What is coherence?

Definitions of coherence are abundant but share a few similarities. In general, coherence describes a state or quality of something. This quality holds certain characteristics, which can be described as:

  • a systematic and logical connection;
  • a consistency;
  • an integration of different or diverse elements, relationships or values;
  • forming a unified whole
  • the establishment of synergies between different policies with regard to overarching goals (Ashoff, 2010).

To sum up

The importance of coherence across sectors, whether in government, in academia, or in the private sector, has always been observed and reiterated. Synergies identified from an improved knowledge base can generate better policies and practices. For example, if climate data is taken into account in DRM, risk analyses become more reliable. Greater coherence allows for a more efficient use of resources.

Other Discussions

Despite the relevance of coherence, there is no agreement regarding the usage of the term. Other discussions or terms are briefly mentioned here:

Frequently, the terms mainstreaming and integration are used interchangeably. They both can refer to the processes of integrating climate change adaptation or disaster risk reduction into sectoral and development plans, policies and strategies to achieve sustainable development. In other words, one can mainstream a particular topic or sector into another one by analyzing the current and future effects of one’s primary sector onto the secondary. One might then identify adaptation options to minimize risks and incorporate beneficial options.

Mainstreaming has been defined as:

the integration of climate change considerations in planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring processes (United Nations Development Programme & United Nations Environment Programme, 2011).

Click here to read a summary of the UNU study on the costs and benefits of coherence and incoherence to develop a better understanding of how and to which extent potential synergies between the post-2015 global agendas should be used.

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