Alliance to create public Wiki resource to support work on Policy Coherence in Scotland

Alliance to create public Wiki resource to support work on Policy Coherence in Scotland

More than four years on since iNGOs in Scotland last came together to write a detailed report on Policy Coherence for Development (PCD), both the context and the concept have evolved. As such, the Alliance is now leading the development of a new public and open online resource to further debate, encourage collaboration and reach new audiences on this important issue.

Why the Rubik’s cube?

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.

Crucially, this makes Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (PCSD) an explicit SDG target (17.14) for all countries in relation to both domestic and international policy making. Policy coherence as a concept also underpins the whole 2030 Agenda through the notion of the ‘5 Ps’ (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership) - which has a stated aim of balancing the different dimensions of sustainable development.

The Rubik’s Cube has been used by the UN as a simple analogy for visualising the challenge of addressing all five Ps in an integrated manner. If we try to solve only one side of the cube we are unlikely to ever succeed, but by considering all sides simultaneously we can get closer to the solution.

What is PCSD?

At its core, PCSD is a means to an end. Whether the ultimate goal is poverty eradication overseas, a well-being economy, improved environmental protection or long-term economic efficiency, PCSD is critical to ensure that progress towards one goal is not at the expense of another. In other words, PCSD should be the vehicle towards global sustainability, where we meet the “needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

It is therefore both 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. 

With top-level political buy-in to the SDGs in 2015, the Scottish context has continued to evolve toward better policy coherence. The Scottish Government has explicitly committed to improving policy coherence on several occasions, most recently in its inaugural Contribution to International Development Report and the First Minister’s speech at the Alliance Annual Conference 2018.

However, the principles of PCSD go beyond policy making, and should extend to wider civil society, businesses and individuals if we are to have any hope of achieving a sustainable future for all. We need holistic, integrated action to solve global problems such as poverty, climate crisis and environmental breakdown.

Why create a Wiki?

That is why the Alliance Policy Committee has been working towards creating a new online resource on PCSD. This new public Wiki will be editable and shareable by all. We believe that this open and transparent approach to idea creation is vital to encourage multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral buy-in for holistic action. Much work has gone into content creation to date, but once online, the resource will be open to all to develop further. 

We firmly believe that a PCSD approach is transferable to other sectors and is often already on the agenda, albeit using different language. Therefore framing challenges and potential solutions within existing frameworks is important so that barriers created through sector specific jargon can be broken down. The new National Performance Framework (NPF) in Scotland that has been aligned to the SDGs is one such framework. We hope that framing discussions through the NPF we can build links with a range of sectors not traditionally linked to ourselves.

Ultimately, we hope this resource can continue to evolve with our ever changing context and help all sectors of society work together for a fairer world.

Get in touch with Lewis if you want to get involved or want more information on this project.