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Follow-up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals: alignment vs. internalization (Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law (RECIEL) Special Issue: The SDGs and International Environmental Law)

Follow-up and review arrangements will play a critical role in ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are effectively implemented, much of which will need to happen at the national level. This article examines the nature of commitments that countries have made and if follow-up and review arrangements currently planned are consistent with those. In particular, we consider the need to encompass both the global SDG targets and the nationally defined targets foreseen.

The authors also discuss the balance between following up and reviewing outcomes vis-à-vis behavior to achieve those outcomes. Following a review of current plans for follow-up and review, they further draw lessons from principal-agent theory and from the two predecessors of the SDGs, Agenda 21 and the Millennium Development Goals.

They conclude that increased attention and visibility of nationally defined and internalized targets is likely to enhance implementation effectiveness, and that they should therefore be accommodated in the follow-up and review systems.