No policy coherence? No poverty reduction
July-September 2017
By: Raymond Saner and Lichia Yiu

Policy coherence is linked to the concept of boundary elasticity, which describes a state between permeable and nonpermeable boundary conditions of a system. Such elasticity is considered a basic characteristic of system resilience when dealing with uncertainty and multifaceted disruptions. During Germany’s 2017 presidency of the G20, the authors hope that enabling policies and mechanisms will be explored so that different international organizations can maintain a balance between the two boundary conditions, not least during the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The intensity of globalization, spurred by ideology and technology, has “washed away” many of the former organizational boundaries that existed among international organizations due to political or populist pressure. They sometimes pursue policy paths that are not necessarily central to their mandate, while other actors with a stronger or at least equal claim to an international organization’s time and resources can be sidelined due to a relative lack of influence.

To be sustainable, an international organization needs to create alternative policy spaces that allow for a multitude of voices to be presented in debates, so that policy-making processes can be enriched, rather than hijacked by minority interests. This may be one policy resource or modality that can be further explored. Another possible modality is to create formal policy coordination mechanisms with incentives and disincentives that guide international organizations toward more policy coherence and policy coordination. A scorecard could be established to assess their ability and willingness to cooperate among each other and with relevant nongovernmental organizations, and issue suggestions to G20 donor agencies regarding things such as funding.

A third modality would be to introduce process accountability measures to ensure traceability and transparency on how policies are actually made and implemented. Both organizational boundary elasticity and better governance coherence is needed to ensure better cooperation between donors, G20 member countries and international development groups, not only for the benefit of least developed countries, but also to ensure a successful implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. 


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