The ‘New’ National Development Planning and Global Development Goals: Processes and Partnerships

Admos Chimhowu, David Hulme, Lauchlan Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The number of countries with a national development plan has more than doubled from about 62 in 2006 to 134 in 2018. More 80 per cent of the global population now lives in a country with a national development plan of one form or another. This is a stunning recovery of a practice that had been discredited in the 1980s and 1990s as a relic of directed economies and state-led development. Several factors have fostered this re-emergence but from about 2015 the momentum for producing plans has accelerated, driven in part by a need to plan for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Based on an analysis of 107 national development plans, and drawing insights from 10 case study countries, this paper analyses ‘new’ national development planning’ and identifies the types, content of the plans and their implications for the sustainable development agenda. The paper generates a typology of the ‘new’ national plans, analyses their characteristics and explores the ways in which the ‘new’ national development planning and the SDGs may interact. The study finds greater ownership and political control of the processes leading to plan production. It also finds that the plans vary in terms of the evidence used, the degree of internal consistency between different parts of the same plan, the process of developing the plan (inclusive or elite-driven), and the extent to which they are clear on how the plan will be financed. In contrast to 20th Century national development plans the new generation of plans are often underpinned by theories of collaborative rationality more than linear rationality. This new generation of national plans has been neglected by academic researchers and merits much greater examination especially to understand the ways in which their implementation can enhance achievement of SDGs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-89
JournalWorld Development
Early online date16 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • National planning, Sustainable Development Goals, economic planning, development planning, development policy, national strategy

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


Dive into the research topics of 'The ‘New’ National Development Planning and Global Development Goals: Processes and Partnerships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this