Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the National Development Plan

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News Article

This news item was originally published in the SDG Bulletin South Africa's April 2018 edition by Msingathi Sipuka

SDG Domestication refers to the localisation of the sustainable development goals to ensure integration into existing National, Provincial and local plans, strategies and budget allocations. This process typically takes the form of a mapping exercise to: The outcome of this mapping exercise will inform government of the existing gaps and/or confirm that the National Plan adequately incorporates the SDG framework within the specific national context. If the former is applicable, a process of aligning the two agendas is initiated with the ultimate objective of ensuring the highest possible alignment between the global and local agendas. Once alignment is assessed and convergence is confirmed, the real duty of government and the rest of society is to direct all efforts towards the implementation of the National Plan. The role of the United Nations in this process is to assist the country to develop a comprehensive implementation roadmap, using the Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) approach. This approach ensures the participation of all sectors of society including government, civil society, private sector, development and philanthropy sectors. Inherent within this approach is the need to ensure that the global agenda complements the national agenda, and thus creating a seamless process of implementing one programme instead of multiple competing programmes. Indeed, the key requisite for successful adoption and implementation of the SDGs is national ownership.

Mapping the SDGs to South Africa’s National Development Plan

As part of the process of domesticating the SDGs in South Africa, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in partnership with the United Nations conducted a mapping exercise which sought to assess the convergence between South Africa’s National Development Plan and the SDGs. The mapping closely follows the UNDPs Rapid Integrated Assessments (RIA) methodology used in assessing alignment of National Plans against the SDG targets. The mapping exercise concluded that 74% of the SDGs are reflected in South Africa’s National Development Plan, while 26% of the SDGs are not reflected. Interestingly, of the 26% not reflected in the NDP, 73% are reflected in other sectoral strategies which means that they are part of the national planning system and only 27% of those not reflected in the NDP do not reflect anywhere mainly because they are not relevant to South Africa.


Following the mapping process, the United Nations is working with the South African Government to develop a comprehensive roadmap for the implementation of the SDGs. Whilst this is happening, several other processes are in place: Although there is a high inclination towards implementing the SDGs and achieving the national development goals, a glaring gap is the lack of institutional coordination across government and sectors. This, therefore to some extent, stifles the cascade and ownership of SDGs at provincial, local and ward levels. Efforts are underway to assist various provincial governments to align their provincial plans to both the NDP and SDGs as an initial step of domestication.

  • Establish the extent to which the National Plan and the SDGs converge; and
  • Identify gaps between the National Plan objectives and the SDG targets.
  • South Africa has translated the SDGs into all 11 official languages
  • A civil society coalition has been established, and is responsible for coordinating all efforts of civil society in the country aimed at contributing towards the SDGs. The civil society coalition is led by African Monitor
  • There is ongoing work to coordinate other sectors i.e. private sector; philanthropy sector