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Sustainability in policy evaluation reviewed

17.06.2009 - (idw) Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung gGmbH

Political decisions more frequently based on systematic Impact Assessments / Experts recommend coordinated improvement and implementation of evaluation methods Berlin/Brussels, 17 June 2009 - Identifying the effects of political measures on environment, economy and society in advance becomes an important factor for decision-making. Furthermore, taking stock of the achieved outcomes after implementation remains important, such is the résumé of the conference "Sustainable Development in Policy Assessment - Methods, Challenges and Policy Impacts" held in Brussels on June 15th and 16th.

Over two days, experts of policy evaluation discussed the status quo and future of the assessments of social and ecological aspects as a basis of decision-making in the policy of the European Union and its Member States.

"Since 2005, Impact Assessments are compulsory for any legislative proposals in the European Union. Until nowadays, about 600 Impact Assessment have been carried out, two thirds of them changed the original proposal prepared by the Commission staff", explained Robin Miège, Head of Unit Sustainable Development and Economic Analysis at DG Environment of the European Commission. "Impact Assessment has helped to prepare and pass difficult legislation, for example in the field of chemistry policy".

The knowledge provided by Impact Assessments contributes to policy-making, but we need "better policy-making which includes organisational learning and change", declared Prof. Colin Kirkpatrick, University of Manchester. "A crucial bottleneck is the science-policy interface", stated Dr. Frieder Rubik, senior expert on policy evaluation from the Institute for Ecological Economy Research, Berlin. "Independent boundary organisations are needed which link both spheres".

Sharing past experiences allowed for exchanges in the assessment community. The expert discussions showed that Impact Assessment will require further development. Particularly, the consideration of social and ecological impacts still has some weaknesses. Anneke von Raggamby, expert for Impact Assessment of the Ecologic Institute Berlin stated: "In order to address sustainability in Impact Assessments in a well-balanced manner, an appropriate set of evaluation tools is needed. Therefore, it was important to bring together the expert knowledge of actors involved in this field. The networking triggered by the conference is a key factor for developing and standardizing the European Impact Assessment - also at the Member State-level."

The conference took place in the context of the research project "Evaluating Policies for Sustainable Development (EPOS)", which establishes a network of leading European institutions active in the field of social-ecological policy evaluation.

Over 120 scientists and practitioners in consulting, politics and administration from more than 20 countries took part in the Brussels-held conference and discussed their experiences with aligning policy evaluation on sustainability issues.

The conference was organised by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW) and Ecologic Institute Berlin. EPOS is a research project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of social-ecological research (SÖF).
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