SDG 16 interlinkages: the role of Access to Information in COVID-19 recovery
Such interlinkages were studied by UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre (OGC) and the German Development Institute (DIE) between December 2020 and June 2021 through a systematic literature review of academic papers since 2015. In the context of the study, ‘SDG 16 interlinkages’ refer to the potential of SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Inclusion) to help or hinder progress on other SDGs (SDG 16 → other SDGs).
The review focused on links between key aspects of SDG 16 on the one hand (‘Entry Level’) and key aspects of SDG 1 (poverty reduction) and 10 (reducing inequality) on the other (‘Impact Level’). With this approach, a Web of Science query yielded 426 academic papers. Through screening, 60 papers were identified as most relevant for in-depth analysis.
The review found over 100 relevant interlinkages, grouped under three SDG 16 themes: Accountability (SDG Indicator 16.6); Participation and Inclusion (SDG Indicators 16.7 and 16.9); and Transparency (SDG 16.6 and 16.10).
As seen above, ‘Access to Information’ falls under the theme Transparency. Of the 60 reviewed papers, 20, covering evidence from more than 145 countries, identified evidence that increased transparency has positive effects on SDG 1 and SDG 10. A key focus for the studies related to the relationship between corruption and inequality and poverty include:
- Increased transparency in governance and the control of corruption are crucial for inclusive financial development, which, in turn, reduces income inequality. If corruption is controlled while domestic credit and finance increase, then income inequality will decrease.
- Corruption is less likely to occur when the likelihood of being caught and punished is relatively high; this largely depends on financial transparency, oversight, regulation and enforcement, and access to information. Factors such as education and awareness, an independent media and higher salaries also inhibit corruption.
- Controlling corruption results in greater access to health and education services. Increasing access to information also increases awareness of target populations and improves social protection programmes.
The review also mapped some causal pathways and feedback loops between the studied SDGs. The feedback loops (⤴) are important for identifying key entry points, interventions and accelerators that can deliver (or undermine) desirable outcomes. Below is one such feedback loop which relates to ‘Access to Information’.
The present research findings indicate that, when policymakers do invest in accountability, participation and transparency, their interventions on social protection, poverty reduction and reducing inequalities are more effective.
*** This case study is extracted from “SDG 16 Interlinkages: How does progress on SDG 16 affect progress on other SDGs?” by UNDP’s Oslo Governance Centre and German Development Institute/ Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE): https://www.sdg16hub.org/topic/sdg-16-interlinkages-summary-findings