The (im)possibility of the Swedish Policy for Global Development?

Researchers: Måns Fellesson and Lisa Román 
Project established in 2014

In 2003 the Swedish parliament decided on a bill proposing a coherent policy for global development (PGD): a commitment for all policy areas to contribute to the goal of a fair and sustainable global development (Prop. 2002/03:122 Gemensamt ansvar – Sveriges politik för global utveckling). Linkages between different policy areas and possible conflicts of interests were to be identified and addressed, both nationally and within the EU, in order for Sweden to pursue a coherent political agenda. In addition to policy coherence, the PGD also covered ambitions for Sweden’s work on global public goods, and for development assistance.

The PGD has remained a guiding document since the parliamentary decision, but its implementation and recognition has often appeared weak, and the policy might have failed to deliver results for a global sustainable development. A recent review by the Swedish agency for public management finds that the PGD has become gradually down-prioritized and that there is a lack of ownership of the policy in the different policy spheres. The government must assume a renewed joint responsibility, while there is need for more clarification and specification in order to improve evaluation of the policy, says the review (Statskontoret 2014:1; Politik för global utveckling. Regeringens gemensamma ansvar?).

This project will look deeper into the PGD and investigate the underlying problems behind ambitious statements on joint responsibility and coherence, and meagre results. Existing analytical work on coherence policies throughout Europe points to the lack of general political commitment (where global development remains an exclusive interest for aid agencies and ministries for foreign affairs), conflicts of interests in specific political areas (such as protection of domestic agricultural production and poor countries’ need to access global food markets), but also conflicting norms on what is best for development (for example differing views on technology developments). From an institutional perspective the difficulties might be understood as problems both of coordination and of incentives. These assessments and approaches will be used to develop an analytical framework by which the Swedish PGD will be examined, both through the recurring reports produced by the Swedish government to the parliament on results on the PGD, and by interviewing key stakeholders and other parties.
Participating researchers: Måns Fellesson and Lisa Román 

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