7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Can we achieve sustainable development results in cooperation programmes?

Can we achieve sustainable development results in cooperation programmes?

The challenge of the SDGs and role of partners

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 09:30 to 10:45

Key points

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their targets, plus the 2030 Agenda, provide a good framework for collecting data.
  • In order to collect results, donor countries need to strengthen partner countries’ ability to build up their own data collection systems.
  • Multistakeholders (government and other) in development partner countries must be strengthened so that they can hold their governments to account in general and on how they report on the SDGs in particular.
  • Data must be presented in a way that the public in both donor and development-partner countries can understand. They must include criteria such as gender, age, employment and human rights.
  • The processes involved in implementing the SDGs, such as bringing in stakeholders, are as important as any concrete results of the SDGs themselves. 


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their 169 targets, as well as the general aspiration to leave no one behind, provide a good framework for delivering results. While some of the targets are broad and aspirational, at least 80 of them contain concrete objectives. Development practitioners can use these in their work with partner governments to focus on lessons to be learnt and the direction for implementation.

Development partners need to adopt an efficient method for data collection and tabulation in order to demonstrate the results of development initiatives and funding. Where this is lacking, part of the donor countries’ role is to help governments build the requisite data-collection system. As well as including data that is relevant to the SDGs, systems must be more flexible manner so they can include people’s perception of what they want. This can often bring surprises. In one country it was found that people were more interested in land rights than the delivery of services involved in a particular development programme.

In order to accurately reflect the results of development programmes, collecting data must be conducted from the bottom-up and closely involve all the different stakeholders in development partner countries. Local business and civil society organisations must be included, as they connect with people on the ground. In addition, governments must empower these groups to ask questions

and must support them in ensuring accountability. Unfortunately there were no representatives from the “global south” on the panel to develop this theme.

One of the current failings in presenting data is that it is often difficult to retrieve by the general public. Results collected must be accessible to both the local population and to donors. Local people must be able to put this data to practical use, while donors, both at the organisational and individual level, have the right to know how their money is being spent. This is why it is important to devise systems of data collection that are transparent and can be aggregated to demonstrate the effects of development programmes on different sections of the population according to criteria such as gender, age, employment and human rights.

While it is important to present results that demonstrate how countries are progressing towards the SDGs, the spin-offs are as important as the goals themselves. As part of their data-collection role, governments must engage other stakeholders and encourage them to become a permanent feature of the development landscape. A second spin-off is to stress the importance of value for money in development programmes. Both these aspects are crucial to development policy and programmes.


Development activists’ long-term aim should be to make development programmes and initiatives so successful that they make themselves obsolete.

Organised by

    Anders Henriksson
    Principal Adviser for Policy Definition
    European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development
    Poul Engberg-Pedersen
    Policy Adviser Results-based Decision-making
    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD)
    Christoph Beier
    Vice-Chair of the Management Board
    Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
    Izabella Toth
    Senior Policy & Advocacy Strategist
    Franco Conzato
    Deputy Head of Unit for Quality and Results
    European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development
    Alexandra Silfverstolpe
    Founder and Managing Director
    Data Act Lab
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