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Sustaining Development As We Know It : Limits to Downward Accountability in Post-2015 International Development Policy

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posted on 2023-08-05, 08:37 authored by Daniel EsserDaniel Esser, Yoonbin Ha

A review of the literature on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) published during the past fifteen years demonstrates that accountabilities have constituted one of this global framework’s weaknesses. In response, we develop four dimensions of accountability in global development governance and apply them to the emerging Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the MDGs’ successors. We focus on the extent to which the SDGs change accountabilities of bilateral donors and multilateral aid organizations to national recipient governments and to local beneficiaries. We find that compared to the MDGs, national governments had markedly more influence on the content of the SDGs. At the same time, despite UN-sponsored efforts to seek input from the public, post-2015 agenda-setting in global development governance continues being determined by policy elites. We conclude with a call for strengthening and institutionalizing downstream accountabilities as building blocks for global transparency and international aid effectiveness.



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