Orchestrating SDG policy: Assessing the use of orchestration as a governance mode to affect Sustainable Development Goal policy change
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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were finalised and adopted in 2015 to point a new direction for sustainable development and build on the earlier Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This presented an opportunity for input from multiple stakeholders such as non-state actors to the SDG process. Many believed that international organisations had become ineffectual and lacking the necessary authority to effectively influence. The purpose of this research was to examine the process and the impact of an indirect mode of governance, called orchestration on policy change. Successful orchestration requires three key sectors: namely, an orchestrator, an intermediary and a target actor. The identified orchestrator was the UNEP- World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) and the target actor was the policies of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) in their funding of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In this study, two intermediaries were involved: the National Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Rockefeller Foundation. Orchestration had been identified as a method to improve their influence. This orchestration was specifically focused on the GCRF, which in 2016 was the recipient of £1.5 billion from the British government to fund overseas aid over five years. Orchestration was carried out through the construction of a report highlighting urgent SDG related areas where funding was required. The report facilitated links between academics, international development practitioners, beneficiaries and users to encourage partnerships between researchers from different disciplines. To gauge the effect on policy change, a framework called Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) was used. The conditions for the formation of this framework are the collaboration of actors who seek to alter a common policy goal. This project views the actors participating in orchestration as a coalition working towards a common policy goal. Using the ACF model, the dynamic and external conditions were focused to gauge policy change. Orchestration served to highlight the complex nature of the SDGs and the intractable challenges brought on by inevitable interactions. Change was observed in all conditions, with the greatest effect in the learning condition. The UNEP-WCMC provided the ideational support, and the intermediaries fed the report into the decision-making arenas of the GCRF. The orchestration served to enlighten the GCRF on how to shape their future SDG direction and pinpointed the focus areas, which the GCRF in turn have redirected significant research funding towards these areas. The research has demonstrated the effectiveness of orchestration in affecting policy when favourable conditions are in place.