United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

National strategies and SDG integration


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states that the Sustainable Development Gaols (SDGs) are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social, and environmental). The interlinkages and integrated nature of the SDGs are of crucial importance in ensuring that the purpose of the new Agenda is realised. Accordingly, the integrated and interlinked nature of the SDGs needs to inform and guide their mainstreaming into national planning frameworks, in the form of national development plans or sustainable development strategies. The transformational vision of the 2030 Agenda depends on such an integrated approach, which involves identifying possible synergies and trade-offs between SDGs and their associated targets, as well as developing context specific integrated approaches to ensure effective implementation.

The 2019 SDG Summit called on countries to “mainstream the 2030 Agenda into our national planning instruments, policies, strategies and financial frameworks”. The voluntary national reviews (VNRs) and other sources provide examples of approaches taken by countries to integrate the 2030 agenda into national plans and strategies. Countries are also integrating regional and continental agendas into their plans, for instance the 2063 Agenda of the African Union. The SDGs are also being incorporated into plans and review processes at the sub-national as evidenced by the voluntary local reviews.

The integration of the SDGs – and sustainable development more broadly – builds on the experience with National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDS), which were included in 1992 in Agenda 21 (§ 8.7). Here countries were called upon to integrate economic, social and environmental objectives into one strategically focused blueprint for action at the national level. The NSDS “should be developed through the widest possible participation”. And it “should be based on a thorough assessment of the current situation and initiatives”.

As seen at the Voluntary National Reviews at the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, issues such as country ownership and strong political commitment, the integration of economic, social and environmental objectives across sectors, territories and generations; broad participation and effective partnerships, the development of capacity and enabling environment, as well as the mobilization of means of implementations remain at the centre of policy debates at all levels.

More on NSDS

In the Programme for the Future Implementation of Agenda 21 adopted at the 19th Special Session of the General Assembly (23-28 June 1997), member States reaffirmed the importance of NSDS and set a target of 2002 for the formulation and elaboration of NSDS that reflect the contributions and responsibilities of all interested parties.

However, by 2002, based on national reports received from governments, only about 85 countries had developed some form of national strategies and the nature and effectiveness of these strategies varied considerably from country to country. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) adopted at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), through paragraph 162 b, recommitted member States to “take immediate steps to make progress in the formulation and elaboration of national strategies for sustainable development and to begin their implementation by 2005.”

During the preparatory process for the 2002 WSSD, the International Forum on NSDS was held in Accra, Ghana in 2001, which led to the launch of the Guidance in Preparing a National Sustainable Development Strategy. It defined National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) as “a coordinated, participatory and iterative process of thoughts and actions to achieve economic, environmental and social objectives in a balanced and integrative manner”. Most importantly, NSDS is a call for an institutional change. It aims at a transition from the traditional static putting-a-plan-on-paper exercise towards the establishment of an adaptive system that can continuously improve. It should be a process which “encompasses situation analysis, formulation of policies and action plans, implementation, monitoring and regular review. It is a cyclical and interactive process of planning, participation and action in which the emphasis is on managing progress towards sustainability goals rather than producing a ‘plan’ as an end product.”

Every country needs to determine, for itself, how best to approach the preparation and implementation of its national sustainable development strategy depending upon the prevailing political, historical cultural, ecological circumstances. A "blueprint" approach for national sustainable development strategies is neither possible nor desirable. The particular label applied to a national sustainable development strategy is not important, as long as the underlying principles characterizing a national sustainable development strategy are adhered to and that economic, social and environmental objectives are balanced and integrated.

Today, there is an increased interest in national development planning, and for many countries their national plan or strategy - even if not labelled as an NSDS - is the chief means for incorporating the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs into the national policy framework.

Displaying 46 - 60 of 85
Title Type Date
Final Report (Korea Workshop) Outcome Documents 23-Oct-2007
Agenda on OECD/UNDESA/UNESCAP Workshop Logistics 22-Oct-2007
Abstracts Logistics 22-Oct-2007
Technical Meeting Report Other documents 23-Dec-2006
List of Participants (Korea Workshop) Logistics 23-Dec-2006
Programme (Korea Workshop) Logistics 19-Dec-2006
OECD/UNDSD EGM Agenda Logistics 23-Aug-2006
OECD/UNDSD EGM Abstracts Logistics 23-Aug-2006
Background Document for PSIDS Workshop Other documents 23-May-2006
Final Report on PSIDS Workshop Other documents 23-May-2006
Agenda and Organization of Work Logistics 23-May-2006
Participants of PSIDS Workshop Logistics 23-May-2006
UNDSD/EGM/NSDS/2005/CRP7 Other documents 24-Oct-2005
UNDSD/EGM/NSDS/2005/CRP11 Other documents 24-Oct-2005
UNDSD/EGM/NSDS/2005/CRP4 Other documents 24-Oct-2005