Topic C: Towards integrated and inclusive governance and capable institutions at all levels

The sectoral structure of government agencies is no longer adequate to deal with the complex challenges of the 21st century.

Novel modes of governance, capabilities, policies and the formation of actors of change on local, national and global levels are required to support the achievement of the SDGs. To recognize the systemic and holistic nature of sustainability, there is a need for cross-sector coordination and more integrated, inclusive, accountable, adaptive and innovative governance structures at all levels. Building strong political institutions at the subnational, national and global levels is thus crucial for an integrated and peaceful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Giving the important role of governance in accelerating the societal transformations, it is critical to mobilize research, to build knowledge synthesis on types and characteristics of transformative governance arrangements and policy required to achieve the SDGs and on how to actually achieve needed changes through effective and accountable governance. This will require transdisciplinary knowledge creation with strong leadership from social science research.

Identifying effective governance models and arrangements capable of accelerating transformations towards sustainability

Areas for scientific inquiry include:

  • Investigating the obstacles and enabling conditions that affect the implementation of the SDGs within national jurisdictions in different contexts and identifying ways of overcoming them;
  • Identifying ways of overcoming siloed decision-making and achieving policy coherence across sectors, levels and actors;
  • Understanding how to govern the transition process towards sustainability in an evidence-based and just manner;
  • Improving understanding of how national and global institutions should be reformed and what institutional capacities should be built to enhance governance for sustainability; and
  • Identifying effective mechanisms for increasing the transparency and accountability of governments, multinational companies and financial institutions.

Advancing multilateral cooperation

Areas for scientific inquiry include:

  • Overcoming the ‘tragedy of the commons’: identifying effective mechanisms for governing global commons, shared resources and common threats (e.g., climate change, oceans and biodiversity);
  • Identifying ways of overcoming obstacles to improved multilateral collaboration;
  • Developing scenarios, which consider potential outbreaks of conflict dynamics, as transformations to sustainability are likely to be disruptive and, thus, could potentially trigger conflicts; and
  • Identifying mechanisms for preventing and/or mitigating ongoing armed conflicts.

Analysing the 2030 Agenda through a governance lens and assessing its impact on real policy-making at different governmental levels (from global to local)

Areas for scientific inquiry include:

  • Assessing how the implementation of the 2030 Agenda shapes and is shaped by modes of governance across different contexts; and
  • Looking beyond the 2030 Agenda to help shape effective future global governance frameworks, ensuring productive contribution of a wide range of voices and disciplines to that debate.

Go back: A priority action agenda for science

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