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22.10.2019 - New DEval report takes stock after four years of the 2030 Agenda

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Discrepancy between strategic aims and practical implementation of the global sustainability agenda in development cooperation

Bonn, 22 October 2019 – The first “Focus Report” of the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) shows that development cooperation faces a multitude of challenges when it comes to implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Around 30 experts from evaluation, research, development cooperation, politics and civil society have contributed to the report, in which they call for closer interplay between digitalisation and sustainable development, among other recommendations. They report on implementation of the Agenda principle of “leaving no one behind”, assess the views of the German public on sustainability, and point out what remains to be done to make the 2030 Agenda a reality.

Discrepancy between aspirations and implementation

Director of DEval, Prof. Dr Jörg Faust: “Four years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we see a discrepancy between strategic aspirations and practical implementation. The reasons for this are manifold: the SDGs make up a very ambitious system of targets with numerous conflicts between the individual goals. Different policy areas must work together in a more integrated way in order to achieve more tangible progress with implementation. And many different actors with contradictory interests come together in international development cooperation, often without adequate coordination among themselves.”

The 2030 Agenda’s new vision of development

Adopted by the United Nations in 2015, the 2030 Agenda with its 17 SDGs elevated sustainability to the guiding principle for global development. It requires that the three dimensions of sustainability – environment, economy and society – should always be taken into account collectively. Measuring development only in terms of single aspects such as per capita income does not go far enough. The DEval report “Shaping sustainability. The 2030 Agenda in German development cooperation” deals with the challenges arising from the Agenda’s new vision of development for development cooperation and its evaluation.

Shared responsibility

The 2030 Agenda is a clear mandate for almost all policy areas in equal measure – not just for development cooperation – in developing, emerging and industrialised countries. However, the DEval report credits development cooperation with an important coordinating role in advancing cooperation among different actors across policy areas. The message is clear: only if individuals, governments and non-state actors all play their part can sustainable development be achieved.

Evaluation as an instrument for sustainable development

Evaluations have an important role to play, since they can provide politics and society with sound information about the implementation of the Agenda. The DEval report contains numerous examples of how evaluations are able to identify key influences on sustainability. In doing so, evaluations not only capture the options for action but also potential trade-offs and limits governing what can or cannot be influenced. Evaluations thus contribute to accountability about the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and, at the same time, enable shared learning based on experience.

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