IISD was commissioned by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2006 to study approximately 20 countries to identify good practice examples of governance structures for the NSDS and to study their effectiveness. The resulting paper was called "Governance Structures for National Sustainable Development Strategies: Study of Good Practice Examples (PDF - 412 kb)."
Some of the positive trends observed in this study include:
Nature of strategy co-ordination
Of the 21 jurisdictions considered in this paper, 18 were pursuing a NSDS process (titled either as a national SD strategy or an Agenda 21 strategy) whereby national-level direction was provided to government departments;
Almost three-quarters of the jurisdictions studied had a formal advisory or national council for SD to enable vetting of development initiatives from multiple perspectives; and
Linkages with local sustainable development action
While half of the countries studied made recommendations for local-level SD-related action, only five of the countries studied attempted to co-ordinate national level SD action with local efforts.
But many challenges remain for the governance aspects studied in this paper. Some of the concerning trends observed include the following:
Placement of overall responsibility
Only six of the 21 jurisdictions studied place responsibility for the NSDS with the prime minister or president's office;
Only four countries had a legal mandate for ongoing strategy development and implementation; and
Integration with existing planning and budgeting processes
Only one country studied had an NSDS that appeared integrated with an existing planning and budgeting process.
The NSDS is at a critical juncture in its development. In most applications, the NSDS is still not sufficiently linked to existing government planning, reporting and budgeting systems. This is a serious weakness because this type of integration can be a good proxy for the overall effectiveness of NSDS governance. But with this challenge we see an enormous opportunity emerging. While governments are developing the NSDS and its associated governance structures (often championed by environment departments), governments, via finance departments, are also making important advances in government accountability (e.g., annual departmental planning and reporting processes). And both of these efforts—the NSDS and government accountability systems—have a common purpose: to navigate real progress toward advances in the quality of life of its citizens.
For further information please contact IISD Project Manager/Officer, Darren Swanson.