Integrating policy for poverty eradication

By Andrew Shepherd, Director of CPAN

I recently spent a day at the ECOSOC meeting on policy integration for poverty eradication in New York.

  • The basic idea: Achieving zero extreme poverty will take many different public (and private) actions, and these will vary from country to country.
  • The question of the hour: Which of these actions to eradicate poverty have to be ‘integrated’, and how do you decide this?
  • The consensus: It is widely agreed that achieving the poverty eradication SDG (and indeed the other SDGs with their commitments to Leave No One Behind) will involve significant innovation in how poverty is reduced, and that this would primarily operate through stronger integration.

What did the speakers have to say about integration?

Juan Somavia, former head of ILO, gave some conceptual background: integration could mean co-ordination, but people don’t generally want to be co-ordinated; it could mean coherence; in the SDG context it should mean convergence behind a goal: identifying the combinations and perhaps sequences of policies and programmes which best contribute in a particular context.

Karin Fernando from the Centre for Economic Policy Analysis talked about an analysis of Sri Lankan policies which tries to identify the nodal policies – those which affect the achievement of more than one goal, and later mentioned the google fusion software which can help to do this by recording the intensity of interactions across policies and outcomes, based on expert and practitioners’ opinion.

And Mario Marroquin gave a brilliant example of cross-border policy integration from Central America – the Trefinio bio-sphere reserve. Here carefully constructed and politically supported institutional collaboration (a three country Commission run by their Vice Presidents) and based on a legal framework, has been nurtured over a long period (30 years) and based on credible scientific knowledge produced by local universities, as well as involvement of local and national authorities, civil society and the private sector. This has meant that there doesn’t need to be a trade-off between environmental and economic goals if these relationships are carefully and intensively managed. However, the effort required was remarkable, and definitely not in the BAU category.

Taking the policy debate forward: CPAN views on context, combinations, and sequencing

CPAN’s contribution to this discussion was to indicate that there needs to be a context-specific combination of policies across the three objectives which underlie the poverty eradication goal – tackling chronic poverty, stopping impoverishment, and sustaining escapes from poverty. In particular, since impoverishment can wipe out poverty reduction gains it is important to integrate policy areas like disaster risk management, universal health coverage and social protection, which help to stop impoverishment, with policies supporting escapes from poverty like smallholder agricultural development and development of the rural non-farm economy through financial inclusion, business development services, asset development, and expanded energy access.

And to suggest that different combinations and sequences of policies would be needed and possible in different national contexts (or even sub-national in the case of big countries) to avoid leaving people behind in the achievement of the SDGs. Deciding factors would be institutional capacity, political leadership, opposition from vested interests, cost and the availability of tax revenue or aid based public expenditure. We have made a first attempt at outlining what these priorities might look like for different categories of country – as a half way house between universal prescription and entirely context driven prescription, to be published soon.

A first glimpse into a Poverty Eradication Policy Preparedness Index

At CPAN we’re also heavily into developing the Poverty Eradication Policy Preparedness Index (PEPPI) and policy database for 2015, to record what policies countries started the SDG era with, with a view to monitoring policy change over the SDG period. This is our contribution to SDG monitoring. Developing something robust is of course not easy and the database and Index will take some time to publish, though bits of the database should begin emerge this summer. What the ECOSOC meeting made me wonder was whether and how we could also use the PEPPI to record the degree of policy integration countries are achieving, and the policy accelerators which help to achieve several goals.

To support the achievement of the MDGs UNDP developed the related notion of policy accelerators – interventions which would help achieve several goals or targets simultaneously. It is now developing a similar approach for the SDGs. Going forwards CPAN and UNDP will work together on a paper outlining policy monitoring guidelines for countries on the SDGs. Much of this discussion will get a further airing at the High Level Political Forum on the SDGs in July [add hyperlink], together with different approaches to SDG monitoring - ODI’s stocktakes, CIVICUS’s grassroots ‘ask the people’ approach , Unicef and WHO’s equity targeting.

More information and resources

Watch the video of CPAN Director, Andrew Shepherd, discussing global efforts to eradicate poverty at the 2017 ECOSOC Integration Segment with Mr. Juan Somavia here

To learn more have a look at the UN ECOSOC blog post. More related content here