IEA Training Manual - Module 5

6.6.2 Assessing policy coherence

Analysis of policy effectiveness focuses on comparing the actual and expected performance of a given policy, based on relevant performance criteria. As neither environmental issues nor policies can exist in isolation, any given environmental trend will be a combined result of interacting policies and natural factors, some of which are outside the control of human decision making.

For example, energy subsidies and increased energy consumption may have implications for air quality, overall material use and waste production, but also for global climate change. It may well be that a given policy deals well with one particular type of environmental impact, but fares poorly with another.

One tool for assessing these types of combined effects is an action-impact matrix (AIM). An example of an AIM is illustrated in Table 13. The AIM lists specific policy instruments in the first column, then assesses the effect of the policy, intended and unintended, on a range of environmental issues. Through such a thought process it is possible to identify interlinkages among policy effects, many of which will not be intuitive. In some instances, the positive effect of one policy might be completely neutralized by the negative effect of another policy.

The policy instrument scan may produce a lengthy list of policy instruments, which would be too difficult to work with given time and human resource constraints. Prioritizing the instruments in such a case would be necessary. Some criteria for selecting policies to include in a current environmental policy analysis include the following (not in order of importance):

  • Relevance to the environment.
  • Relevance for the public and decision-makers.
  • Link with key environmental priorities identified in the state of the environment and trends section.
  • Affecting the health, income and well-being of a large number of people.
  • Importance of policy response to an environmental situation that is:
    • physically severe
    • changing rapidly
    • irreversible
  • Related to the country’s international obligations.
  • Potential for policy to cause disruption or conflict.
  • Potential for easy and feasible solutions.
  • Uniqueness of current policy initiative for region.

Table 13: Simple example of an action impact matrix (AIM) (Source: Munasinghe 1993, as quoted in Atkinson et al. 1997)

Impacts on key sustainable development issues
Action/Policy Main objective Land degradation Air pollution Resettlement Others
Macroeconomic and sectoral policies Macroeconomic and sectoral improvements Positive effects because of removing distortions, Negative effects mainly because of remaining constraints
• Exchange rate • Improve trade balance and economic growth (-H)
(deforest open-access areas)
• Energy pricing • Improve economic and energy use efficiency   (+M)
(energy efficiency)
• Others   Investment decisions made more consistent with broader policy and institutional framwork
Investment projects investments Improve efficiency of        
• Project 1 (Hydro dam) • Use of project evaluation (cost-benefit analysis, environmental assessment, multi-criteria analysis, etc.) (-H)
(inundate forests)
(displace fossil fuel use)
(displace people)
• Project 2 (Re-forest and relocate)   (+H)
(relocate people)
(relocate people)
• Project N

Group Discussion

In plenary, choose five key policies from among those identified in your policy instrument scan.

Additionally, select four other environmental issues in your country. Develop an action impact matrix (AIM) similar to the example in Table 13.

Time: 30 minutes.


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- - 25 Oct 2013
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- - 28 Oct 2012
I would definitely chsooe the $ 5 million lifetime maximum. I have a friend (she's only 27) who has battled cancer and already used about $ 1.8 million in insurance benfits. She's had the policy for about 6 years and has a $ 4 million dollar lifetime maximum. If things continue, she will exhaust that maximum too.If anyone in your family gets cancer or HIV or some other terrible long term illness, $ 1 million will run out before you know it. Think about it you're paying an extra $ 40 a month for an extra $ 4 million in coverage. It will take you over 8300 years of paying $ 40 per month to make up for that extra $ 4 million dollars in coverage and that's only for one person, not four.It's unlikely anybody in your family will ever exhaust the $ 1 million in coverage but for 5 times as much coverage it's worth the extra premium.
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I've seen many circumstances where pepole exhaust the lifetime maximum on their policy.$ 1M sounds like a lot of money. However, it would be easy to go through a $ 1M lifetime maximum for a burn victim, a cancer patient, serious major trauma, etc.Which policy you should buy depends upon the level of risk you're willing to take.
Module 5 - Integrated analysis of environmental trends and policies
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