Real change means systemic change (and why policy coherence matters)

 In Advocacy Hub

Lisanne van der Steeg works as Policy Advisor for Woord en Daad and is a member of the PCSD working group of CONCORD. Woord en Daad is an NGO active in 22 countries worldwide, helping different vulnerable groups, and is a member of EU-CORD. Through our programs – Agricultural Development, Awareness Raising, Sustainable Water, Education and Emergency Aid and Resilience – we have been working on sustainable change for 45 years.

Policy coherence for sustainable development can support countries to achieve sustainable development, whereas policy incoherence can seriously undermine it. By committing to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the EU has promised to address policy incoherence and find compromises for policy conflicts.

Woord en Daad is working on this because we believe systemic change is necessary if development cooperation is to have a long-lasting impact.

My motivation to work on policy coherence for sustainable development is that all policies should have a positive impact on development.

Development cooperation is very important, but what if other policies hinder the effects?

  • A farmer in Burkina Faso wants to sell crops but is hindered because  European products are sold for a much cheaper price because of a trade agreement.
  • In Europe, a circular economy is created without looking at the social impacts on workers in developing countries or how our consumption affects the climate in west-Africa.

To change the negative impacts of EU policies on development is not just positive for countries affected but also improves the EU’s credibility as a reliable partner.  It is not just about direct impacts on countries outside of the EU. We are calling for a more integrated and long-term approach to EU policy-making.

Efforts for PCSD, therefore, should not only minimise negative external impacts: they should aim at fundamentally changing the economic, social and political system, to such an extent that future generations will be able to live in a world free from poverty, in which human rights and planetary boundaries are respected, and no one is left behind. Therefore I am honored to speak in the PCSD workshop, on behave of concord about structural solutions to improve the coherence for sustainable development.

Lisanne was invited to share this piece ahead of the workshop enhancing Policy Coherence for Development, hosted by the European Parliament’s Committee on Development. 

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