The implementation of the common and universally applicable United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires differentiated governance frameworks at all levels, as it falls short to use one governance style only—hierarchical, network or market governance—or any one style combination that is believed to be fit-for-all-purposes. The article introduces the guiding principle of “Common But Differentiated Governance” (CBDG) and illustrates how this principle can make the SDGs work. It will be shown that, after more than 15 years’ experience with the concept of “metagovernance” (how to combine different governance styles into successful governance frameworks), there seems to be some convergence towards using this as comprehensive approach to achieve situationally appropriate governance frameworks. In this article, we have elaborated how policy makers could use metagovernance, combined with key governance principles, as mechanism to support analysis, design and management of SDG governance frameworks, to make failures noticed, and to suggest mitigation measures. Metagovernance respects common principles like rule of law, but takes as starting point that there may be different pathways to achieve them. A possible step-by-step approach for SDG implementation with metagovernance is proposed, as well as establishing governance support arrangements to assist process design, review, monitoring and evaluation, at least at the national level.
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