The Addis Ababa Action Agenda recognizes that institutional “silos” need to be broken down through cross-fertilization of ideas and more effective coordination of actions, and stresses the importance of addressing inconsistencies in the system. This was already recognized in the Monterrey Consensus, which highlighted the urgent need to enhance coherence, governance and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems.
Specifically, in the Addis Agenda, Governments:
- Commit to strengthen international cooperation and to pursue policy coherence and an enabling environment for sustainable development at all levels and by all actors and to take measures to arrive at a stronger and more coherent international architecture for sustainable development
- Expand the coherence agenda to include economic, social and environmental challenges and commit to strengthen the coherence and consistency of multilateral financial, investment, trade, and development policy and environment institutions and platforms
- Call upon countries to assess the impact of national policies on sustainable development
- Call on IFIs to align their business practices with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
- Stress the importance of ensuring that agreements, rules and standards are consistent with each other and the SDGs
- Commit to take better advantage of relevant United Nations forums for promoting universal and holistic coherence and international commitments to sustainable development
- Call for increased cooperation between major international institutions
In May 2019, the IMF adopted a new strategy on engaging in social spending issues in its member countries. The Fund’s Independent Evaluation Office had taken up the matter in the aftermath of politically charged public responses in various countries to austerity policies, coupled with academic and advocacy studies. Under the new strategy, the Fund will further promote “adequate, efficient and sustainable” social spending in its member countries, and cooperate more intensively with other international institutions that work on social spending, such as the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank, while also inviting civil society organizations to engage more with the Fund.
International policy coherence can also be advanced when senior leaders take up an issue and raise its visibility. For example, the increased attention on central banks and regulatory authorities taking account of environmental risks may have been driven by executive vision. The IMF organized a high-profile panel on the issue during its 2019 Annual Meetings, followed by a speech by the Chairman of the Board of the Bank for International Settlements at a major financial conference two weeks later. The need for financial policy makers to pay attention to the lack of sufficient progress on slowing climate change exemplifies the interrelatedness of the financial and climate issues and the need for stronger policy measures.
The approach of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the United Nations presents an opportunity to consider the Organization’s role in positive change. The United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) serve as the main forums for forging a global consensus around key economic and social policy norms and targets. Discussions—in particular in the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development Follow-up—of the full range of policies to advance financing of sustainable development illustrates how the United Nations can contribute to coherence by bringing different institutions, Governments and other stakeholders together through its convening authority. This Task Force has also helped to strengthen coherence of analytical work across the system.