World Public Sector Report 2019

Institutions for the sustainable development goals: progress on the institutional dimensions of SDG 16

The World Public Sector Report 2019 will aim to provide an empirical analysis of approaches to foster progress on critical dimensions of institutions for the sustainable development goals (SDGs), highlighting challenges, progress made, lessons learned from different SDG areas in various contexts, including different groups of countries. The focus of the report will be on public institutions to deliver the SDGs. The report will examine key challenges and opportunities for enhancing the performance of institutions in terms of seven principles put forward by SDG 16 (effectiveness, transparency, accountability, anti-corruption, inclusiveness of decision-making processes, access to information, non-discriminatory laws and policies), highlighting experiences from past decades both at the sectoral and cross-sectoral levels. The report will consider the interplay among broad societal goals and strategies to achieve them, the principles for institutions highlighted in SDG 16, and tools and instruments that support institution building and functioning, such as planning, budgeting, and risk management, and its implications for public administration and public institutions. The report thus aims to illustrate progress made on various dimensions of institutions for the SDGs, drawing lessons on how current trends and innovative experiments might support the realisation of the SDGs, at the international level as well as at the national level in different developmental and governance contexts.

Chapter 1: Trends in implementation of institutional principles highlighted in SDG 16


This chapter will introduce the rest of the report. Its main goals will be to define the scope of the report, present the analytical framework, introduce the main research questions, and present the outline and focus of the rest of the report.

The chapter will start with a presentation of the analytical framework will follow the introductory part of the present document, adding relevant detail and references from the literature. It will describe in more detail the concepts in each of the three “boxes” of Figure 1, and their relationships – including synergies and tensions. For example, a wide literature has focused on the relations among principles for institutions such as participation, transparency and accountability.

The next section of the chapter will aim to summarily illustrate the status of various institution-related components of SDG 16, seen from a global perspective. This section will stay at the meta level, not focusing on the value of SDG 16-related indicators, but trying to synthesize ongoing efforts, both in terms of development of institutions at different levels (international and national) that aim to address the dimensions that define the scope of the report (effectiveness, transparency, accountability, anti-corruption, inclusiveness of decision-making processes, access to information, non-discrimination), and in term of efforts to measure progress on these dimensions.

The last section of the chapter will introduce the rest of the report.

Research questions:

  1. What have been major international, regional and national instruments put in place over the past 30 years to address SDG 16 principles relative to institutions such as transparency, accountability, anti-corruption, inclusiveness of decision-making processes, access to information, and non-discrimination?
  2. Where are current efforts to measure progress on institutional aspects of the SDG focusing?
  3. What are theoretical and methodological issues related to measuring SDG 16, and how do they impact efforts to monitor SDG 16?
  4. Where are gaps in coverage? Where do available indicators provide an incomplete picture of relevant dimensions or trends?

Chapter 2: Addressing corruption

The chapter will focus on concrete ways in which countries have identified corruption risks and addressed corrupt practices at the systemic level and in different sectors. All SDG areas will be used to illustrate the chapter. In addition, the chapter will focus more specifically on SDG3 (health), SDG 4 (education), SDG 6(water), SDG 9 and 11 (infrastructure), and SDG 12 (natural resources management).

The chapter will consider both preventive and punitive anti-corruption strategies and measures, with a focus on public administration and the public sector. The chapter will highlight obstacles to and opportunities for effective anti-corruption reform and implementation of anti-corruption strategies. Commonalities and differences in approaches to fighting corruption in various sectors will be highlighted in order to illustrate the sector-specificity of institutional arrangements. The chapter will also consider how countries are monitoring and measuring progress on anti-corruption and the effectiveness of anti-corruption strategies.

Research questions:

  1. How does anti-corruption relate to other institutional principles highlighted by SDG 16?
  2. What are current efforts to identify and assess corruption risks? How are countries addressing corruption risks in different sectors and at the systemic level?
  3. What international (both global and regional) instruments have been put in place to address corruption in different SDG areas (considering all relevant levels)? How have they performed?
  4. What national instruments have been put in place to address corruption (both prevention and sanction) in the public service at the national level (including local). Are these efforts aligned to initiatives to advance SDG16?
  5. Is there a need for more integration across initiatives that aim to address corruption in different sectors and at different levels?
  6. As a whole, are current efforts to curb corruption well aligned with the “needs” that stem from the available evidence across SDG areas? What areas for improvement can be identified?
  7. How are countries monitoring and measuring progress and assessing the effectiveness of anti-corruption reforms?

Chapter 3: Budget and planning processes as enablers of SDG implementation

This chapter would focus on how planning and budget processes can support institutions that foster SDG implementation. The interface between the international and national levels (through development aid, but also international law) would be examined in much more detail than was done in the WPSR 2018.

Research questions:

  1. How can planning and budget processes support institutional features such as transparency, accountability, anti-corruption, inclusiveness of decision-making processes, access to information, and non-discrimination?
  2. What have been innovative experiences in using planning and budgeting processes in different SDG areas?
  3. What information systems need to be associated with planning and budget processes in order to enable integrated approaches to sustainable development?
  4. How does the interface between national and supra-national planning and budgeting processes perform? How well is it aligned with the SDGs, and what may be directions for improvement?

Chapter 4: Risk management in public administration and the SDGs

The chapter will focus on the importance for public management of adopting uncertainty- and risk-informed perspectives across the whole set of SDGs. While this has been advanced as an important tenet of public management in areas such as health pandemics, financial crises, economic shocks, natural disasters and climate change, less attention perhaps has been put on area such as food and agriculture, ecosystem conservation, and others; and the implications for public institutions and public administration have likely not been fleshed out in a systematic way. Strategies put in place by public administration to address risk in various areas also have impacts on vulnerability and the most vulnerable groups in society.

The chapter will investigate the extent to which the incorporation of a risk perspective in public administration has changed or could change strategies, plans and policies in different areas. It will illustrate mechanisms and tools that exist today in public administration at different levels to identify and manage risk in different SDG areas; how countries are using them in different combinations, and point to relevant literature assessing the performance of such instruments (in a sense that will have to be defined), individually and as systems, in different contexts and circumstances; and collect expert advice on possible gaps and areas for progress.

All SDG areas will be used to illustrate the chapter. In addition, the chapter will focus more specifically on some among the following areas: SDG 2 (agriculture and food); SDG 3 (health); SDG 8 (economic shocks); SDG 6(water); SDG 14 (oceans); SDG 17 (financial crises); and the climate-land-energy-water nexus at the national level.

Research questions:

  1. Why is it important to incorporate uncertainty and risk management in public administration for the SDGs? How does it change strategies, plans and policies?
  2. What are major uncertainties and risks across SDG areas? Are there correlations among them? Do some of them warrant joint management?
  3. What is the status of development of risk-informed perspectives in public administration in different SDG areas at the national level?
  4. How do alternative strategies for managing risk affect vulnerable groups, and what are good practices in terms of including vulnerable groups in risk management processes?
  5. How can risk perspectives inform the management of nexus areas (e.g. climate, land, energy and water) and the associated synergies and trade-offs?

Chapter 5: Institutions for gender equality (SDG 5)


As a cross-cutting issue, gender equality has been the focus of much attention well before the adoption of the SDGs. In particular, institutional aspects of gender equality have been studied from multiple angles and disciplines. The array of instruments that are used to foster gender equality is vast, and ranges from constitutional and legal approaches, to regulatory approaches, to work within organizations, to attempts at shifting social norms, to the use of instruments such as gender-based planning and budgeting. Also, due to the cross-cutting nature of gender equality, actions in specific goal areas (e.g. access to water and sanitation, education, access to energy, poverty eradication, economic empowerment) also have important impacts on progress towards gender equality.

The chapter will take stock of the various instruments that have been used in different contexts, and map the literature from different disciplines that has examined how different types of institutions have performed, both individually and in combinations. This will be done both for core SDG 5 targets, and also for selected SDG targets that have a strong gender component.

Research questions:

  1. What are typical instruments used to promote gender equality in a systemic way at the national level, and how do they map to different principles highlighted in SDG 16?
  2. Based on the literature, what has been the effectiveness of various types of such institutions in different contexts?
  3. What are typical instruments used to promote gender equality in SDG target areas that have a strong gender component, and how do they relate to public administration?
  4. Based on available evidence, how have institutions in specific sectors been conducive to progress towards gender equality, individually and as a system?
  5. How broadly are cross-cutting gender tools (e.g. gender-based budgeting) used in different sectors, and how successful has their use been in terms of changing outcomes for women and girls?
  6. Are there common opportunities or challenges that can inform national efforts to empower women and achieve gender equality? How does context influence the effectiveness of institutional approaches in this regard?
  7. What specific recommendations could be put forward in order for public administration to effectively support gender equality?

World Public Sector Report 2018

Working Together: Integration, Institutions and the Sustainable Development Goals

The World Public Sector Report 2018 (WPSR 2018) examines how governments, public institutions and public administration can foster integrated approaches to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The report examines key challenges and opportunities for integrated approaches from the perspective of public administration, highlighting experiences from past decades both at the sectoral and cross-sectoral levels. It also examines how governments across the world have chosen to address existing interlinkages among the SDGs, and the implications of this for public administration and public institutions. The report thus aims to produce a comprehensive empirical analysis of policy integration for the SDGs at the national level, with a view to drawing lessons on how emerging initiatives aiming to policy and institutional integration might lead to long-term success in achieving the SDGs, in different developmental and governance contexts. Arguments made in the report are illustrated by concrete examples in relation to SDG goals, targets or clusters thereof. The report is built around two structuring dimensions: first, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals as an integrated and indivisible set of goals and targets; and second, the role of the government and public service, including the institutional aspect, in fostering sustainable development.

Public administration experts comment on the World Public Sector Report 2018

World Public Sector Report 2015

Responsive and Accountable Public Governance

The 2015 World Public Sector Report, titled Responsive and Accountable Public Governance, presents the need for public governance to become more responsive and accountable in order for the State to lead the implementation of a collective vision of 2030 sustainable development. Social and technical innovations are providing an opportunity for the social contract between the State and the citizenry to shift towards more collaborative governance, supported by effective, efficient, transparent, accountable, inclusive, equitable and responsive public institutions.


World Public Sector Report 2010

Reconstructing Public Administration after Conflict 

The 2010 World Public Sector Report brings to the fore a very critical issue - how to reconstruct public administration in post-conflict situations so as to enable it to promote peace and development in countries that have been affected by civil war and destruction. It is a question that has remained unresolved for decades and has brought poverty, despair, and death to people in many corners of the world. The Report shows that no progress can be made in promoting peace, development and protection of human rights unless appropriate governance and public administration institutions are established, leadership and human resources capacities are re-built, citizens are engaged in the process of reconstruction through decentralized participatory mechanisms and basic public services are delivered. In fact, unless newly established governments are able to provide essential public services to the population, including safety, security, health, education, shelter, access to water and sanitation and job opportunities, there will be no durable peace.The report also emphasizes that because post-conflict situations are heterogeneous, there are no "one size fits all" solutions to governance challenges. In each country, public administration reforms should be tailored to local needs. Finally, the report highlights that contrary to commonly held belief, post-conflict situations not only present challenges, but also offer numerous opportunities to leapfrog stages of development by adopting innovative practices in public administration, particularly through the application of ICTs in government and service delivery.

World Public Sector Report 2008

People Matter: Civic Engagement in Public Governance

The 2008 World Public Sector Report, People Matter: Civic Engagement in Public Governance, highlights the importance of civic engagement in public governance and by profiling several case studies, demonstrates how such practices gain the capacity to strengthen governance, make it more transparent and accountable and most importantly, contribute to developmental outcomes that are more sustainable, equitable and just. The Report also highlights several challenges and cautions that adequate attention must be given to the issues of power relations, institutional capacities of the government as well as the civil society organizations and adaptation of methodologies and strategies that suit the local conditions and other factors crucial to the introduction of successful civic engagement practices in public governance.


World Public Sector Report 2005

Unlocking the Human Potential for Public Sector Performance

As recommended by the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (UNCEPA), the third World Public Sector Report will be published in 2005, with a particular thematic focus on human resources management (HRM). More specifically, the report will explore how the human potential can be unlocked to enhance public sector performance. UNCEPA, at its Second Meeting in April 2003, stressed that human resources capacity was critical to the quality of public administration. The increasing complexity of both policy-making and administrative processes, as well as the erosion of human resources capacity to carry out those functions, are making it difficult for many Member States to implement national goals and strategies to reduce poverty and to promote sustainable human development, as emphasized in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


World Public Sector Report 2003

E-Government at the Crossroads

The World Public Sector Report 2003 presents a view of e-government as a tool for creating public value. It puts e-government development in the context of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the Report claims that meaningful e-government applications are those that support the environment conducive to human development and suggests that such an environment can be created by a conscious effort "world making". It discusses the special cases of e-participation and privacy, all as part of the main message the ICT by itself will not result in a different, better government, or higher quality of life, but that thoughtful reform and change must precede or go hand-in-hand with in the introduction of ICT to public administrative operations. The Report identifies development of a networked government, management of information and creation of knowledge as the most important e-government application of the future.


World Public Sector Report 2001

Globalization and the State 2001

Globalization, although not a new phenomenon, is unquestionably of paramount significance for all countries, developed or developing, rich or poor, large or small. What is globalization? How is globalization affecting the role and functions of the nation- State? Is globalization "good" or "bad"? Is there a universal understanding of its potential or its costs? Can all societies benefit from globalization? Are all States adequately prepared to enable their people to seize the opportunities of globalization while minimizing its negative effects? How should public administration systems be redesigned in view of the changes occurring at the global level? This Report, written in two parts, attempts to answer these and other essential questions in an objective and clear fashion, based on observed experience and the views of prominent experts on the matter. Part One deals with globalization and the State, and comprises five chapters. Part Two focuses on defining and measuring the size of the State.