In the past months, the region of Catalonia has chosen to align its multi-annual planning with the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. Below you will find some of Catalonia's reflections on this choice of direction.
What is the rationale behind this approach?
The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals provide for a very adequate framework for a fresh reflection on Catalonia's contribution to global development. This framework will be used for both the creation of a 2030 Vision, through an ample mapping of local actions and actors that are key for SDG achievement, plus a shorter planning cycle (2019-2022) fixing the budget, the sectoral and geographical priorities and the means of implementation for the next four years. SDGs are thus expected to become a productive framework for planning and for action, allowing the engagement of actors and partners of Catalan development cooperation, its alignment with the global goals, and global reporting of results.
The role of ODA and planning over time
Planning has been one of the main principles of Catalan development cooperation since its very beginning. From 2003 to 2018, four quadrennial master plans have defined geographical and sectoral priorities, means of implementation and financial perspectives to be deployed in the 4-year policy cycle. They also incorporate international innovations and lessons learned regarding effectiveness in the delivery of official development assistance (ODA).
However, not only the world of ODA has undergone deep changes in the last years, but also the planning function itself has to be reconsidered in the face of continuous change and uncertainty in the international and domestic environments. This evolution is clearly visible in the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations in 2015. With its 17 goals relating to five strategic areas (people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership), the new Agenda sets a new benchmark for development efforts at the global level. It combines universality (a programme for both the North and the South), inclusivity (involving all actors), national political leadership and international accountability.
Clearly, achieving the Agenda results by 2030 goes well beyond the power of development cooperation policies and ODA financing. In fact, current debates and reflections on "localisation" of SDGs underscore the need for whole-of government, integrated approaches, cross-sector policy dialogue and multi-level governance. However, this does not mean that development policy should play a minor role. On the contrary: while SDGs are indeed a framework for domestic actions and international reporting, their progress depends also on ample multi-actor engagement at home, and on productive exchange and cooperation abroad. The 2030 Agenda provides some insights on what types of international cooperation and what means of implementation are more relevant for its ambitious ends, calling for what Alexandra Rudolph has labelled "SDG-sensitive" development cooperation. Also development policy can be a powerful catalyst, a lever for the change that SDGs must be about.
Specifically, the 2030 Agenda contains provisions and recommendations on conventional ODA allocations: it retains the 0,7 GDP ODA target, of which one third should go to LDCs. But stress is also laid on other key issues: inter alia, policy coherence for development, mobilization of additional SDG-oriented funding (public, private, blended), development data acquisition and processing, the building of technical capacities, or the promotion of innovative partnerships. These are all aspects on which decentralized cooperation is already leading the way, and may have an ever a more relevant part to play in the future.
Author: Mr Javier Sánchez Cano, DG Development Cooperation, Generalitat de Catalunya