IEA Training Manual - Module 5

6.2 Steps in the analysis of existing policies

The policy analysis steps introduced in this section emphasize the need to link actual policy performance with criteria for policy performance. Policy performance criteria are expressions of expected outcomes related to the implementation of the policy, preferably in quantitative terms and with a time limit (for example, achieve a 20% reduction in the number of smog days within ten years). One of the common challenges with this approach is that performance criteria are implicit and assumed or simply unknown.

Most or perhaps all environmental change, however, is a result of not one but multiple influences and policies. There are many potential constellations of influencing factors that can lead to a given environmental change, though some of these are more common than others. For instance, agricultural land use, water quality and biodiversity are often interlinked through common impact pathways. However, while there is a high degree of certainty that choices related to the type and intensity of cultivation will have biodiversity and water quality implications, these interlnkages may shift over time and new, strong forces (e.g. climate change) may emerge.

This creates a number of challenges. Policies can be synergistic, but can also work against each other. What one observes as an environmental outcome is typically the net result of several policy forces reinforcing or attenuating each other’s effects. Attributing environmental change to any given policy can be difficult and introduces considerable complexity and uncertainty into the policy analysis process and its results. Approaching environmental policy analysis from the perspective of the policy mix is therefore necessary. Also, it is only through the analysis of the policy mix that opportunities for introducing new types of policies can be realized.

Considering the challenges but also the critical importance of policies and policy instruments in an IEA, this module introduces a five-step policy analysis process as outlined in Figure 24.

Figure 24: teps in the analysis of existing


  • Understanding the Issue – understanding what is happening to a specific aspect of the environment and why it is happening, and also what are the specific impacts on the environment and humanity are precursors to policy analysis. A methodology for understanding the issue was outlined in sections 4 and 5 of this module.
  • Policy report card – identifying the landscape of high level strategies, policies and policy goals, whether in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), regional treaties or national programs establishes the big picture and the extent of attention that is currently being given to the environmental issues. This step would also involve identifying policy perforance indicators in the context of which targets can be identified and interpreted and that also help track progress.
  • Policy Instrument Scan – identifying the mix of specific policy instruments that are currently influencing your environmental issue and how effective this mix has been (comparing actual versus intended effects) provides the foundation for further policy analysis. This analysis should also consider that most environmental issues are strongly linked to others, such as land use and water quality for instance. Therefore, the scan could also cover those policies that are targeting a strongly linked environmental issues and their impact is mediated due to issue interlinkages.
  • Policy Gap and Coherence Analysis – identifying if a relevant policy is not implemented, if a policy type is under-represented, and if policies are not focused on the relevant drivers or pressure, are all part of understanding the gaps in government policy. Additionally, policy influence is complex, given the dynamic and highly adaptive interrelationships among people, the economy and the environment. Policies can therefore have impacts that were not intended or anticipated. Assessing the positive and negative influence of policies on other policies is an important aspect of understanding policy coherence.
  • Policy Narrative Sheet – This step develops a summary of the key insights from the analyses carried out in Steps A through D. It is in this narrative where policy failures and successes, along with key policy gaps and opportunities for innovation and improvement are highlighted.

The steps are described below in detail in sections 6.3 through 6.8.


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- - 08 Jun 2012
Module 5 - Integrated analysis of environmental trends and policies
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