Policy coherence for sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa


Cross-sectoral approaches to policy development are essential to meeting the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which define the post-2015 development agenda. Coherent policy development requires strategic, logical assessment of interlinkages, trade-offs and opportunities within and across sectors and over spatial and temporal scales. However, for many countries realising policy coherence is challenging. The research in southern Africa that this brief draws on highlights differing degrees of coherence, from partial to weak. It makes recommendations on improving coherence for national governments, sectoral ministries, donors, and non-governmental organisations.

Key messages

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change emphasise the need for coherent policies across sectors.
  • Coherence faces many challenges, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and in the critical sectors of water, energy and food. Achieving sustainable development in these sectors requires policies that are closely aligned across sectors and with international commitments.
  • With the forthcoming review of countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement, and implementation of the SDGs, there are opportunities to place coherence at the core of policy.
  • National development strategies or policies should be reviewed, updated or developed to explicitly recognise climate change and the SDGs as key objectives, directed by detailed roadmaps.
  • For coherence to translate into effective action, policies require clarity, stability and credibility over long periods, and across institutions and implementers, to support the long-term resource allocation, investment and action needed.

This work was carried out as part of the Future Climate for Africa UMFULA project.

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