lnstitutionalising Leaving No One Behind: a meta-analysis on worldwide national effort
Jong, Eileen de
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At the heart of the United Nations 2030 Agenda lies the pledge to ‘leave no one behind’ (LNOB). The real challenge of the LNOB principle lies within the translation into national policy frameworks which is open to broad interpretation (e.g., Fukuda-Parr & Hegstad, 2018). LNOB has no legally binding obligations and thus relies on much national leeway (e.g., Biermann, Kanie & Kim, 2017; Vijge et al., 2020). Although literature has widely researched LNOB and has urged for an integrated and cross- cutting approach, such an approach has not been reflected in research itself as it has been fragmented and narrow. In addition, a comprehensive analysis on the actual implementation of LNOB in countries is lacking. To fill up these theoretical and empirical gaps, this research has two objectives: i) to provide an overview of how the institutionalisation of LNOB can be analysed on a national level combining both scientific and policy literature and ii) to provide an (empirical) overview of how countries have (not) institutionalised LNOB. It will aim to answer the following question: What are the enabling (institutional) conditions and gaps for reaching LNOB in implementing the SDGs at the country level? To answer this question a triangulation of methods was used. First, a literature study was done to create a single framework representing how LNOB should be institutionalised. This framework consists of 29 institutional aspects divided over five broader institutional mechanisms: policy coordination, policy coherence, inclusive participation, disaggregated data, and dedicated finance. Second, this framework was used to do a meta-analysis of 77 VNRS published from 2016-2021 to analyse how countries have (not) institutionalised LNOB. Third, a correlation analysis was carried out to identify the interlinkages between mechanisms taking on a cross-cutting approach. The results revealed that the institutionalisation of LNOB shows many gaps, especially in terms coordination and financing. LNOB finds its way into VNR reporting and to some extent into policy making but when it comes to actual institutional structures and mechanisms to drive commitment or accountability clear gaps can be identified. Overall, countries show a lack of political commitment and will to institutionalise LNOB. The results also showed that the institutionalisation of LNOB is interlinked, but more research is needed to fully understand how this could create conducive conditions to reach LNOB. Some policy recommendations have followed from this research but what the ‘real’ impact is of LNOB on institutional structures of countries, which is crucial in understanding the progress on LNOB, remains uncertain at this point. The uniqueness of this research lies within the replicability of the analytical framework in other studies, which could be key in understanding how to best institutionalise LNOB and thus how to reach the LNOB principle.