What is policy coherence?
Policy Coherence is defined by the OECD as the systematic promotion of mutually reinforcing policy actions across government departments and agencies creating synergies towards achieving the agreed objectives. Within national governments, policy coherence issues arise between different types of public policies, between different levels of government, between different stakeholders and at an international level.
Why is Policy Coherence Important?
From a development perspective, policy coherence implies that, in pursuing domestic policy objectives in areas such as trade, agriculture, the environment or migration, governments should, at a minimum, avoid negative consequences and spillovers which would adversely affect the development prospects of poor countries. More positively, policy coherence for development implies that, in designing its domestic policies, governments should actively look for ways to exploit the potential for positive spillovers and consequences for developing countries in the way it pursues these domestic objectives.
The policy coherence argument is that there should be a ‘development-proofing’ of existing and proposed policy interventions across all domestic policies. It is clearly not going to be the case that only the interests of developing countries will drive domestic policies in each area, but developing country voices should be heard. Where there are alternative interventions possible to achieve the domestic objective, the domestic policy with the greatest coherence with development policy objectives should be chosen.
Implications of Pursuing Policy Coherence for Development
A commitment to pursue Policy Coherence for Development creates challenges and opportunities for development policy. We need to know:
- How are developing countries affected by domestic policy reforms?
- Could the EU achieve its domestic policy objectives in ways which were more consistent (more policy coherent) with the interests of developing countries?
- What should the EU do to assist developing countries which might be made worse off by these reforms? How could EU development cooperation policy be reshaped or redirected in order to enable developing countries to take better advantage of opportunities created by domestic policy reforms?
Coherence between Agricultural Policy and Development Objectives
Monitoring the policy coherence effects of EU agricultural policy is particularly relevant. The EU has designed a complex system, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), to achieve its domestic agricultural and rural policy objectives. Critics believe that this policy fails to deliver on these objectives while, at the same time, doing great damage to the developing world. Others point to the positive benefits delivered by the CAP for EU agriculture and rural areas, and highlight the generous range of trade policy and development cooperation instruments which the EU has put in place to benefit developing countries and to provide a remunerative market for their agri-food exports.
The importance of this debate is underlined by the ongoing debate on reform of the CAP, which provides an opportunity to help to shape it to make it more consistent with developing country interests..
The OECD Policy Coherence website
Website for the OECD initiative on policy coherence for development which explores ways to ensure that government policies are mutually supportive of the countries’ development goals
OECD, Policy Coherence for Development: Lessons Learned (PDF), 2008
This Policy Brief focuses on the steps needed to make progress in promoting coherence for development in OECD country policies based on a synthesis of OECD/DAC peer reviews 2003-2007.
OECD, Agriculture: Improving Policy Coherence for Development (PDF), 2008
This useful Policy Brief explains the importance of agricultural for development and looks at how the OECD is using its multidisciplinary policy expertise to help governments to promote policy coherence for development in agriculture.
OECD, Ministerial Declaration on Policy Coherence for Development (PDF), 2008
Within the context of global interdependence and in view of contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), this Declaration reaffirms the commitment of OECD members to PCD. The Declaration refers to key sectors where PCD should be taken into account, including environment, agriculture, migration, energy and security.
OECD, Policy Coherence: Vital for Global Development (PDF), 2003
Short 8 page brief which explains why policy coherence is vital for development