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Co-ordination and Participation


Co-ordination is a cross-cutting aspect in the strategic management cycle for national SD strategies. There are many dimensions to co-ordination in a national SD strategy. Some of these are outlined in the UN DESA guidelines for national SD Strategies comprising of:

• linking local, national, regional and global priorities and actions;
• linking the national, regional and global levels;
• linking different sectors;
• coherence between budgets and strategy priorities; and
• linking the short-term to the medium- and long-term.

The above first two bullets are related to issues of vertical coordination, while the second two bullets deal with horizontal co-ordination. The last bullet relates to intergenerational co-ordination.


Like co-ordination, participation is a cross-cutting aspect in the strategic management of the national SD strategy process. It is perhaps one of the fundamental tenets of sustainable development and is reflected in the UN DESA and OECD-DAC guidelines for
national SD strategies as follows:

• Country-led and nationally-owned (OECD-DAC);
• Country ownership and commitment (UN DESA);
• Effective participation (OECD-DAC); and
• Broad participation and effective partnerships (UN DESA) including institutionalized channels for communication and trust and mutual respect.

The extent of participation in a strategy process defines the ownership of the strategy. A truly national strategy will have in place a participation approach that obtains the collective feedback of all stakeholders in the country. Participation that falls shy of this mark would reflect more of a national government strategy for SD.

The dividing line between the two is not always clear, making it a difficult aspect to analyze. Significant progress has been made in participation approaches since the 1992 Earth Summit, and in many developed and developing countries, public participation in the creation of sectoral strategies is now part of regular business. But based on the country case studies reviewed, challenges still remain for effective participation.


Civil Society: A Critical Co-ordinated Actor and Participant
Civil society has become an important voice and player in modern democracies, which is vital particularly vital for complex strategies and long-term changes such as sustainable development. There are different traditions in different political cultures, some established for a  longer time and some rather developing, for involving civil society and their respective organisations in political decision-making. For the government as a key actor, above and besides the market, civil society has performed a selection and aggregation of a broad range of views.


Darren Swanson, Laszlo Pinter (2004). National Strategies for Sustainable Development: Challenges, Approaches and Innovations in Stratefic and Co-ordinated Actions. Internation Instutute for Sustainable Development (IISD), available at 

Ingeborg Niestroy (June 2007).Stimulating informed debate – Sustainable Development Councils in EU Member States : A compilation of tasks, capacities, and best practice. European Environmental and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils (EEAC), available at

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