Welcome to the United Nations

Areas of Work: Policy Coherence

UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Policy Coherence is essential to a balanced implementation of sustainable development across its economic, social and environmental dimensions. It means developing mutually reinforcing policies across all relevant sectors and government departments so that policies work together to effectively achieve national development goals, minimizing the negative impacts that policies in one area can have on policies in another area. This requires institutional, analytical and statistical capacities to identify and assess synergies and trade-offs between different policy options and to develop mutually reinforcing policies that can tackle development challenges in a holistic manner. Most governments are confronted with the challenge of designing coherent policies and developing the necessary capacities to be equipped to do so. This includes developing and setting up sound institutional arrangements that promote policy coordination and integration; strengthening quantitative and analytical skills to assess trade-offs and synergies of different policy options; and increasing the production and access to sound data for policy analysis and formulation.


UN DESA encourages the sharing of global, regional and national perspectives to strengthen integrated policy assessments and formulation at all levels. It produces economic research and analyses on global macroeconomic trends and economic forecasts for a large range of economies worldwide and develops an array of modelling tools, methodologies and approaches that can help strengthening integrated policy analysis and the formulation of mutually reinforcing policies across sectors and government departments.

HOW – Delivery Modalities and Resources

UN DESA leverages its analytical products, modelling tools and methodologies to help strengthen the capacities of government officials, institutions and other national stakeholders, including the UNCTs, to conduct sound, multisectoral country level analyses, including Common Country Analysis (CCA), and strengthen the science-policy interface to effectively translate global and regional outlooks, scenario and risk analyses into country specific policy guidance for sustainable development policies.

Support to government officials and UNCTs is delivered through knowledge networks, technical advisory services and longer-term capacity development support – e.g. to run and interpret modelling scenarios to answer specific national policy questions and to effectively communicate key results to policymakers, using quantitative modelling tools.

Key UN DESA tools and resources to build capacity for policy coherence:

Knowledge products

  • World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP): a flagship publication on the state of the world economy developed in cooperation with the UN regional commissions and UNCTAD; and the WESP Monthly Briefing series;
  • UN DESA Policy Brief series and Policy Analyses on relevant, macroeconomic issues and challenges worldwide as well as occasional regional and country specific prospects;
  • World Social Report (WSR) on the impact of megatrends – such as inequality, technological innovation, climate change, urbanization and international migration – on social development;
  • Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), prepared by an Independent Group of Scientists coordinated by UN DESA and aimed at strengthening the science-policy interface;
  • UN Forum on Forests Flagship Report on the Progress Towards Global Forest Goals and Targets (under development), that highlights the interlinkages between the Global Forest Goals and targets and the SDG-forest related goals and targets;
  • UN DESA Covid-19 policy briefs.
  • World Public Sector Report: The World Public Sector Report aims to document key trends in the institutional arrangements adopted by countries to implement the 2030 Agenda, and to assess some of the strengths and weaknesses of those arrangements in relation to the performance of key functions of the policy process


Modelling Tools and Methodologies

  • World Economic Forecasting Model (WEFM): a macro-econometric modelling tool to produce globally consistent economic forecasts for approximately 180 countries. The WEFM also provides a framework for scenario analysis, allowing researchers to study the behaviour of key macroeconomic and development indicators (such as GDP, inflation, unemployment, current account, fiscal balance, poverty rate) under different scenarios;
  • Open source modelling tools designed to help track the complex interactions of different dimensions of sustainable development. Countries are using these tools to move forward on core objectives such as achieving sustainable economic growth, tackling climate change and advancing social inclusion. Tools include the Climate, Land-use, Energy and Water Systems analysis and model (CLEWS), for simultaneous consideration of food, energy and water security, Geo-spatial electrification access modelling, to determine the most cost-effective strategies to bring electricity to specific localities and Economy-wide and Microsimulation methodologies to assess how different policy choices and external shocks may impact a variety of economic and social inclusion indicators.

Knowledge Platforms and Networks

  • United Nations Economists Network (UNEN): coordinated by the Chief Economist and open to all interested UN agencies, RCO economists and UNCT members. The network is intended to i) facilitate collaboration and joint work among members on issues of shared interest and relevance to the sustainable development agenda and ii) support RCOs/UNCTs to address economic, financial and social policy issues;
  • Online Platform: One of the three components of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM), which is intended to provide a gateway for information on existing STI initiatives, mechanisms and programs;
  • Science and Technology roadmaps for the SDGs: part of an ongoing pilot programme to support national science and technology planning and capacity development for the SDGs.

In This Category

Together, we will help the world rise stronger

As the COVID-19 pandemic carves its dark entry into the history of humankind, causing serious illness and death, and upending daily life as we know it, UN DESA is supporting the world to contain the calamity and emerge from it more resilient and united.“UN DESA stands...