published on Global Challenges 13 November 2017
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2015 form a universal and integrated policy agenda to be realized over the next 15 years. One of the targets is the attainment of policy coherence for sustainable development, which requires the individual goals to become interlinked. This article's main research interest lies in assessing how national governments and their competent ministries interpret and strive to implement the target of policy coherence for sustainable development. Drawing on the Voluntary National Reviews submitted in 2016 and 2017 by six countries, this study shows that at the national level, the links among the different goals and the idea of policy integration are subject to divergent interpretations. The differences observed do not stem from the interlinkages of the SDGs as defined by the United Nations, neither do they result from different levels of income or degree of political centralization. Instead, the respective domestic policy-making processes are likely to explain the implementation strategies adopted by the individual states. For example, the implementation approach adopted by the government of Turkey suggests that path-dependency is critical, whereas the Colombian approach consists of defining new policy measures and institutional arrangements.