(2015) Common But Differentiated Governance: Making the SDGs work

Full Journal article now published (Open Access) in 'Sustainability'


For the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as universal goals, differentiated implementation approaches are needed at national or other levels, as any one governance style falls short, and that there is some convergence towards a more comprehensive approach which is called ‘metagovernance’. To support this insight, we propose the new principle of Common But Differentiated Governance (CBDG).

Key points:

  1. Introduce ‘Common But Differentiated Governance’ (CBDG) as guidance for creating the most suitable governance arrangements for SDG implementation, taking into account “different national realities and capacities”.

  2. Use metagovernance - As all governance styles have their strengths and weaknesses, governance for SDG implementation requires mindfully combining arrangements based on ideas from different approaches; for this, metagovernance offers a model that can be applied. Metagovernance helps to design governance arrangements which combine the (situational) best of the three ideal-types hierarchical, network and market governance, without making one of them the “Holy Grail”, or denying one of them to be part of the mixture.

  3. Apply basic principles - To support transitions towards sustainable development, governance principles need to be applied such as reflexivity, long-term thinking, and multi-sector, -level and –actor governance.

  4. Establish support and peer review arrangements - Governance support arrangements are useful to assist process design, review, monitoring and evaluation. This could include specific bodies/networks, but also peer review arrangements.

Download the full Journal article published in 'Sustainability'.

Download the short precursor of the article here (published as guest article at IISD on 21st April 2015.