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Many policymakers are responding to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by integrating multiple economic, social and environmental concerns into their development plans. Much of the recent research on SDGs has sought to help policymakers with this cross-sectoral integration by developing evidence-based models and analytical frameworks that can identify linkages across a wide range of issues. Fewer studies have examined the governance arrangements needed to align agency and other stakeholder interests behind integrated solutions. This is a significant gap because policymakers will need to understand both issue linkages and governance arrangements that can help align interests to make integrated solutions effective.

This study has aimed to fill that gap by determining whether and to what extent three different dimensions of governance—horizontal coordination, vertical coordination, and multistakeholder engagement—affected narrowly drawn efforts to mitigate climate change and achieve other development objectives. The study sought to draw lessons from a series of case studies focusing on the governance arrangements that supported 1) co-benefits, 2) sustainable transport, 3) integrated solid waste management and 4) the water-energy-food nexus in the Asia-Pacific region. Overall, the case studies suggest that the greater the number and diversity of issues in an integrated solution, the more countries will need to strengthen institutional structures and enhance decisionmaking processes to advance that solution.

However, more coordination within and engagement beyond government may not be needed for all integrated solutions. Particularly when there are already close relationships between issues and sufficient capacities to manage related interests, less coordination and engagement may save time and resources. This suggests that policymakers and researchers may want to take a step back from advocating for multi-level, multi-stakeholder governance for all integrated solutions. Instead, such recommendations are arguably better seen as contingent, depending on the content of the integrated solution and other factors such as the capacity of relevant agencies to coordinate different interests.

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