Cross-sectoral approaches to policy development are essential to meeting the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which define the post-2015 development agenda. Coherent policy development requires strategic, logical assessment of interlinkages, trade-offs and opportunities within and across sectors and over spatial and temporal scales. For many countries realising policy coherence is challenging. Research in southern Africa highlights differing degrees of policy coherence from partial to weak and this is typical of many developing countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Achieving sustainable development in the water, energy and food (agriculture) sectors requires policies that are closely aligned across sectors and with international commitments. National development strategies or policies should be developed to explicitly recognise climate change and the responsibilities of meeting the SDGs as key objectives. Sector policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure coherence with meeting these intentions. Institutional structures and processes that enable cross-sectoral coordination need to be established, enabled and resourced to support and encourage policy coherence as a prerequisite to effective implementation.