When the global development community gathers this week for the UN General Assembly, they will have their hands full as they try to get through an extremely ambitious agenda. Over the course of the week, world leaders will cover a range of topics, including advancing sustained economic growth and sustainable development; a special focus on Africa; maintaining international peace and security; promotion of human rights; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism.
Alongside the formal agenda, organizers are hosting a series of special week-long events to draw attention to the sustainable development goals and the fight against Climate Change.
Watching the buzz leading in to these meetings, it’s been striking to hear strong voices advocating for one issue or another. Take, for example, the debate over which SDG is most important or what targets to track and measure. Should we prioritize poverty eradication over gender equality? Or susatainable energy and climate change over quality education and clean water for all? The reality, as many renowned development experts and evaluators have pointed out is that the international community will need to take a holistic look at the SDGs to ensure was achieve them in ways that create positive synergies rather than negative tradeoffs. This is a challenging task, not just for the number of targets, but also because some of them necessitate thoughtful decisions to make the right tradeoffs.
As independent evaluators, we often run into the same issues when evaluating the World Bank Group’s operations. Like the United Nations and the rest of the development community, the WBG’s mandate spans many, if not all, of the Sustainable Development Goals.
So what have we have learned from evaluating the World Bank Group’s work that might be relevant for the SDGs? In a synthesis paper, Transforming Our World – Aiming to Sustain Development, prepared at the time the SDGs were launched, we reflected on the lessons learned from the earlier Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the opportunities of the future. Among the many lessons we identified, I would like to highlight three.
- The importance of building country ownership
- Creating an environment where countries can learn from each other and tap into the best advice and solutions available globally.
- The need to develop the right instruments as well as realistic national medium and long-term targets and programs. This includes balancing the constructive tensions between national and sector priorities, institutional capacity building and strong partnerships at all levels.
Interested in digging deeper? Below are some of our recent evaluations relating to the different SDGs.
Source: World Bank Group