While the analysis of commitments provides a big picture of the policy landscape for an environmental issue, a policy instrument scan can provide details. This more detailed picture includes the mix of policies having an effect on your environmental issue, and an assessment of effectiveness of these policies in achieving positive change.
The policy instrument scan is designed to help you identify the mix of specific policy instruments that are having an influence on your environmental issues. For any given issue, policy instruments will be having an affect (positive or negative) on the entire causal chain, including drivers, pressures, the environmental state itself and the impacts of changes in the environmental state.
For example, consider river water quality. A number of policy instruments, such as in situ treatment and water quality standards, could have positive or negative impacts on the state of the water quality. Other impacts can come from the effects of municipal taxes driving as urban growth, infrastructure development reducing sewage discharges and food import programmes to compensate for a reduction in fish as a food source.
|Figure 25: Example policy instrument scan for water quality of riversIt is important to remember that there are a variety of diffent policy instruments available to governments.
It is important to remember that there are a variety of diffent policy instruments available to
governments. These different policy instruments can be categorized into general categories. Recall that Table 8 presented one way to categorize policy instruments, namely:
- Economic instruments (e.g., taxes, subsidies, tradable permits, etc.).
- Regulatory (e.g., laws and regulations).
- Direct expenditure (research and development, education and awareness, infrastructure projects, etc.).
- Institutional instruments (sector and cross-sector strategies, green procurement).
Such a categorization provides a checklist to help in the brainstorming process for the policy instrument scan. Besides national governments, lower levels of governments have policy-making power, as do corporations. The policies of these actors are equally important and would also need to be included in the analysis.
Policy instruments directed at water quality improvements in the Red River Basin of Canada
For the example involving the Red River in central Canada, STATE of water quality data reveals a trend toward increasing nutrient concentrations in the river, which flows into Lake Winnipeg (58 per cent increase downstream of the city of Winnipeg and the confluence of the Assiniboine and Seine Rivers during the period 1978–1999). One of the drivers is nutrient loading into the river from agricultural fields, and from sewage and storm water discharges from towns and cities along the Red River.
There are two strategy level documents which cite relevant targets for the nutrient loading pressure. The Canada-Manitoba Agriculture Policy Framework Implementation Agreement cites a 12 per cent reduction target for residual nitrogen on Manitoba farmland by 2008 and a 16 per cent reduction in average water erosion rates on Manitoba farmland (in Oborne 2005). Additionally, the provincial Department of Water Stewardship cites a target of a 10 per cent reduction in Manitoba-based nutrient loads to Lake Winnipeg by 2010 (in Oborne 2005).
A sampling of some specific policy instruments directed at the pressure of agriculture discharges and the state of nutrient concentrations in Lake Winnipeg include (Oborne 2005):
- Water export/interbasin transfers banned (regulatory instrument).
- Seventeen conservation districts established since 1970 (expenditure instrument).
- Riparian Tax Credit established (economic instrument).
- Land and Water diploma programme at Assiniboine Community College (expenditure instrument).
- Several watershed plans in development (institutional instrument).
- Nutrient Management Strategy completed (institutional instrument).