Guide to choosing the right tool(s)
This section is designed to further one's understanding of what should be considered when choosing a policy tool, and how this decision-making process fits within the broader context of environmental policy development. The section outlines a process that can be followed to select an appropriate tool or, a combination of tools, to meet a defined set of policy objectives.
The ?policy development cycle? illustrated in Figure 1 includes hyperlinks to detailed descriptions of each step within the policy development cycle. Each linked step offers insight on how to evaluate and select the right policy tool to strategically, effectively and efficiently develop a structure of tools that provide incentives and/or disincentives that are aimed at changing the activities of society towards meeting defined environmental goals.
Policy development cycle and choosing environmental tools
- Define policy objectives
- Determine the nature, context and risks of the environmental issue
- Determine the policy approach
- Choosing the right tool(s)
- Develop, refine and implement the most suitable tool(s)
- Monitor, evaluate and modify the tool if necessary
Environmental tools and policy development
Environmental policy, in its broadest sense, has two key elements:
- A specific goal or outcome. Examples include improving environmental quality by reducing contaminant emissions, minimizing waste, promoting recycling, eliminating exposure to toxic substances, conserving water and energy, reducing land disturbance, and reducing greenhouse gases.
- The means or mechanisms ? the environmental tools - by which the desired outcome will be met (through regulation, economic incentives, negotiated agreement, etc.).
To advance these two key elements of environmental policy, there are six primary steps that can be followed, which in combination reflect what is known as the ?policy development cycle?. As illustrated in Figure 1, the first three steps contribute to the development of the first element of environmental policy, defining the specific policy goal or outcome. The remaining three steps offer a strategy for selecting and monitoring the right tool (the means or mechanisms) to effectively reach the desired environmental goal or outcome.
Additional Resources: Choosing the right tool(s): evaluation table insight to the selection of the most suitable environmental policy tool to meet pre-established policy objectives.