2016 Organisation and Management of Aid Analysis

Swedish Responsibility and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Magdalena Bexell, Kristina Jönsson

In September 2015, the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all UN Member States. Attention now turns to realisation of the goals at national level.

In light of their broad scope, a clear allocation of responsibilities is a prerequisite for achieving the SDGs by the end date, 2030. Based on a conceptual framework, policy material and a set of interviews with policy-makers, this report identifies key responsibility concerns and accountability challenges in the Swedish context.

The report was presented during the seminar Sveriges arbete med de globala målen – vems ansvar?

Main findings

  • A key concern is to move forward from the current emphasis on the organisation of political-institutional responsibility in order to also identify other actors’ responsibility.
  • Overconfidence in quantitative data collection risks broader ambitions within which indicators are embedded becoming secondary.
  • UN-based review promotes peer pressure among governments, national and local levels remain the primary locations for broader systematic accountability relationships between citizens and governments. A challenge is to make governments’ SDG responsibilities – still remote to many citizens’ concerns – part of those relationships.
  • Five tensions that are likely to impact the realisation of responsibility in the Swedish context: (1) a point of tension between creating new and working with existing structures; (2) a point of tension between a holistic approach and a clear division of responsibilities; (3) a point of tension between the SDGs and other political interests; (4) a point of tension between mandatory and voluntary-based responsibility; and (5) point of tension between acting unilaterally and multilaterally in the international setting.

Authors
Magdalena, Bexell, Associate Professor at the Department of
Political Science, Lund University, Sweden
Kristina Jönsson, Associate Professor at the Department of
Political Science, Lund University, Sweden