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5. Scaling up promising policies, practices from the regions

GEO-5’s regional assessments identified policy responses/instruments based on best practice adopted successfully in one or more regions that would speed up the achievement of internationally agreed goals include:



Integrated water resource management; conservation and sustainable use of wetlands; promotion of water-use efficiency; water metering and volumetric-based tariffs implemented at a national or sub-national level; recognizing safe drinking water and sanitation as a basic human right/need; effluent charges.


Market-based instruments for ecosystem services, including Payment for Ecosystems Services (PES) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+); increasing the extent of protected areas; sustainable management of protected areas; transboundary, biodiversity and wildlife corridors; community-based participation and management; sustainable agricultural practices.

Climate change 

Removing perverse/environmentally harmful subsidies, especially on fossil fuels; carbon taxes; forestry incentives for carbon sequestration; emission trading schemes; climate insurance; capacity building and financing; climate change preparedness and adaptation such as climate proofing infrastructure.


Integrated watershed (catchment) management; smart growth in cities; protecting prime agricultural land and open space; no till and integrated pest management and/or organic agriculture; improved forest management; PES and REDD+; agroforestry and silvo-pastoral practices.


Registration of chemicals; extended producer responsibility; product redesign (design for the environment); life cycle analysis; reduce, reuse and recycle (3Rs) and cleaner production; national and regional hazardous waste treatment systems; control of inappropriate export and import of hazardous chemicals and waste.


Increased international cooperation in the area of transfer and application of energy saving technologies; promotion of energy efficiency; increased use of renewable energy; feed-in tariffs; restriction on fossil fuels subsidies; low emission zones within cities; research and development, especially on batteries and other forms of energy storage.

Oceans and seas

Integrated coastal zone management (ridge-to-reef); marine protected areas; economic instruments such as user fees.

Environmental governance

Multi-level/multi-stakeholder participation; increased introduction of the principle of subsidiarity; governance at local levels; policy synergy and removal of conflict; strategic environmental assessment; accounting systems that value natural capital and ecosystem services; improved access to information, public participation and environmental justice; capacity strengthening of all actors; improved goal setting and monitoring systems.


Each region found, however, that even where such apparently successful policies more widely implemented, there is little confidence that some of the current global environmentally adverse trends would be reversed – innovative approaches are definitely needed. Furthermore, alongside the wise selection of policies, there is an increasing need to shift away from dealing with the impacts of environmental degradation and tackle the underlying drivers. Regulatory, market- and information-based policies that actually change human and corporate behaviour can become true levers of transformative change. In addition, many of the policies examined were successful, in part, due to the enabling environment or local context. It follows, therefore, that the transfer and replication of policies, although a commonly observed approach, always requires careful examination of the local context and a full sustainability assessment before proceeding.

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