Press Release

Achieving the SDGs hinges on well-functioning governments and strong partnerships – IGES researchers

Issued by IGES Headquarters
28 July 2015

Yokohama, Japan (28 July 2015) – Whether or not the Sustainable Developments Goals can be achieved will depend on how well governments function and how effectively they engage with various interest groups, according to a new book on achieving the SDGs from the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies.

The book, “Achieving the SDGs: From Agenda to Action,” emphasises the importance of good governance, such as, government effectiveness and the rule of law, and the need to build strong partnerships, among government, business, civil society and academia, as means to implement and realise the SDGs.

“Capable government administrations and legal institutions have been instrumental to alleviating poverty, improving maternal health, and achieving other priorities under the Millennium Development Goals,” said Dr. Eric Zusman, Principal Policy Researcher at IGES and one of the book’s lead authors.

He explained that those aspects of governance – which relate to the quality of public services and the existence of a fair and effective judicial system that makes citizens and corporations abide by laws – mattered the most when it came to achieving the MDGs. However, given the “integrated, transformational, and universal nature” of the SDGs, Dr. Zusman cautioned against simply extrapolating those findings.

The SDGs – which will be adopted by countries in September – will include 17 goals and 169 targets covering a wide range of global issues, such as poverty reduction, food security, gender equality, and environmental protection. They will succeed the MDGs, which expire at the end of this year. But unlike the MDGs, the SDGs will be applicable to both rich and poor countries and they are a key component of the post-2015 development agenda until 2030.

“When it comes to the SDGs, we found that governments need to go beyond strengthening public institutions and legal systems,” said Dr. Magnus Bengtsson, Principal Policy Researcher at IGES.

“All segments of society – particularly, government agencies, industry groups, civil society organisations, as well as universities – need to be engaging in meaningful conversations with one another. For example, researchers can help policymakers translate the global SDGs to fit within their national and local context.”

He added that governments should also approach the SDGs as “a system of interconnected objectives, rather than a list of separate goals and targets.” And this will require more integrated forms of governance that span traditional policy domains and sectors and enable multi-stakeholder engagement, Dr. Bengtsson said. He is also one of the book’s lead authors.

A common theme that runs through the book is the strong linkage that exists between the different SDGs – for example, how poverty reduction requires investments in education, and how renewable energy expansion is important to stabilising the global climate. The book includes chapters on finance, education, water, biodiversity, and energy, highlighting their interconnectedness from a governance perspective.

The book also explains the different forms of governance currently in place, including top-down compliance-driven governance and collaborative governance that employs softer, voluntary engagement. The authors said that “complementarities” between the two forms will be needed to realise the SDGs.

The multi-authored IGES book, “Achieving the SDGs: From Agenda to Action,” is launched today at             the 2015 International Forum for Sustainable Asia and the Pacific. The book is available for download for free via this link: http://pub.iges.or.jp/modules/envirolib/view.php?docid=6063

IGES is a non-profit, research institute headquartered in Hayama, Japan with offices in Kansai, Kitakyushu and Tokyo, as well as in Bangkok, Thailand and Beijing, China. Information on IGES research, networks and events are available on the IGES website: http://www.iges.or.jp/en/

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