Environmental, social and economic systems need to be understood and analysed by appreciating their complexity. Some understanding of a system is a prerequisite to identifying leverage points, that is, where ‘seeds can be sown’. Acknowledging that there is no policy panacea (Ostrom 2007), various clusters of policies can then be deployed, and some degree of redundancy can be helpful as a policy safety net (Low et al. 2003). It is very difficult to predict whether a policy will work effectively to solve a cross-cutting issue without producing significantly perverse and unintended consequences. Attention to one element of a cross-cutting issue can lead to environmental problem shifting – both transboundary and trans-sectoral, or trade-offs and
spillovers (Kim and van Asselt 2016). Adaptive governance or management approaches are therefore required that use experimentation (Hoffmann 2011) to build on lessons learned rather than ‘reinventing the wheel’.
An effective response to cross‐cutting environmental policy challenges requires cooperation and collaboration among a multitude of actors and institutions across issues, sectors, levels and jurisdictions. The transformation pathway for achieving human dignity and environmental sustainability this century requires a whole-of-system approach that can catalyse rapid technological innovation and economic and cultural paradigm shifts.
Systemic Policy Approaches for Cross-cutting Issues