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The effectiveness of the thousands of policy innovations cannot be assessed comprehensively; a case-by-case approach is needed to make evaluations. The effectiveness of different policy instruments cannot be compared given the multiple market failures, including, among others, the lack of price signals, lack of information and network effects. There is no evidence, for example, to support claims of a general superiority of market-based instruments over regulatory or persuasive ones. The analysis presented here by GEO-6 does show evidence, however, for the need to combine different policies into complementary policy mixes of clusters. Despite the recognition that coherent policy mixes are often more effective than stand-alone policies, the interplay of instruments within mixes is not well understood, aside from the rather broad understanding that some policy instrument types do not necessarily work well with others.


Effective and ambitious environmental policies are often contested by the sectors affected. Their design, and the level of ambition, is usually the subject of negotiation in the policy process, during which environmental actors usually need to find compromise. Second-best environmental policies are often adopted as a result. For many issues and in many countries, environmental policy does not make use of potentially powerful mixes of price signalling and hard regulation. Instead, mechanisms of persuasion, self-regulation or subsidy are introduced. Chapters 12-17 also find, finally, that vested rights and interests are often not touched on, with environmental policies instead focusing on new products or sites, by having permitting procedures for development projects, for example.


Once environmental policies have been established successfully, their scaling up has been observed. Moreover, new opportunities and capacities for advancing policies, and for raising the level of ambition over time have been observed once the technical, social and economic feasibility has been demonstrated and markets for environmentally friendly alternatives have been created. In a few cases, these opportunities were built into the policy design from the very beginning. The commitment for a continuous improvement of policies over time could be applied much more often than it is today, in the manner of the so-called ratchet mechanism of the Paris Agreement on climate change (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC] 2015).


In view of the challenges outlined above, there is an emerging consensus that the design of policy instruments is at least as important as the choice of the instrument, for the effectiveness of individual policies and policy mixes (Yin and Powers 2010; Flanagan, Uyarra and Laranja 2011; Kemp and Pontoglio 2011). The temporal dynamics of policy change, how and why specific policies stick (or fail to stick) and how policy choices interact in an increasingly complex policy mix all need to be better understood. As these lessons are learned over time, the level of ambition is expected to increase – especially, as the GEO-6 finds, if environmental policies prove to have economic and social co-benefits.


Added to the observation that environmental policies are being scaled up within national borders, they are also diffusing across jurisdictions. Other countries, regions or communities are taking up and adapting the examples of pioneering countries. Some publicly available data sets aim to facilitate the charting of this diffusion, particularly for policies on climate


change and renewable energy. The Climate Change Laws of the World database from the London School of Economics (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment 2017), for example, compiles information on national-level climate policies ranging from transport policy to adaptation and mitigation. Similarly, REN21’s Global Status Report (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st


Century


[REN21] 2018) charts the use of renewable energy policies across a large sample of national and subnational jurisdictions. InforMEA, finally, is the United Nation’s portal for information on multilateral environmental agreements (UNEP, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO] and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] 2018).


Despite the prolonged interest in the spatial diffusion of environmental policies, and efforts to provide systematic policy information on it, knowledge about this particular aspect of policy development remains limited, especially outside the specific policy field of renewable energy. There is also a lack of research on the role of local contexts on the effectiveness of policies adopted from abroad. There is some evidence that less ambitious policies (e.g. distributional rather than re-distributional policies) are the subject of policy diffusion more often than cross-jurisdictional policies. This is in spite of the fact that policy diffusion may be considered a positive mechanism for learning across different jurisdictions – often facilitated by international regimes and multilevel governance.


The GEO-6 analysis finds that the importance of good policy design for the effectiveness of environmental policies cannot be overstressed. Mickwitz et al. (2009, p. 12) list some common elements of good design:


v set a long-term vision and avoid crisis-mode policy decisions, through inclusive, participatory design processes;


v establish a baseline, quantified targets and milestones; v conduct ex ante (before implementation) and ex post (after implementation) analyses of cost-benefit or cost- effectiveness to ensure the best use of public funds;


v build in monitoring regimes during implementation, preferably involving affected stakeholders; and


v evaluate the policy outcomes and impacts, to close the loop for improving future policy design.


Despite this comprehensive list, assessments of policy effectiveness both ex ante and ex post against a baseline are usually missing, even for well-designed policies. The analysis finds that policy evaluation tools are rarely used. An evidence base for measuring policy effectiveness is therefore lacking because it is difficult in many cases to attribute effects to environmental policies, and whether these effects would have taken place without the policies. Impact assessments and policy evaluations are not being applied in a systematic way. Therefore, while the analysis of indicators, and the distance still to go to reach the goals, suggests that environmental policies are not yet sufficiently effective to achieve sustainable development, the analysis cannot reveal which policies and policy instruments are more effective or efficient than others.


There is no universally accepted methodology that can show causal relationships between the effects and the policies adopted, and unequivocal answers on policy effectiveness


Conclusions on Policy Effectiveness 455 18


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