Executive summary

Achieving sustainable and resilient societies everywhere is humankind’s collective test for the 21st century. Development challenges have become increasingly complex, intertwined and unpredictable. The framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offers a shared blueprint to navigate the uncertainty and interdependence that characterise our era. And realigning development co-operation to focus fully on pursuing SDG results is a precondition to bolster its collective impact.

Using the SDG framework in development co-operation offers many co-benefits, including the ability to navigate complex multidimensional challenges using the same language and data, building partnerships around a consensus agenda, and maximising the impact and value for money of every investment. But as of 2021, these benefits remain unrealised, as most partners have yet to reorient development co-operation towards SDG results as political, technical and organisational challenges have delayed these processes.

This series of studies suggests that a successful alignment of development co-operation to SDG results is built on three broad foundations. First, successful “SDG adopters” promote the achievement of SDG results from the top and invest in systems and management practices to support the alignment process. Second, SDG adopters respect and invest in partner country ownership, synchronising and adapting their development co-operation processes with their partner countries while supporting their own SDG transition. Finally, understanding that no country, ministry or agency can deliver on the SDGs alone, successful SDG adopters proactively partner with other country-level institutions and peers around specific SDG results. The pandemic can be used to trigger the organisational transformation that the SDGs require.

This report describes six strategic actions that would help development co-operation leaders, managers and policy makers manage this transition successfully. In brief:

  • Action 1: Promote the achievement of SDG results from the top.

  • Action 2: Invest in organisational transformation needed for the SDGs.

  • Action 3: Adapt SDG alignment strategies to each country context.

  • Action 4: Support countries in SDG mainstreaming efforts.

  • Action 5: Invest in country-led SDG data to jointly monitor progress towards the SDGs.

  • Action 6: Build partnerships with others around specific SDG results.


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This publication was produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

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The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

Note by Turkey
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Note by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Union
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