The 2015 agreement over the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) holds promise to balance the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of development. Many analysts have pointed to an integrated approach to decision-making as critical for achieving this balance. An integrated approach involves recognising synergies and avoiding trade-offs across more than one SDG or target. The appeal of such an approach is it can reduce the costs and time needed to achieve multiple SDGs and targets, while accounting for a fuller set of development needs and priorities. Integration can also ensure the negative impacts of shortsighted economic growth do not jeopardise more sustainable gains for human well-being and the environment.
However, employing an integrated approach as a basis for decision-making is not easy. One of the foremost challenges involves engaging a wide range of government agencies, businesses, civil-society organisations, and marginalised groups within and across different levels of decision-making. This often necessitates identifying new ways to encourage participation, enhance accountability, strengthen coordination, and align interests. In short, it requires new forms of governance.
The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies’ (IGES) Sustainability Governance Centre (SGC) is uniquely positioned to identify forms of governance that can support multi-issue, multi-level integration in Asia. This is partially because the Centre frequently participates in policymaking processes in Asia—at various levels with different stakeholders—where mutually beneficial synergies and trade-offs exist. Further, because the research is action-oriented and multi-disciplinary, it combine a variety of tools, data, and case studies that can help policymakers and other stakeholders address the region’s most pressing sustainability challenges. Last but not least, due to a regional focus, SGC is well-placed to recommend forms of governance than can help the world’s most populous region take an integrated approach to the SDGs.