specific data and information about the territory that they manage in their professional activity.95 Addressing the suggestions that local stakeholders have indicated to the subnational government during the definition of the policy agenda would foster their policy The Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI) has as a mission strengthening the role of higher education in society contributing to the renewal of the visions and policies of higher education across the world under a vision of public service, relevance and social responsibility. 95
support to the agenda once this has been set; especially if their particular claims and demands have been included and prioritized but also if stakeholders have seen their suggestions honestly considered during this stage of the policy-cycle. Associating the SDGs with the policy goals and interests of local stakeholders can also enhance their implication in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and, therefore, their sense of ownership towards the subnational policies that result from the policy process. Finally, an honest consideration of the demands of local stakeholders in the process to decide policies aimed at implementing the SDGs confers procedural legitimacy to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which contributes to its overall legitimacy and increases the policy support that the local stakeholders consulted in the agenda setting stage give to the actions of governments to implement the SDGs. The participation of local stakeholders implementing the 2030 Agenda at a subnatinoal policy level can also contribute to improve the effectiveness of the policy formulation stage of the policy process to create SDG policies. Subnational governments can use the information they have about, and their close access to, the stakeholders present in their territory to assess the potential resource contributions and policy support they can provide in the implementation of a policy, thus, making its formulation more adjusted to the policy action that will be implemented. The formulation of policies can also gain effectiveness adjusting it to the policy preferences and suggestions that local stakeholders provided during the agenda setting as well as during the policy formulation. In this latter policy-cycle stage, those preferences and suggestions will be considered with the higher level of specificity required for the formulation of a policy. Reducing the political space between the government and stakeholders from national to subnational allows for more involvement of local stakeholders in the formulation of policies, improving the quality of the policy deliberation, strengthening their policy ownership sense and, therefore, conferring more legitimacy and stakeholdersâ€™ policy support to the policies formulated. The participation of local stakeholders can improve the effectiveness of the implementation of subnational SDG policies. They can contribute with policy assets in the way originally defined during the policy formulation stageâ€”in which they participatedâ€”or according to requests of additional resources and forms of cooperation that the subnational government requests from the local stakeholders as a consequence of the reformulation of policies required by changing circumstances in regards to the policy targets (e.g., unemployment growth, a refugee crisis, a drought that worsens famine). The proximity of local stakeholders to the territory and the communities targeted by subnational SDG policies confers them an important role providing information about the ongoing policy implementation process. They can propose modifications in the implementation to correct detected deficiencies, deviations from the agreed policy goals and the implementation plan, or confront 71
unforeseen side-effects and policy externalities. The ongoing involvement of local stakeholders in the implementation of SDG policies enhances the legitimacy of these and the policy support conferred to them. Policy legitimacy would also positively affected by the better information that subnational governments haveâ€”relative to national governmentsâ€”about the policy preferences of the local stakeholders present in their territory, which would be considered by the government during the (dynamic) policy implementation stage. Finally, the effectiveness of the evaluation of SDG policies can be positively affected by the participation of local stakeholders. Local stakeholders are particularly interested in setting monitoring mechanisms that help in the assessment of policies that specifically target them or the territory where they live or develop their activity. They are motivated to demand these mechanisms, participate in evaluation process of territorially focused policies and use the evaluation results to keep accountable the responsible subnational government. Local stakeholders can participate in the definition of monitoring indicators adjusted to the particular circumstances of the subnational territory and contribute to the data collection process. The implication of local stakeholders in the evaluation of policies can improve its effectiveness both in regards to the rigor of the evaluation process and its accountability consequences. As argued in Section 4.3 of this report, subnational governments tend to be more electorally dependent on satisfying the higher consensus across their territory in regards to the policy demands than national governments. Their involvement in the policy evaluation stage is fundamental to confer legitimacy to the policy process because is indicative of a healthy openness of the policy process towards local policy actors external to the government and the administration, which helps to control the policy process and strengthens its accountability.
4.3. Monitoring in the policy-cycle Localizing policy monitoring can favor the effectiveness and legitimacy of subnational SDG policies, resulting in higher policy support to the 2030 Agenda. A localized monitoring can enhance policy effectiveness providing information that contributes to create policies well-adjusted to the particular circumstances and characteristics of a territory. It can enhance policy legitimacy providing information to local stakeholders about both the subnational policy process and the results of policies particularly significant to them. Localized policies and monitoring implies more proximity between (subnational) governments and the constituencies targeted by these policies, allowing for more effective accountability because local stakeholders can get more easily involved in evaluating the policy process, can better assess the policy results and are 72
more interested in evaluating subnational governments than national governments which policy action aims at a broader territorial constituency. The localization of monitoring and accountability can also foster the effort of subnational governments to implement policy demands associated to the 2030 Agenda. As the political space is more reduced, subnational governments are politically more dependent on satisfying the demands of their constituencies (citizens and other local stakeholders). A national government that fails to satisfy the particular policy demands in one or a few of the country’s regions will be electorally penalized by the constituencies therein, but this sanction may not be determinant for its political fate if it has satisfactory addressed policy demands of other regions. Conversely, it is more likely that a subnational government suffers a decisive electoral penalty associated to the dissatisfaction of the constituency in the territory with the government’s performance. The effectiveness and legitimacy benefits that can result from localizing policy monitoring should be more significant when all the stages of the policy-cycle are localized, allowing for advantages of localized monitoring to ensue and accrue along all the stages—the opposite consisting just in the territorially disaggregated evaluation of the impact of national policies. Given the important human and technical resources necessary to set a policy monitoring system, its localization would be also more costefficient when subnational governments assume a significant amount of SDG policies which effectiveness can benefit from localized monitoring. Hák et al. (2016) highlight the need to perform an expert and scientific conceptual follow up of the SDG targets to operationalize these, particularly, in regards to define a monitoring framework. Being credibility, relevance and legitimacy (the so-called CRELE) the key quality determinants of monitoring indicators the authors stress the importance of defining relevant indicators with a strong “indicator-indicated fact” relation (see also Heink et al., 2015). It would help to avoid wrong information about the level of target-achievement, thus, preventing eroding the SDGs legitimacy. The indicators defined should convey clear, unambiguous messages to decision- and policymakers and also to the lay public. The scientific knowledge used to define them in the context of operationalizing the SDGs, as well as the information they provide, should contribute to the policy process since the early policy-cycle stages in order to maximize the effectiveness of the resulting policies.96 During the agenda setting and policy The approaches to develop indicator frameworks can be classified into policy-based approaches and conceptual approaches (Eurostat, 2014). The former uses sustainable development strategies and other policy documents as reference frame, organizing the framework according to strategic issues and emphasizing the salience-relevance of the assessed theme for policy decision makers; the reference frame of the latter approach is independent from political priorities and based on a model of sustainable development. A rigorous indicator framework should combine a conceptual and a policy-oriented
formulation policy-cycle stages, indicator frameworks can identify and formulate issues and set objectives reflecting sustainable development ideas in such a way as to facilitate a successful operationalization of SDG targets. Indicators can also help in obtaining the desired effects during the policy implementation stage of the policycycle and, with their more common use, to evaluate the success and revise policies. Indicator frameworks defined with expert and scientific knowledge (with academia, indicators providers and statisticians assuming an important policy contributor role) can support policy instruments, thus, fostering to the legitimization of the resulting policies (Glaser, 2012). This sort of scientific and evidence-based legitimacy adds to representative legitimacy forms (e.g., legislative and executive approval, stakeholder interest consultation) and is not common because decision makers tend to apply salience criteria as they usually opt for particularistic or short-term strategic policy objectives (HĂĄk et al. 2016). Expert participation in the definition of sustainability indicators should comply with the current trend that combines top-down and bottomup approaches, i.e., indicators are defined, constructed, and assessed by experts that consider in their choices political and social preferences (Pissourios, 2013). A monitoring framework gains legitimacy when it is respectful of stakeholdersâ€™ divergent values and beliefs, unbiased, and fair in treating opposing views and interests, which secures the credibility criterion (Cash et al., 2003; Parris and Kates, 2003). In regards to the agenda setting stage of the policy-cycle, the subnational localization of monitoring processes can favor policy effectiveness because the local choice of indicators defined and implemented specifically for a territory provide better information about its extant situation regarding potential policy issues to be addressed (e.g. extent and urgency of development needs, number of people affected, local sociopolitical particularities) and the particular actions that can be undertaken in the territory (e.g., convenience of alternative policy interventions, available policy resources). This information can help subnational policymakers to decide the policy issues that need to be included in the policy agenda, their prioritization in terms of importance and urgency, and the amount of public resources to devote in addressing them. The narrower territorial scope of a localized monitoring can also facilitate data disaggregation by vulnerable groups, which provides better information to address their specific development needs. Setting the policy agenda taking into account high quality data evidence obtained with localized monitoring processes reinforces the objectiveness of the decision-making in this stage of the policy-cycle, thus, enhancing the legitimacy of the agenda and the approaches, and both can be helpful for the different stages of a policy-cycle. Methods to assess sustainable development already have been developed, tested and used (Singh et al., 2009).
policies that will be pursue by the government. The use of precise data evidence should favor the consensus among policymakers and stakeholders about the policy targets included in the agenda and their prioritization order. Localizing monitoring allows obtaining monitoring indicators of higher empirical validity because their definition can be better adjusted to the sociopolitical circumstances of the territory than if monitoring is performed with a wider (national) analytical scope. This methodological advantage and the consequent higher precision in the policy decisions can shield policymakers from stakeholdersâ€™ criticisms of the policy agenda defined. The localization of monitoring can improve the effectiveness of the policy formulation stage of the policy-cycle because indicators adjusted to monitor a subnational territory provide better information on how to define appropriate development policies than if these are formulated relying on information provided by more generic indicators created to monitor the diverse development circumstances and capabilities found across the different regions of a country. Localized monitoring can not only examine the development needs of a territory but also the resources and instruments available therein, which consideration is important during the formulation of development policies. Subnational policymakers can design the system of localized monitoring taking into account relevant aspects in the formulation of policies, such as their policy experience, the policy resources and capabilities available in the territory and their preference for a particular policy approach to deal with development issues. Similarly than regarding the agenda setting stage, the legitimacy of the policy formulation process and the resulting policies can be strengthened if localized monitoring indicators deemed as particularly valid to learn about the specific policy and socioeconomic circumstances of a subnational territory are considered to formulate development policies. These indicators confer objectiveness to the decisions made in the formulation process, fostering among stakeholders the consensus that the resulting policies are appropriate to deal with the development issues being addressed. A localized monitoring can favor the effectiveness of the implementation stage of the policy-cycle because its more specific focus on and higher proximity to a specific subnational territory allows for more accurately and quickly detecting relevant changes in the context of the policy during its implementation (e.g., an economic o humanitarian crisis, relevant factors unforeseen during the policy formulation, growth of the targeted population, shortage of the planned stakeholder contributions). These changes would negatively affect the effectiveness of the policy if this is kept as originally formulated. Upon detecting a relevant change, the updated information provided by the localized monitoring allows adjusting the policy parameters or a thorough reformulation of the policy in order to cope with the new policy context. 75
The close monitoring the implementation of a policy also allows detecting (a) possible deviations from the goals consensually agreed during its formulation between (subnational) government and stakeholders and (b) the manifestation of negative sideeffects of the policy. Realizing and correcting these deviations and harms allows preventing the loss in stakeholderâ€™s support to the policy or the rise of detractors. Protecting the consensus regarding the adequacy of the policy is crucial to keep its legitimacy. The close monitoring of the implementation of a policy is also necessary to find out evidence of positive development progress and impacts associated to the policy. This information can increase the support of stakeholders to the policy and, consequently, strengthen its legitimacy. Localizing the monitoring of the SDGs in a subnational territory can favor the effectiveness of the evaluation of policies created for their implementation. A monitoring system adjusted to the development and policy characteristics of a particular territory can provide more specific information to be used in the assessment of policymaking processes and policy results, allowing also a more effective accountability of the government responsible of, and other actors involved in, the definition and implementation of the policies. Monitoring indicators specifically defined considering aspects of the territory allows for a more accurate evaluation of the impact achieved in the territory and the local communities and groups therein, which is a basic requisite for these stakeholders to be able to assess the performance of the subnational government. The presence of accountability processes and the availability of monitoring information enhancing their effectiveness strengthen the legitimacy of policies and the government enacting them. The localization of development policies and their monitoring increases the interest and motivation of citizens and stakeholders in the territory to participate in policy accountability processes, which is a fundamental aspect conferring legitimacy to the policy process.
Table 3. Strengthening the Efficacy and Legitimacy of SDG Policies along Stages of the Policy-cycle: Localization Aspects on Institutional Coordination, Stakeholder Participation and Monitoring Institutional Coordination
Agenda setting (problem definition)
STAGES OF THE POLICY- CYCLE
Which SDG targets should be elevated on the political agenda?
Effectiveness: institutional coordination contributes to guarantee that policy issues elevated on the (local) policy agenda according to local preferences and policy circumstances as well as to territorial development needs are present in the national SDG agenda or, at least, are coherent and aligned with this one. It also allows uploading the interest of weak territorial actors and SNGs, supporting the â€œleaving no one behindâ€? principle. Legitimacy: institutional coordination among public administrations allows for a more inclusive negotiation between local and national preferences and interests. SNGs participation in these negotiations and seeing their demands attended increases their policy ownership and commitment with the policy agenda set for multilevel policies. The localization of debates about national policy preferences improves their quality, enhancing the legitimacy of the resulting policy agenda.
Effectiveness: local stakeholders can provide information about which SDG targets should be included in the policy agenda, the reasons of their prioritization, and how they might be adjusted to the needs of the territory. Legitimacy: local stakeholders give more policy support to policy agendas that have been defined addressing their policy suggestions, especially if they end up including their particular demands; associating their policy goals to the SDGs enhances their implication to implement these and the associated policy ownership; considering the policy demands of local stakeholders confers procedural legitimacy to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Effectiveness: indicators specifically defined for a territory provide better information about its extant situation in regards to policy issues that need to be addressed and the particular policy actions that can be undertaken, resulting in a better defined policy agenda. Legitimacy: the use of more precise indicators reinforces the objectiveness of the decisions that define the policy agenda, enhancing its legitimacy and that of the policies pursued; it fosters consensus about the agenda and shields policymakers from stakeholder criticisms about its definition.
Effectiveness: institutional mechanisms of coordination among government levels allow the disaggregation of policy formulation aspects according to territorial preferences and requirements; policy formulation is context-sensitive and its localization guarantees that governance styles, institutions and instruments fit into the particular administrative and political culture of a subnational territory. SNGs possess valuable territorial
information that can be used to improve the definition of the domestic strategy to implement the 2030 Agenda. The definition of long-term integrated strategies requires strong dialogue and formalized debate fora.
Which policies and instruments should be formulated to territorialize the selected SDG targets?
Legitimacy: the participation of SNGs in the formulation of multilevel policies contributes to a root-based and decentralized policy approach that can enhance the legitimacy of multilevel policy-making scenarios. The localization of the policy process results in higher policy legitimacy because the space of delegation is reduced. Policy ownership and compliance is likely to increase when subnational local actors participate in the selection of policy instruments.
Effectiveness: subnational governments can use the information they have about, and their close access to, local stakeholders to assess the potential resource contributions and support they can provide to a policy, thus, making its formulation more adjusted to the policy action that will be implemented; the policy preferences and suggestions of stakeholders can be considered with more specificity during the formulation of a policy. Legitimacy: reducing the political space between the government and stakeholders from national to subnational allows for more involvement of local stakeholders in the formulation of policies, improving the quality of the policy deliberation, strengthening their policy ownership sense and conferring more legitimacy/policy support to the policies formulated.
Effectiveness: indicators specifically defined to examine a subnational territory provide better information on how to formulate policies adjusted to its development needs; the monitoring system can be design taking into consideration relevant aspects in the formulation of development policies. Legitimacy: localized monitoring indicators deemed as particularly valid to inform the policy definition process confer objectiveness to it and foster consensus around the appropriateness of the resulting policies.
Institutional Implementation Coordination How can the SDG targets be executed in the territory?
Effectiveness: institutional coordination is a precondition to reduce failures implementing multi-actor policies where different administrations can contribute different policy resources; compared to national governments, SNGs possess informational advantages and extant relationships with local stakeholders. Institutional coordination allows assessing the actors (policy delivers) available across the national territory and also in creating a knowledge base that provides guidance to execute policy interventions across the country. Institutional coordination is also necessary when undertaking pilot projects of innovative policy initiatives in a more controlled subnational setting.
Legitimacy: institutional coordination can capitalize on SNGsâ€™ embeddedness in the territorial level where more SDG-related policy impacts occur, positioning them to enable territorial and actor-centered policy approaches associated to democratic legitimacy. Localizing the implementation of multi-actor policies can promote policy co-ownership, co-production and coresponsibility, strengthening policy legitimacy and support of (sometimes difficult and costly) implementations. The proximity between SNGs and local policy delivers and other policy actors facilitates their reciprocal commitment for the implementation.
Effectiveness: the proximity of local stakeholders to the territory and the communities targeted by subnational policies allows them to provide information about their ongoing implementation process to adjust it as needed. Local stakeholders can contribute policy assets for the implementation of policies in the way originally defined during the policy formulation stage or according to new requests of the subnational government consequence of the reformulation of policies required by changing circumstances in regards to the policy targets. Legitimacy: subnational governments haveâ€”relative to national governmentsâ€”better information about the policy preferences of local stakeholders; considering these preferences in the (dynamic) implementation stage and the ongoing involvement of local stakeholders in it positively affects policy legitimacy.
Effectiveness: changes in the context of a policy during its implementation can be more accurately and quickly detected with monitoring processes specifically focused and close to the changing context; a localized monitoring system will provide precise updated information to adjust or reformulate the policy according to the new circumstances. Legitimacy: monitoring the implementation of a policy allows detecting possible deviations from goals consensually agreed or negative side-effects that could undermine the original stakeholder support to the policy or result in the rise of policy detractors; detecting positive development progress and policy impacts may increase stakeholder support to the policy, which strengthens its legitimacy.
Evaluation Have the policies achieved the expected outcomes?
Effectiveness: institutional coordination among institutional levels and actors relevant to the evaluation process of multiactor policies allows capitalizing the involvement of SNGs in that process, since often they act as primary policy delivers in their territory and, therefore, can gather the most relevant information to use in the evaluation process. Coordination among institutions clarifies and homologizes their tasks in the evaluation processes and contributes to institutionalize evaluation as a good practice. Institutional coordination allows weaker SNGs in regards to monitoring and evaluation capabilities to benefit from those more endowed and from the central state,
improving theirs and the overall national policy monitoring and evaluation. Legitimacy: SNGs can assess as of higher policy legitimacy the evaluation of the SDGs as well as the implementation of these in their territory if they see their territorially disaggregated monitoring indicators considered in the national evaluation process.
Effectiveness: local stakeholders are particularly interested in setting monitoring mechanisms to assess policies that specifically target them or their territory; they are also particularly motivated in participating in evaluation processes and using its results to keep accountable the responsible subnational governments; they can participate in the definition of locally adjusted monitoring indicators and in the data collection. Legitimacy: the involvement of local stakeholders in policy evaluation is fundamental to confer legitimacy to the policy process because indicates its openness towards external local policy actors, which helps to control the policy process and strengthens its accountability.
Effectiveness: a monitoring system adjusted to the development and policy characteristics of a particular territory can provide more specific information to be used in the assessment of policymaking processes and policy results, allowing also a more effective accountability. Legitimacy: monitoring indicators specifically defined considering aspects of the territory allows for a more accurate evaluation of the impact that policies achieve in the territory and the people therein, which is a basic requisite for local stakeholders to be able to assess the performance of subnational governments and for accountability processes to be effective.
Source: the authors
5. Conclusion The 2030 Agenda aspires to be transformational in regards to policymaking and policy outcomes. The universal character and inclusiveness of the process that shaped its definition is expected to increase the global legitimacy of the SDGs, hoping that they will be more successful than the MDGs. Stakeholders and public administrations that have been able to introduce ‘their’ goals in the 2030 Agenda are indeed likely to be more supportive, motivated and committed in its implementation. Subnational governments are full contributors to the 2030 Agenda. They participate in the definition of international development goals, implement them in their territory and participate in monitoring their progress. Notably, localizing the SDGs not only refers to implementing the targets at regional and local level. It is also about coproduction of effective public policies with communities and finding solutions at the territorial level to global challenges. Localization relates both to how SNGs can support the achievement of the SDGs through bottom-up action and how these provide a framework for local development policy. Localization fundamentally deals with governance, as it requires institutional coordination among levels of government, effective stakeholder involvement and accurate monitoring for accountability. Since countries and subnational territories differ regarding their initial development situation, governance styles and preferences, common and universal development targets must be translated in differentiated and context-specific policy actions in the process of implementing the 2030 Agenda. The achievement of the SDGs poses the challenge of how to combine different governance approaches successfully “on the ground”. That is, choosing the situational best tailor-made combination of governance styles according to the available opportunities (and limitations) posed by a specific territory and its policy actors. Despite the presence of different guidelines and toolboxes for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, its transformative character is likely to pose important challenges to all SNGs. In some cases, policy change can find resistance and raise confrontation among social groups and actors who are somehow negatively affected or threatened by the reforms. At the domestic level, reforms are generally conducted by central governments, which need to adopt an integrative governance approach that considers all levels of governments, stakeholders’ participation and the interactions among all actors involved in the policy process. Multilevel reforms can be controversial and — when poorly explained— resistance by public officials as well as from citizens and local stakeholders can occur. The analytical framework presented in this report combines a set of elements to guide the exploration of a domestic implementation of the 2030 Agenda that counts with the 81
involvement of SNGs and territorial stakeholders and communities in the creation of policies aimed at a localized implementation of the SDGs. The core elements of the analytical framework are policy effectiveness and legitimacy, which are analysed along the different stages of the policy-cycle. Under the proposed framework, policy effectiveness and legitimacy are considered key drivers of policy support by means of fostering the commitment of public authorities, stakeholders and citizens along the policy-cycle. The report claims that maintaining persistent support to the long-term implementation of the 2030 Agenda can be better achieved if SDG policies are determined according to the preferences of stakeholders. Moreover, political authorities with the power and the responsibility to take action must be accountable to citizens, and policies must be effective in the sense of being sensitive to the demands, needs and contextual social, economic and political characteristics of the territory. The localization of the SDGs positively contributed to the achievement of these aforementioned aspects: legitimacy, effectiveness, accountability and, consequently, policy support. The analysis presented considers how the localization of the SDGs can contribute to improve the effectiveness and legitimacy of three basic aspects of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda: institutional coordination, stakeholder participation and monitoring. The results of the analysis have been summarized in detail in Table 3. Firstly, localizing the implementation of the SDGs with the support of adequate institutional coordination mechanisms allows capitalizing on the closeness between subnational institutions and policy targets in order to create more effective and legitimate multilevel policies coherent and aligned with the overall national implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Institutional coordination contributes to guarantee that policy issues adjusted to local preferences, policy circumstances and territorial development needs are present in the national SDG agenda. Institutional coordination among public administrations also allows for a more inclusive negotiation between local and national preferences and interests, which increases subnational governmentsâ€™ policy ownership and commitment with the policy agenda set for multilevel policies and confers these with higher policy legitimacy. Secondly, localizing the SDGs can facilitate and make more effective the participation of stakeholders and citizens in the policy process because it increases the proximity for consultation and cooperation between them and the (subnational) government. Implementing the SDGs locally also can strengthen policy support from stakeholders and the citizenry because subnational governments can define policies that target specifically the particular constituencies and communities in their territory, and the participation of these in the policy process confers more legitimacy to the resulting policies.
Finally, localizing policy monitoring can also favor the effectiveness and legitimacy of subnational SDG policies, resulting in higher policy support to the 2030 Agenda. A localized monitoring can enhance policy effectiveness providing information that contributes to create policies well-adjusted to the particular circumstances and characteristics of a territory. It can enhance policy legitimacy by providing information to local stakeholders about both the subnational policy process and the results of policies that are particularly significant to them. In this regard, localized policies and monitoring implies more proximity between (subnational) governments and the constituencies targeted by their policies, which allows for more effective accountability because local stakeholders can get more easily involved in evaluating the policy process, can better assess the localized policy results and are more motivated in evaluating subnational governments than national governments which policy action aims at a broader territorial constituency.
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Study commissioned by the Generalitat de Catalunya, through its Agency for Development Cooperation, and the United Nations Development Progr...
Published on Dec 22, 2019
Study commissioned by the Generalitat de Catalunya, through its Agency for Development Cooperation, and the United Nations Development Progr...