Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development

Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development

This page summarises the concept of policy coherence and links to our main our main body of work on this issue -  an open and editable Wiki that you can access here. For our previous reports on this issue, please click on the relevant links below.


Check out the PCSD Wiki

What is Policy Coherence?

Dealing with the monumental challenges of our time requires us to think holistically about local problems and crucially, see their connection to broader global issues. Making real progress on solving challenges such as poverty and climate breakdown will require us to change our approach and become better at working together.

Policy Coherence at its simplest is about just that - making sure that actions taken by one part of government, or other sectors within society, do not undermine the positive actions taken by others; and preferably, support and reinforce one another.

For the international development sector, the concept of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) emerged from the realisation that non-aid policies of donors affect developing countries and should not distract but rather be supportive of international development goals.

However, the advent of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 shifted the concept of PCD from solely an international development one, to a universal one. What was once solely about how domestic policies affect outcomes in developing countries, now extends to how any policy, domestic or otherwise affects sustainable development outcomes everywhere, both now and into the future.

There is now a commonly accepted definition that is vital to achieving both domestic and international sustainable development outcomes:

“An approach and policy tool to integrate the economic, social, environmental and governance dimensions of sustainable development at all stages of domestic and international policy making.”(OECD, 2019)

Given the complex interconnections between economic, social and environmental challenges that the SDGs aim to address – as well as their multiple global-domestic linkages – policy coherence takes on a whole new dimension.

What's happening in Scotland on this issue?

In 2013-14, the Alliance  produced two, comprehensive reports on Policy Coherence for Development (PCD). These reports were:

Both these reports made a number of recommendations, most of which are still valid today. 

Since then, the Scottish Government has repeatedly committed to improving policy coherence and has been working with the Alliance and its members on a number of thematic issues related to policy coherence.

Most recently, in September 2019, Ben Macpherson MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development announced that a new Inter-Ministerial Group will take forward the Scottish Government’s commitment to policy coherence for sustainable development. This has been a key recommendation to help improve policy coherence in Scotland for a number of years.

For this group to be purposeful, a variety of voices and stakeholders from a range of different sectors should aim to influence its agenda. Get in touch with us to get involved with this work.

Improving Policy Coherence in Scotland Wiki

Involvement and partnership are necessary components for genuine progress on policy coherence for sustainable development. To this end, the Alliance has created an online resource that is public, editable and shareable. This resource is a Wiki and is deliberately designed to be open, transparent and evolving. For it to be useful, we think it needs to be shaped and developed by both government officials and civil society from a range of domestic and international sectors.

Ultimately, improving policy coherence benefits everyone. Whether the ultimate goal is poverty eradication at home or overseas, a well-being economy, improved environmental protection or long-term economic efficiency, improving policy coherence is critical to ensuring that progress towards one goal is not at the expense of others.

An open approach to idea creation like this is vital to encourage multi-stakeholder and multi-sector buy-in for holistic, whole-of-government (and even whole-of-society) action.

Every part of this Wiki site should be considered a 'work in progress' and should evolve over time. It can be added to and edited by anyone who visits the site.

...So, get involved, click the link below!

Check out the Wiki


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