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Reviewing Performance

From Improving Policy Coherence in Scotland

Monitoring progress in policy coherence is a complicated process, and no country has yet developed a comprehensive set of indicators that that adequately measures changes over time in the institutional mechanisms that are required to improve PCSD. In 2018, to help a country assess such progress, the OECD suggested indicators for each of their Eight Building Blocks.

In section, an attempt is made to review Scotland’s performance against the OECD suggested indicators using their 3-level rating system, with an explanation of the Scottish specific context where appropriate. The table below also includes more general and top-level recommendations to highlight how Scotland could perform better against each indicator. These can be developed, changed and reviewed over time.

Using the rather crude, 3-level rating in the suggested indicators,it can be said that Scotland has made progress in many areas but that such performance still scores low in all eight key elements. It is worth noting that the OECD 2018 rating does not account for no action; therefore, even a low score demonstrates that some progress has been made.

In July 2019, the OECD published their latest PCSD report that was presented at the UN HLPF in New york[1]. In this most recent edition of the research into PCSD, they make further suggestions about developing indicators to measure progress on PCSD. They build on the 2018 framework that we use below, and suggest further process indicators for each building block using a 5-point rating scale. They also offer other suggested ways countries can develop indicators that measure policy interactions and policy effects.

There is no presumption that this Wiki has all the answers to the complex issue of measuring progress on PCSD, rather it is hoped that ideas presented here can be developed and tailored to the Scottish specific context by key stakeholders in and outside government.

It is also worth noting that the first version of this table below has been developed by those outside government who do not have a full overview of all internal government mechanisms. Therefore, we encourage that this assessment of institutional mechanisms for PCSD is developed further by a multi-stakeholder partnership of both government and civil society representatives.

PCSD Building Block OECD Indicator OECD Degrees of Performance Scotland’s rating Recommendations to improve rating
Political commitment The commitment to PCSD is formally incorporated into domestic law and/or national strategic framework and/or action plan. Low: The government makes public, but not binding, statements supporting PCSD.

Medium: A formal institutional “catalyst” (interministerial committees, centralised oversight body, ministry or unit) is mandated to promote PCSD.

High: PCSD is explicitly included in the national strategy/plan/legislation. And/or a time bound plan for PCSD is developed, implemented and monitored through formal interministerial and multi stakeholder mechanisms.

Low: Scotland has made a good start on its PCSD journey.

Multiple statements have been made in support of PCSD by Government and other political parties.

The International Development Strategy identifies a number of thematic areas for policy coherence.

In 2018, the National Performance Framework was aligned with the SDGs.

Adopt a clear and universal definition of PCSD across the whole of government, and in Parliament

Strengthen the NPF by legislating the link between outcomes and budgets so lines of accountability are clear.

Develop a National Implementation Plan that outlines how the revised National Performance Framework will support the implementation of the SDGs and enhance PCSD

Develop a mechanism to scrutinise new and existing legislation or policy through a ‘sustainable development’ lens.

Policy integration The government has mechanisms (interministerial, multi-stakeholder) with the power to take strategic decisions to influence and align planning, budgeting, legislation, sectoral programmes and policies. Low: The mechanism can modify sectoral programmes and policies taking into account their interlinkages and/or sets out guidelines to integrate SDGs and PCSD.

Medium: The mechanism can merge two or more sectoral programmes, considering synergies and trade-offs.

High: The mechanism can integrate SDGs and PCSD into the mandate of each institution, involving budgetary processes, and develops multi-sectoral strategies or programmes.


The Scottish Government’s NPF has the potential to be the mechanism that fully integrates the SDGs and PCSD into policy making across all sectors, however, at present there is no statutory obligation to report on progress towards outcomes, nor link budgets to outcomes.

Embed or consolidate existing Impact assessment tools into a broader NPF framework, to help align different approaches to policy development with different parts of government.
Inter-generational timeframe The government has mechanisms in place to consider the long-term effects of policies and take precautionary decisions and maintain commitment to SDGs and PCSD over time. Low: The government has a long-term vision/strategy for sustainable development as a framework for overall SDG implementation.

Medium: The vision or strategic framework defines concrete, long-term challenges and contains objectives, benchmarks and indicators related to economic, social and environmental inter-generational issues where policy coherence is required.

High: The government has mechanisms to ensure sustained commitment and implementation efforts beyond electoral cycles, and provisions to ensure that future government programmes and budget preparations include SDG and PCSD considerations.

Low? Scotland’s PCSD mechanism should holistically consider the transboundary and long-term effects of any policy.
Policy effects The government has mechanisms to systematically assess negative impacts of domestic policies on sustainable development at home and abroad, and develops measures to maximise synergies and mitigate negative effects Low: The national strategic framework includes measures to address negative impacts of policies in other countries (particularly least developed countries, and globally) but has not yet established a mechanism to do so.

Medium: Assessments of sustainable development linkages and potential positive and negative effects of policy proposals (including transboundary effects) and legislative proposals are regularly conducted before and after implementation.

High: Policies are adjusted in light of new information on negative effects

Low: NPF indicators are being developed that could measure the negative impacts of policies on other countries, but three is no mechanism to do so.

Develop a mechanism to scrutinise new and existing legislation or policy through a ‘sustainable development’ lens.

Incorporate this into existing processes across all committees, or create an NPF/PCSD Committee to scrutinise any new legislation against all 11 of the NPF outcomes.

Implement the Commission on Parliamentary Reform's recommendations on committees and changing legislative scrutiny from three stages to five. This would allow for policy coherence scrutiny to be embedded into a specific stage or stages.

Coordination The government has mechanisms that allow ministries and public sector agencies to share information, distribute responsibilities, allocate resources, and resolve conflicts of interest or inconsistencies Low: Ministries and public sector agencies regularly share information on their programmes, plans and policies for SDGs.

Medium: Ministries and public sector agencies align their implementation strategies, plans and policies based on common goals and targets, but work individually and with separate resources.

High: Ministries and public sector agencies work jointly, based on systematic exchange of information and shared resources, to develop joint programmes, plans and policies. The government has an arbitration mechanism to solve policy conflicts.


Climate work?

NPF needs 100% buy in from all government sectors and levels. Anecdotally, the Alliance learnt that in the last internal survey, only 40% of civil servants were aware of and used the NPF to guide their work.

Develop a National Implementation Plan that outlines how the revised National Performance Framework will support the implementation of the SDGs and enhance PCSD
Local involvement There is a mechanism that allows for systematic consultation, collaboration and alignment of efforts at the national, subnational and local levels. Low: National, subnational and local decision makers regularly share information on their respective effort to achieve SDGs

Medium: National, subnational and local levels of government align their implementation plans based on shared information and work individually using their own resources to contribute to country’s commitment towards the SDGs.

High: National, subnational and local levels of government collaborate, considering their respective competencies and based on systematic exchange of information to develop joint action plans. There is an arbitration mechanism to solve conflicts of interest between different levels of government.


SDG Network and Scot Gov NPF team working together on Scottish VNR

Develop a National Implementation Plan that outlines how the revised National Performance Framework will support implementing and reporting on SDGs.

This should be co-created with local authorities and attempt to foster vertical policy coherence from national to local government.

Stakeholder engagement The government has mechanisms to ensure participation of stakeholders (civil society, business and industry, science and academia) in the development of plans and policies. Low: The government regularly organises public events involving multiple stakeholders to raise awareness and foster dialogue on PCSD/SDG implementation

Medium: The government has established mechanisms to consult and work directly with key stakeholders throughout the policy making process.

High: The government develops partnerships with stakeholders for SDG implementation.

Perhaps include here the invitation for civil society to comment on the Contribution to Dev report (although there wasn’t enough time, etc) and the multi-stakeholder roundtable on the NPF. Jo O’Neill (SCIAF) might be able to give some information on the not-so-successful working group for the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (SNAP).

Stuff on climate and education?

SDG Network and Scot Gov NPF team working together on Scottish VNR

Develop a National Implementation Plan that outlines how the revised National Performance Framework will support the implementation of the SDGs and enhance PCSD. This should be co-created with Scotland’s people and civil society through an open government approach.

Monitoring and reporting The government has monitoring and reporting systems that are used to inform changes in policy which maximise synergies and minimise negative transboundary effects and benefit developing countries Low: The government has monitoring and reporting system in place, but there is no clear evidence of policy change.

Medium: The government regularly reports on SDG17.14 and has monitoring and reporting systems with indicators for assessing institutional mechanisms for coherence and screening domestic and international policies that could adversely affect sustainable development in other countries or regions. There are mechanisms or provisions that allow the monitoring and reporting system to feed back into the decision making process.

High: The government makes policy changes which address negative transboundary impacts.

Low Link the NPF to the Scottish Government budget so that parliamentarians and civil society can better hold government account on progress towards NPF outcomes.

Develop sensible NPF indicators to measure progress on international development, that incorporate economic, social, environmental and governance indicators to measure how our international contribution.

indicators should recognise the interconnected nature of outcomes domestically and internationally.

An NPF indicator that specifically measures progress on policy coherence should be developed. This indicator should measure the process of improving PCSD