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Chapter Three: Policy Responses

Global and regional synthesis

- MEAs and non-binding instruments
- Laws and institutions
- Economic instruments
- Industry and new technologies
- Financing environmental action
- Public participation
- Environmental information and education
- Social policies
- References

-- Africa



 KEY FACTS
 

*  Policy assessment is made particularly difficult because of uneven monitoring, poor and missing data, and a lack of indicators. Continuous reporting and data on the environmental situation before and after implementation of policies are virtually non-existent.
*  Agenda 21 has had an impact on environmental governance and led to the creation or strengthening of multi-stakeholder organizations in many countries.
*  Many new environmental institutions have to compete for staff and budgets with older and more powerful agencies, suffer from a serious lack of resources, and are easily overwhelmed by the ever-growing and more complex national and international legislation.
*  Governments spend more than US$700 000 million a year subsidizing environmentally-unsound practices in the use of water, agriculture, energy and road transport.
*  Governments in all regions have made substantial efforts to encourage industries to adopt cleaner production methods, with major successes in a number of countries.
*  Harnessing private capital flows may be more important than increasing public capital flows but much more will need to be done to ensure that private investment is not used for unsustainable forms of development and that the poorest countries receive a much higher share.
*  Public participation enables individual knowledge, skills and resources to be mobilized and fully employed, and the effectiveness of government initiatives to be increased.
*  There is a need not just for more data on environmental issues but for standardizing data collection and storage, and making it accessible to technical and management levels, and the public.

 

This chapter describes the different types of policy response that are being used to address environmental issues, and tries to assess their success or failure. Quantitative assessment of the success or failure of policy initiatives and developments is not an easy task. Four questions need to be addressed:

The last two questions are particularly hard to answer because of uneven monitoring, poor and missing data, and a lack of indicators, continuous reporting and data on the environmental situation before and after implementation. Furthermore, there are no proper mechanisms, methodologies or criteria to determine which policy contributes to which change in the state of the environment. It is usually impossible to single out a specific action or policy as having a particular impact; linkages between human actions and environmental outcomes are still poorly understood. In addition, political developments and bad governance can easily nullify the potential benefits of policy instruments.

Such problems often prevent valid comparisons between the current situation and what would have happened had no policy action been taken. The case of CFCs, where the sources are almost entirely man-made, regulations are so stringent that the impact on emissions is clear, and the impact of changes in emission levels on the natural environment is well known, is a rare exception. In general, a more complete and precise analysis will require the development of better mechanisms for monitoring and assessing the effects of environmental policies on environmental quality.

This chapter includes a general introduction followed by descriptions of policy responses in the seven GEO regions. The analysis is conducted in terms of eight policy clusters:


UNEPGEO-2000 Next: MEAs and non-binding instruments -->
Previous: Chapter Three: Policy Responses 
Contents