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IIED Briefing: Reconceiving the SDGs as a political force for change

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) attract much international attention. They are presented as a powerful instrument for leveraging transformative change in the way governments make development decisions and how economies function. Yet in adopting the SDGs, countries did not commit to pursuing them. For that to happen, policy leaders will need to see how the goals align with – or usefully challenge – national objectives, and also be convinced that the SDGs can help them make good decisions. This requires reconceiving the SDGs as a political force for change in specific contexts, rather than as a broadly accepted framework of aspirational goals and associated technocratic challenges. Drawing on insights from diverse national experiences in achieving sustainable development, this briefing uses a political economy lens to examine how that can happen.

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