Painting of footprint
Photo: “Footprints” / M Rasoulov / Flickr

From interactions mapping to policy priorities

A new paper published last week sets out a pioneering approach for setting policy priorities that take into account the complex interactions between the targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This approach pushes back the frontiers of policy analysis. While most analysis of interactions has tended to characterize them as simple trade-offs or synergies between two policy areas, the new approach makes it possible to anticipate how multiple interactions will play out in a whole system of goals, cutting across policy sectors. This can reveal unexpected relationships, as well as the most effective entry points for intervention.

The approach marries a seven-point typology of SDG interactions, first proposed by Nilsson et al. in Nature last year, with network analysis and cross-impact analysis. It uses Sweden as a case study.

“We are confident that this new approach will help policy-makers make more robust policy decisions to implement the 2030 Agenda,” says Henrik Carlsen, who wrote the paper along with SEI’s Nina Weitz, Måns Nilsson and Kristian Skånberg.

To put the approach to the test, SEI and the UN Development Programme will be working directly with selected national governments on applying it to real-world policy-making. These pilots will aim to develop replicable processes, as well as refining the approach.

The open access paper “Towards systemic and contextual priority setting for implementing the 2030 Agenda” was published last week in Sustainability Science.

New IRF retreat series looks at implementation strategies

Next month SEI is co-organizing a retreat for Latin American policy-makers to share experiences and challenges in SDG implementation so far, with a focus on ownership and operationalization of the goals. Twelve countries will be represented.

This will be the second of the new set of policy retreats initiated by the Independent Research Forum (IRF) – the partnership of 10 leading sustainable development research institutes world that first came together to support the SDG negotiations. The retreats are endorsed by the High Level Group in support of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, a coalition of nine countries created in 2015 at the initiative of the Prime Minister of Sweden.

The first retreat in the series took place this weekend, in Monrovia, Liberia.

The Bogota retreat is being organized by Colombia’s Department of National Planning along with SEI and RIMISP (the Latin American Centre for Rural Development). It takes place 24–25 October in Bogota.

“Our aim is to give national planners a chance to talk openly and substantively about their experiences with SDG implementation,” said organizer Karina Barquet. “Like the earlier IRF retreats for SDG negotiators, we want to provide a space for franker, more informal discussions that complement UN-led processes.”

Read more about the new IRF retreats.

Read “Towards systemic and contextual priority setting for implementing the 2030 Agenda”