Leveraging Public Budgets for the Sustainable Development Goals: The Case of Mexico

Posted by Lorena Rivero del Paso[1]

The 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted more than five years ago, leaving less than ten years to achieve these goals. This was already demanding before the pandemic, now with the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy, it is even more challenging. There is a need for governments to step up and speed up implementation and to leverage all the instruments at their disposal to achieve their targets. Public budgets—while not the only tool for financing the SDGs—have a primary role in directing priorities from an economic, political and legal standpoint. Therefore, budgeting for SDGs, is one of the most important tools that governments can use.

Mexico was one of the early movers in this arena. In 2016, the government[2], in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), developed a methodology building on different public[3] finance instruments, which allows the SDGs to be integrated into the planning, monitoring and evaluation phases of the budget. While there is no standard methodology of budgeting for SDGs, some elements of the Mexican methodology are interesting for other countries, these include:

Example of definition of sub-targets

Results and challenges

Linking public budgets to the SDGs, should be more than a mere identification process. While a good identification process is an important first step, budgeting for SDGs implies that the information is used for strategic and procedural decision-making. Therefore, consolidating the use of the information along the different stages of the budget cycle is a relevant challenge. Additionally, the recognition of “negative contributions” will be an important asset to develop complex interlinked networks.

One of the main concerns with long-term planning is the changes in priorities that come with changes in political administrations. In Mexico, even though provisions to link national planning to the SDGs were incorporated in the Planning Law in 2018, these aspirations were not explicitly integrated in the new National Development Plan 2019-2024. However, at a technical level, the integration of SDGs with the budget cycle instruments (program budgeting and performance evaluation) has kept the link alive.

In 2020, to help mobilize resources for the SDGs, Mexico became the first country to issue a Sovereign Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Bond. This seven-year bond for USD 890 million, is supported by the link of the SDGs to the budget.


[1] Lorena Rivero del Paso is a Technical Assistance Advisor at the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF. She was previously part of the Ministry of Finance of Mexico, leading the team developing the budgeting for SDGs effort.

[2] The Ministry of Finance and the SDG National Committee, which was overseen by the Office of the Presidency, led this work.

[3]The summary of the methodology can be consulted in English through:  https://www.transparenciapresupuestaria.gob.mx/work/models/PTP/Presupuesto/Documentos_anteriores/mexico_sdg.pdf

[4] SDG Indicators are classified into Tier 1 indicators that are conceptually clear, with international standards and data regularly produced. The difference with Tier 2 indicators is that data is not regularly produced. Tier 3 indicators do not have a clear methodology and/or sources and were not used in Mexico.

[5] When the program generates conditions that contribute to the target but does not address it directly.

[6] An additional type of contribution that was originally part of the methodology but not yet implemented was the identification of positive or negative contributions, which would have allowed recognizing trade-offs and co-benefits among the actions. This is important for many of the targets, but particularly to those related to the environment.

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