Skip to main content

Transformational policies and actions to accelerate SDG delivery

Wednesday 06 – Friday 08 March 2024 | WP3235


As the SDGs are an interconnected framework, there are multiple opportunities to leverage the inherent synergies between the Goals. There must be a strong focus on evidence-based policies with a multiplier effect – those which accelerate progress across multiple Goals at once. This is partly about prioritising how resources are invested, but more fundamentally, it is about drawing upon a range of levers – economic, social, political – to make significant change. For example, finding ways to maximise co-benefits between tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and eradicating poverty.

A wide range of policies and actions accelerate SDG delivery, with it being critical to apply what works best in the local context. Three prevalent themes were identified: leadership, financing and innovation. It is clear, however, that these themes are some of many ways to accelerate SDG delivery, with others including action to address fragility and conflict, inequalities, and the climate/development nexus. One immediate and unifying action that can be taken, is to intentionally design programmes, policies and investments that have a built- in synergistic or multiplier approach


As demonstrated by the country success stories, with good leadership progress is possible. Many countries are making excellent progress in aligning their resources to SDGs and leveraging the synergies across the SDG framework. This approach could be adopted by other countries, including developed countries. Planning and monitoring at national, regional, and local levels only works if there is strong accountability and governance. A prerequisite for all this is exemplary leadership, across both political and official orbits.

Leaders must also bring together different voices and ensure participation from underrepresented and marginalised groups. Putting citizens at the heart of discussions, including intergenerational discourse, is critical if long-term, transformational change is to be achieved. An inclusive and locally led approach to development increases the likelihood of success, with strong local leadership also being recognised as fundamental. There are multiple definitions of local leadership, and all are important for SDG delivery: empowering and funding grassroots organisations, delivering the SDGs sub-nationally especially at the city level, and putting partners and their priorities in the lead when allocating funding.


It is not surprising that the biggest challenge faced by many countries is accessing sufficient resources to deliver the SDGs. The International Financial System is not able to adequately respond to needs of developing countries, whether that be providing greater development finance, more accessible climate finance, or shock-responsive finance.

Domestic Resource Mobilisation

Additional domestic resources are critical to closing the financing gap. Revenue is mobilised not just by new or higher taxes and economic growth but through strengthened systems. Domestic resource mobilisation provides governments with resources to drive SDG delivery but is also an important step in becoming financially independent and moving away from donor dependency. 

International Finance

A significant increase in the volume of international finance that flows into low- and middle-income countries is urgently needed. A critical source of development finance for the world’s poorest countries is the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), for which an ambitious replenishment this year is key. As set out in the UN’s Financing for Development ‘Addis Ababa Action Agenda’, Official Development Assistance (ODA) alone will never be enough to deliver the SDGs. New sources of finance and innovative mechanisms are needed, for example, reducing the transaction costs of remittances and utilising climate resilient debt clauses.

Private Sector

The SDGs should be viewed as an opportunity for the private sector, both from a corporate social responsibility perspective and a return on investments. Businesses have significantly increased their use of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework, but there has been less SDG engagement and action. It is critical to engage with the private sector on the SDGs and incentivise SDG action and reporting. The private sector has an important role to play in filling the SDG financing gap, mobilising both more domestic and international private capital. In many cases the private sector has an appetite to do more but needs clear direction from governments and the multilateral system.

“The SDGs are a powerful convening platform for the private sector and all member states.”


High borrowing costs and debt service payments are unsustainable. They place huge pressures on developing countries and reduce the fiscal space available for essential spending. The global debt architecture needs to be restructured to provide timely, predictable and fair debt restructuring and debt relief. Improving transparency of how credit ratings are set, and plugging evidence gaps, are key to unlocking access to affordable finance and removing risk bias.

 Funds received or borrowed in the name of a country’s citizens are not all reaching the communities that need them due illicit finance activities. Countries require tools and assistance to prevent and combat illicit financial flows – more must be done on this urgently.


Innovation and access to technology are essential if countries are to achieve stable economic growth and productivity gains, which in turn increase income levels driving SDG progress. There is a vast array of exciting research and innovation happening across sectors – this is important for both the scalability and cost effectiveness of development solutions. Scientific innovations, such as clean-energy technologies, provide important opportunities for greater climate resilience and low-carbon growth pathways accelerating progress across multiple SDGs.

Addressing the barriers that developing countries face in engaging and benefiting in the current technical revolution is critical. Issues of inclusion, access and leave no one behind are fundamental. Alongside enhancing critical infrastructure, such as electricity and connectivity, is the need to support communities in building their digital capabilities.

Timely, high-quality data is critical to evidence-based decision making and measuring the progress on the SDGs. Investments are required to harness new data and address data gaps, as well as building data management capacity. With the volume of data in the world increasing exponentially and with ethical standards in place, big data can be used to support and inform SDG delivery. Much of this data is collected by the private sector and is a further opportunity for partnership.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds huge potential for transformative progress on the SDGs. Given the full potential and risks of AI are not yet entirely understood, there is a need for strong ethical AI governance and safeguarding. AI could also be used to build the evidence on what works to deliver the SDGs, developing and growing a live database.

Collectively the focus must be on leveraging and harnessing the opportunities innovation presents for key SDG breakthroughs. This requires increased investment and improved collaboration between innovators, researchers, businesses, governments, the multilateral system, and civil society – recognising the private sector is the key driver of innovation.


SDG Success Stories


Next steps

Want to find out more?

Sign up to our newsletter