Tags:

Purpose

“Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) are critical for promoting inclusive sustainable development within their territories, and as such for the implementation of the post- 2015 agenda.”

“Local strategic planning would allow a greater integration of the three pillars of development: social, economic and environmental. Likewise, further integration between urban and rural areas needs to be promoted, in order to foster greater territorial cohesion.”

Post-2015 Dialogues on Implementation (UNDG 2015)

Creating policy coherence, integration and partnerships in the vertical direction among governments, civil society, the private sector and other actors is the essential and complimentary aspect to the horizontality described in Section B4. ‘Glocalizing’ the agenda within a country is an imperative if the SDGs are to be realized with no one left behind in the 2030 timeframe. The word ‘glocal’ means reflecting both local and global considerations[1]. While examples of successful vertical coherence across national, sub-national and local governance scales around are not plentiful, the level of activity emanating from the local and sub-national levels towards achieving sustainable development, quality of life and wellbeing is abundant, in all corners of the globe (Bertelsmann Stiftung 2013c). And with this, we can be optimistic that mechanisms for creating vertical policy coherence and integration can indeed be realized.

Guidance

UNCTs can begin exploring with Member States the various mechanisms available for creating vertical policy coherence, integration and partnerships. The guidance provided in this section is five-fold, proposing the use of:

  • Institutional coordinating mechanisms: to foster partnerships and coordination across levels of government;
  • Multi-stakeholder consultative bodies and forums: to create partnership and coordination;
  • Local Agenda 21s and networks: for scaling up action for sustainable development at the local level;
  • Monitoring and review at the local level: as a means for localizing nationally-adapted SDGs;
  • Impact assessment processes: to ensure that nationally and locally-adapted SDGs are taken into consideration in large public and private development projects;
  • Integrated modelling: to explore the benefits and impacts of key national policies and programs at sub-national and local levels.

Box

MDG Lessons – Localization of MDGs: Factors for Success and the Case of Albania

Looking at the growing body of literature and case studies, four broad factors appear to be critical to the success of MDG localization efforts. These include:

  • Involvement of non-state actors;
  • Capacity at the local level;
  • Coordination across development policies and strategies, and coherence between different levels of government; and
  • Availability of financial resources.

Box

Albania: Strengthening Civil Society and Local Government Cooperation

A rapid shift from a central party system to a multi-party democracy in 1991 introduced new concepts to the national and local governments and citizens of Albania. There was no tradition of citizen engagement in planning processes, and the idea of government being accountable for the services it provides was new.

SNV and UNDP supported local governments and civil society in participatory planning processes in a project with three distinct phases: first, a needs assessment was done; second, a package of capacity development interventions. Among the lessons learned from the initiative were the following:

  • Partnerships for capacity development can only be successful if they put the client’s interest first – in this case, the local governments and CSOs in Albania. Furthermore, a thorough capacity assessment is crucial to develop a full understanding of the needs, and to ensure that any support that is provided is demand driven.
  • A key factor in the success of this project was the willingness of regional and municipal governments to enter into a constructive dialogue with CSOs to engage in more participatory planning processes. The government, however, did not know how to find the right entry points to consult with the people. The CSO networks could provide such entry points.
  • The project approach of working with and relying on local partners (CSOs and CSDCs) to bring in local knowledge and expertise proved very successful in understanding the capacity constraints and strengths of local non-state actors. The choice of civil society partners was crucial. Credibility in the eyes of local government was essential to gain their confidence in the process, which is a prerequisite for institutionalization of consultative mechanisms between civil society and local government. Furthermore, the approach of working with local organizations to support the capacity development of civil society builds confidence among local actors, and invests in the long-term sustainability of capacity development interventions.
  • In Albania, the long-term presence of SNV in Fier and Peshkopi contributed to the success of the programme. Local authorities and civil society had trust in SNV, which facilitated a good start and constructive collaboration with SNV and UNDP.

Source: SNV and UNDP (2009)

Institutional Coordinating Mechanisms

To promote vertical coherence and integration governments can create explicit institutional links between sustainable development strategies and supporting processes at the federal and sub-national levels.

In Austria for example, a common strategy framework was prepared in the form of the Federal-State Austrian Strategy for Sustainable Development (ÖSTRAT) with “the desire to combine the strengths of the state and federal levels in a common strategic and organizational framework (Austria 2015).” A number of vertical coordination mechanisms were put in place under this common framework, including: (i) an Expert Conference on Sustainability Coordinators; and (ii) Working Group on Distributed Sustainability Strategy (Local Agenda 21) which serves as a “platform of LA21 coordinators of the Länder and the federal government for the results-oriented implementation of the Joint Declaration on Local Agenda 21 in Austria (Austria 2015).”

In Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Office for Sustainable Development (ARE) leads an array of horizontal and vertical coherence, integration and partnership mechanisms (ESDN 2012). For more information see the Innovative Case Example below.

Box

Innovative Case Example: Swiss Vertical Coordination Across Federal, Canton and Municipal Levels

Accountability and implementation of Switzerland’s sustainable development strategy uses institutional mechanisms for creating both vertical and horizontal coherence, integration and partnerships:

  • The Federal Council has supreme political responsibility for Switzerland’s sustainability policy
  • The Federal Council givens the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) the task of coordinating the implementation of a sustainability strategy (controlling implementation as well as performing monitoring and evaluation tasks) at federal level and also in collaboration with cantons, municipalities and other stakeholders.
  • The Interdepartmental Sustainable Development Committee (ISDC) is headed by ARE. This committee furthers the Confederation’s sustainable development policy, and serves as a platform for sharing information on the Confederation’s numerous sustainability activities. Around 30 Swiss government agencies affiliated to ISDC perform tasks relevant to sustainable development.
  • In the Sustainable Development Forum, ARE works closely with cantons and municipalities and promotes sustainability processes at cantonal, regional and local level.

Source: ARE (2015d). See also, ESDN (2012)       

Multi-stakeholder Consultative Bodies and Fora

Multi-stakeholder bodies can be leveraged by governments to create vertical policy coherence across levels of governance. The European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN) describes how consultative bodies have served as important vertical coordination mechanisms for sustainable development strategies and their implementation in Europe. It is noted that while consultative bodies “provide some platforms for coordination of policies between the political levels”, compared to the institutional mechanisms described above, “coordination is done more on a case-by-case or ad-hoc basis (either in a specific project of in a specific policy topic) (ESDN 2010).”  For guidance on applying multi-stakeholder approaches, including consultative bodies and forums, see Section B2.

Box

Innovative Case Example: City to City – South-South Cooperation

City-to-city South South Cooperation has emerged as an effective way to share knowledge and solutions and contribute to the localization of the sustainable development agenda. The ILO and the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) have signed an agreement to promote bottom-up interventions responding to local needs to create decent jobs and boost local economic and social development. Recent activities have stimulated cooperation between Maputo (Mozambique), Durban (South Africa) and Belo Horizonte (Brazil) in the promotion of safe and health work environments in the informal economy.

Source: ILO (2013) City-to-City and South-South and Triangular Cooperation, Geneva

Local Agenda 21 Processes and Networks

A Local Agenda 21 is a concept for local sustainable development strategies born out of the 1992 Earth Summit. Through continued and increased support of Local Agenda 21 processes, national governments can realize a tremendous mechanism for creating vertical policy coherence.

Local Agenda 21s have achieved appreciable success in some countries over the past two decades.  The Republic of Korea was an early adopter and by the year 2000 close to 86% of regional government units had adopted a Local Agenda 21, fostered in part by the country’s National Action Plan of Agenda 21 through financial and capacity support and the establishment of the Korean Council for Local Agenda 21 made up of local government officers to better co-ordinate the implementation process (Swanson et al. 2004).

Today an even greater level of success can be witnessed in Spain’s Basque Country.  Udalsarea21 is a network of municipalities in Spain’s Basque country whose mission is to “promote the effective establishment of the Action Plans of the Local Agenda 21 and to integrate sustainability criteria in all the municipal management areas.” In 2000 the vast majority of municipalities had not initiated a local Agenda 21 plan of action; however, by 2010 through effective promotion and networking, 95% of municipalities had approved plans. Cited among the main reasons for the network’s success is “close coordination and alignment of Local Agenda 21 with supra-municipal policies” including the Basque Country’s EcoEuskadi Sustainable Development Strategy 2020 (Udalsarea21 2012).

Switzerland too has a vibrant Local Agenda 21 process (ESDN 2012) where 239 municipalities have sustainability processes ongoing, representing about 35% of the population (ARE 2015d).

Monitoring and Review at the Local Level

Monitoring and review processes are an important mechanism for countries to create vertical policy coherence, integration and partnerships across levels of government.

In the context of monitoring there exists a tremendous opportunity today for localizing The 2030 Agenda through integration with community indicator systems in cities around the world. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cites community indicators as “a vehicle for encouraging civic engagement both through the system’s development process and through action once the indicator system is in place (GAO 2011).” The GAO also noted that such systems “help address community or national challenges by facilitating collaboration of various parties inside and outside of government” and “provide solutions to long-term challenges.” Community indicator systems are created and implemented in myriad ways, including by local government, civil society organizations, or a partnership among both (IISD 2014).

For specific guidance related to monitoring, review and accountability, see Section B7 of this Guidance Note.

Box

Innovative Case Example: Community Indicator Systems

The U.S.-based Community Indicators Consortium (CIC), an international network of local government monitoring systems across North America “seeks bridges that span the gap between community indicators use and performance measurement, providing ways for community groups and governments to coordinate efforts and jointly enhance knowledge about the use of indicators to leverage positive change (CIC, 2015).”

In 2013 the CIC recognized the efforts of the Jacksonville Community Council Inc. in the U.S. state of Florida “as one of the most enduring and impactful institutions in community indicators work (CIC 2013).” Since their inception in 1985, JCCI has released 30 community quality-of-life reports to help inform and catalyze community action (JCCI 2015).

Among the CIC’s 2014 Impact Award Winners was ‘Peg’, the Canadian city of Winnipeg’s state-of-the-art community indicator information system, in recognition of its unique interactive visual explorer, maps utility and indicator stories (CIC 2014, Peg, 2015).

Impact Assessment Processes

Project level and cumulative impact assessment processes represent opportunities for governments to localize nationally tailored SDGs given their place-based scope of application.  

These assessments go by different names in different jurisdictions. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Social Impact Assessment (SIA), Regional Impact Assessment (RIA), Cumulative Effects Assessment (CEA) are but a few of the names and classes of impact assessment processes used by countries around the world to assess the future impacts of proposed public and private sector projects. Criteria used in these assessments could potentially be tailored to test their contribution to the long-term economic, social and environmental goals of national development plans and SDGs.

Integrated Modelling

Integrated modelling approaches of the type described in Section B4 for creating horizontal policy coherence, are also useful for achieving vertical coherence owing to their ability to explore regionally specific impacts of national strategies and policies.

Box

MDG Lessons – Integrating the MDGs into the local development context: Lao PDR

Under the UNDP and UNCDF supported Governance and Public Administration Reform (GPAR) and Service Delivery project – the UNCDF’s District Development Fund (DDF) initiative lays out one structure that facilitated the integration of the MDGs into local development. Building on the core elements of the GPAR programme, the proposed approach for delivering MDG-based services to districts included the following elements:

  • Building legitimacy and commitment through wide awareness in districts about the PM’s Orders on strengthening district administration, and plans, targets and tasks for each district to achieve the MDGs by 2015.
  • Developing capacity and carrying out field assessments as well as preparing local responses including dialogue with kumbans on validating baseline conditions related to MDGs, applying localized MDG planning tools and evidence based needs assessment and facilitating localized action plan preparations and resource allocation.
  • Establishing frameworks for providing and utilizing financial resources, which would cover the provision and use of untied capital grants for expanding MDG-related infrastructure, provision and use of operational expenditure block grants to support MDG service delivery, use of scholarships, pensions, safety nets and social protection mechanisms for vulnerable households and individuals, implementation of the computerized National Accounting System, which will enable central monitoring of expenditures on real time basis, transparency and disclosure with local stakeholders, as well as comparative assessment with peers (other districts) on financial performance.
  • Assigning tasks related to MDGs, and monitoring performance of district staff through clarification and revision of Job Descriptions, implementation of Performance Management and the use of Personnel Information Management System to support the above.
  • Establishing a One Door MDG Service Centre to enable individuals and Village Chiefs to receive information and advice on support available under the MDGs, receive applications and plans for support like pensions, grants and sector services, and make suggestions and complaints on delays and difficulties.
  • Disseminating information and creating linkages with external stakeholders including civil society, creating wide awareness and demand for services through community radio and access to information initiatives, forming village-level MDG Task Forces to address highly visible MDG issues, leveraging and delegating specific MDG-related tasks to CSOs depending on their strength, organizing progress reviews with kumban chiefs.

Source: UNDP and UNCDF, Lao PDR.

Toolkit

Institutional Mechanisms

  • Austrian Strategy for Sustainable Development (ÖSTRAT) (Austria 2015).
  • Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE 2015).
  • Linking Regions and Central Governments: Contracts for Regional Development (OECD 2007)

Multi-stakeholder Approaches

  • See Section B2 for tools on applying multi-stakeholder approaches
  • Benchmarking Workshops: A Tool For Localizing the Millennium Development Goals (UNDP and SIPA (2003).

Local Agenda 21 Networks

  • Udalsare21, Basque Network of Municipalities for Sustainability (Udalsarea21 2012).

Community Indicator System Examples

  • Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI 2015).
  • Peg Community Wellbeing Indicator System (PEG 2015).
  • Governing Regional Development Policy – The Use of Performance Indicators (OECD 2009)

Integrated Models

  • See Section B4.

References and Links

ARE (2015c). Accountabilities and implementation. The Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE). 

ARE (2015d). Facts and figures. The Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE).

Austria (2015). ÖSTRAT federal-state strategy. Government of Austria.

Bertlesmann Stiftung (2013c). Winning Strategies for a Sustainable Future. pp 30. Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung: Gutersloh.

ESDN (2010). National Sustainable Development Strategies in Europe: Status quo and recent developments. ESDN Quarterly Report, September 2010. European Sustainable Development Network. 

GAO (2011). (2011). Experiences of other national and subnational systems offer insights for the United States. U.S. Government Accountability Office.

IISD (2014). GovernAbilities: The nexus of sustainability, accountability and adaptability – Essential tools for successful governance in the 21st century. International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD): Winnipeg. 

ILO (2013) City-to-City and South-South and Triangular Cooperation, Geneva

JCCI (2015). Jacksonville Community Council Inc.

OECD (2007). Linking Regions and Central Governments: Contracts for Regional Development. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

OECD (2009). Governing Regional Development Policy: The Use of Performance Indicators. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Available at: 

SNV and UNDP (2009). Going Local to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals: Stories from Eight Countries. SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and United Nations Development Programme. Available at:

Swanson, D.A., Pintér, L., Bregha, F., Volkery, A., and Jacob, K. (2004). National strategies for sustainable development: A 19-country study of challenges, approaches and innovations in strategic and coordinated action. IISD and GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit). Available at: 

Udalsarea21 (2012). Appraisal of a decade of Local Sustainability in the Basque Country 2000-2010. Basque Network of Municipalities for Sustainability.

UNDP and SIPA (2003). Benchmarking Workshops: A Tool For Localizing the Millennium Development Goals – A pilot project in Bulgaria and the Russian Federation. United Nations Development Program and the School for International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.

[1] See Oxford Dictionaries at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/glocal

Related Blogs and Country stories

Silo Fighters Blog

Preparing for the Future(s): Foresight, citizens’ insights and serious games

BY Ana Dautovic, Marija Novkovic | October 20, 2015

Most people feel that the future is linear: if you perform well in school, you’ll get a job; if you work hard, you’ll be promoted; if you save, you’ll be able to live well through your retirement age, et cetera, et cetera. There is a great level of comfort in the IF → THEN causal link because there are fewer variables, fewer elements that could go off the rails. There is more certainty and we feel more in control. However, through Futures Studies there are alternative futures (possible, probable, plausible, and preferred); consequently, there are multiple development pathways. Professor Jim Dator, the pioneer of modern futures studies once said that “the future cannot be predicted because the future does not exist.” Indeed, the last few years brought forward unfathomable changes with deep, far-reaching ramifications. The global financial crisis, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, nuclear power plant disasters, the rise of extremism, and the ongoing global refugee crisis, to name just a few. The linear path from A (The Past) to B (The Now) to C (The Future) in these occurrences has been more challenging, if not impossible, to pin down. Because of the rapid pace of changes, development organizations are, in fact, asked to be more resilient and more agile so as to navigate uncertainties. We in the UN System in Montenegro were mindful of the fact that the realities of the present day and age require innovation at the highest point of impact – the five-year strategic plan of support to the country. We created a strategy that would infuse our long-term planning with foresight and civic engagement. It consists of three steps. 1. Serious games for empowering new voices in strategic planning Working in Montenegro over the last few years has brought us closer to the country's rising new voices -- a generation witnessing and creating unprecedented changes to the social fabric. Working across think-thanks, academia, statistical office and NGOs, they are disruptive innovators, digital champions and active youth. We engaged them through collaborative workshops, where they learned about foresight, and most importantly, created alternative futures for Montenegro. We are particularly proud to have used a serious game that was custom-made for Montenegro by John A. Sweeney, another member of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies and deputy director of the Center for Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies. The game, beautifully designed to showcase elements of the national costume, served as an enhanced survey tool, prompting the players to ponder on values, challenges, opportunities, stakeholders and actions, which will likely shape the future of the country. 2. Digital engagement fit for the 21st century Civic engagement, particularly through social innovation and online platforms, has been high on UN Montenegro’s agenda. So far, we’ve engaged thousands of Montenegrins and garnered their insights through the massive post-2015 national consultations (12,000 people), the Youth Employment Solutions platform (10,700 people), and uncovered social change heroes through the Open Ideas and Be Responsible campaigns (over 7000 civic reports of informal economy leading to generating public revenue in excess of 1 million EUR). However, public consultations on the next five-year strategic plan of collaboration between the UN and the Government of Montenegro were the new peak we had to conquer. We turned to digital technologies, and moved our serious game into the online space, hoping for a wider outreach. We are both anxious and excited about receiving citizens’ insights into the future! 3. Innovating at the point of strategic prioritization While this summer seemed like one giant roller-coaster journey, we do have few more rides ahead of us! Moving away from traditional planning processes, we are bringing in foresight into strategic planning with the Government. Applying foresight should allow us to unlock a much broader scope of analysis.  We plan to use backcasting, i.e. a forward looking planning process where we start from future(s) scenarios to define programmes that will help make them a reality. This strategic meeting with the government will be as collaborative and hands-on as possible, to inspire everyone to engage more than they would by filling out a survey or validating pre-defined strategic priorities. It will enable considering new horizons of the five-year plan, the integrated nature of sustainable development and human rights, and creating a more resilient society. Thinking critically about preferred futures will lead the way towards creating a more fluid and agile structure so that when challenges arise, we can navigate them. This approach will ultimately promote proactive versus reactive attitudes. In our next blog post, we will share what we have learned so far. Stay tuned, check out the video feature, and join the ride!

Silo Fighters Blog

Now is the best time to embrace the futures: SDGs success depends on strategic foresight

BY Cat Tully | September 28, 2016

2016 is a unique, exciting time for the global development agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are now underway and UN country teams face the huge task of implementing them. So, who will get the best outcomes by 2030? My money is on countries that use strategic foresight. This blog will explain why, and how. Foresight Foresight is a form of strategic planning that enables us to think about futures*. We will never have hard data about what might happen in years to come, but in a volatile and rapidly changing world foresight can provide us with principles for understanding complexity, building resilience and setting direction. Foresight is essential to achieving development goals because it enables us to implement policies based on a thorough and informed approach, as opposed to a set of assumptions. Foresight and the UN As the SDG agenda fires up, we embark on an entirely new policymaking approach, and UN country teams have the exciting opportunity to become leaders in the field of emergent strategic planning. This positions the UN in a unique, if not daunting role: to support communities and countries globally to implement strategic foresight. So how do we begin? Foresight is not something that can be added on top of existing structures; it can’t be thrown in as a tick-box exercise. If we want robust development policies, the UN must embed foresight within UNDAF processes. This requires gradual, structural change in order to be successful. First and foremost, decision makers must make sure processes are emergent. This means that they are participative, with governments acting as facilitators of other actors, as opposed to top-down controllers. In general, there are five key principles of emergent strategic planning that stand any organisation in good stead: Examine the strategic context. Analyse trends and drivers of possible futures contexts, along different time horizons, e.g. one year, five years and 15 years, so it can inform but not be captured by budget and operational planning decisions. Openly engage with a wide set of views. Seek the opinions of the public, especially vulnerable and extremely poor citizens (i.e. the key “beneficiaries” of development policy design). Look at a set of issues with multiple lenses. Diversity and alternative perspectives are important for understanding and identifying weak signals, as well as developing common knowledge and ownership. Identify possible futures and trends. This includes trends that are desired or otherwise, that can be highlighted either through complete pictures of scenarios or snapshots. Build on policy implications. Reviewing what genuine strategic alternatives look like, and enabling resilience as well as pushing for desired outcomes. Being emergent is vital. In our uncertain world where we face big, long-term threats like climate change, traditional policymaking and government structures fall short. The role of government is shifting and in order to effectively plan for the future in a strategic way, governments must move from being commanding controllers to “system stewards”.** The UN plays a key role in making this happen. System stewards facilitate a network of multiple actors with different perspectives: they guide an emergent, inclusive policy-planning process, which effectively plans for and responds to opportunities and risks. System stewardship is the only sustainable alternative to the traditional command-and-control government structure that currently fails to deliver for citizens. The role of the UN in transforming government The SDGs actually mandate the UN to transform the role of government in this way: SDG 16 demands “effective, accountable and inclusive institutions”. This is effectively describing a system stewardship model, but as you can imagine, this won’t happen automatically. Governments must first build the capacity to use strategic foresight to take the longer-term into account, and the UN is in the perfect position to help make this happen. If implemented properly, SDG 16 has the exciting potential to transform the role of government for the long-term. System stewardship will enable governments to navigate an increasingly complex world, whilst keeping citizens at the centre of processes and long-term plans that genuinely work. Ultimately, the success of the SDGs depends on our ability to start using foresight as soon as possible. The UN must seize this intervention point to strengthen governments as stewards, and ensure wider participation is integrated into strategic planning processes. Foresight resources Everything in this blog comes from a recent guide on how the UN Development Assistance Frameworks process can make better use of foresight. It was informed by consultations with development professionals (both within and outside the UN) and provides tools for improving processes and introducing strategic foresight into UNDAF. The guide also includes examples of foresight and other public sector innovations to improve multi-year strategic planning, as well as case studies from UN in-country teams (Laos, Montenegro and Rwanda) who have begun to apply foresight to their UNDAF planning process. To discover how to apply foresight, and to access a list of practical resources, download the guide here. *We speak of “futures” in the plural, because there are many different alternatives for where the world might be in the next five, ten or 50 years. **See Tully, C. Stewardship of the Future. Using Strategic Foresight in 21st Century Governance.  2015.

Shares