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Open AccessArticle

Common But Differentiated Governance: A Metagovernance Approach to Make the SDGs Work

by Louis Meuleman 1,2,*,† and Ingeborg Niestroy 3,4,†
1
Department of Governance Studies, VU University, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2
Center for Governance and Sustainability of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA 02125, USA
3
International Institute for Sustainable Development, Ottawa, ON K1P 5Z9, Canada
4
Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU), Free University of Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Sustainability 2015, 7(9), 12295-12321; https://doi.org/10.3390/su70912295
Received: 7 July 2015 / Revised: 7 August 2015 / Accepted: 1 September 2015 / Published: 9 September 2015
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable development goals; SDGs; common but differentiated governance; CBDG; metagovernance; sustainability governance; hierarchical governance; network governance; market governance; implementation; review sustainable development goals; SDGs; common but differentiated governance; CBDG; metagovernance; sustainability governance; hierarchical governance; network governance; market governance; implementation; review
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Meuleman, L.; Niestroy, I. Common But Differentiated Governance: A Metagovernance Approach to Make the SDGs Work. Sustainability 2015, 7, 12295-12321.

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