Achieving sustainable, equitable and resilient societies is humankind’s challenge for the 21st century. In pursuit of this ambition, the international development community needs a shared, universal framework, within which to work more closely together. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the obvious answer, but a number of technical, political and organisational challenges prevent development co-operation providers from using them as their common results framework. Based on seven case studies, this publication identifies two critical factors and one game changer that can help overcome those challenges. First, country leadership needs to be supported by the international community. Second, development partners need to change their set-ups in order to deliver on the SDGs. Finally, by forcing governments and development partners to reset their long-term strategies and rethink their internal systems, the COVID-19 pandemic provides them with a rare opportunity to use the SDG framework collectively as a roadmap to recovery: this can be a game changer.