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Journal article

How does policy coherence shape effectiveness and inequality? Implications for sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda

In this review, the authors systematically investigate the relationship between policy coherence, policy effectiveness, and efforts to reduce inequality.

Katherine Browne, Adis Dzebo, Zoha Shawoo, Åsa Persson / Published on 22 May 2023

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Citation

Browne, K., Dzebo, A., Iacobuta, G., Faus Onbargi, A., Shawoo, Z., Dombrowsky, I., Fridahl, M., Gottenhuber, S., & Persson, Å. (2023). How does policy coherence shape effectiveness and inequality? Implications for sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda. Sustainable Development. https://doi.org/10.1002/sd.2598

During the formulation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, many promoted policy coherence as a key tool to ensure achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a way that “leaves no one behind.” Their argument assumed that coherent policymaking contributes to more effective policies and supports overarching efforts to reduce inequality. As the 2030 Agenda reaches the halfway point, however, countries are falling short on many SDGs, particularly SDG 10 (reduce inequality).

This study revisits the basic assumptions about policy coherence underpinning the SDGs. The authors systematically screened the peer‐reviewed literature to identify 40 studies that provide evidence about whether coherent policymaking contributes to more effective outcomes and helps to reduce inequality. They find that coherent policymaking did not help reduce inequality in a majority of cases and made it worse in several. These findings challenge the narrative that coherence is a necessary pre‐condition for progress on the SDGs for all people.

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SEI authors

Katherine Browne
Katherine Browne

Team Leader: International Climate Risk and Adaptation; Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Adis Dzebo
Adis Dzebo

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

Zoha Shawoo
Zoha Shawoo

Scientist

SEI US

Åsa Persson
Åsa Persson

Research Director and Deputy Director

SEI Headquarters

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