Step 1: define policy goals and objectives

The first step in choosing a tool concerns the development of a clear environmental objective/policy goal for which an environmental tool(s) is required. Ideally, environmental policy goals should be established through systematic issue identification, risk assessment, prioritization, and strategic planning to characterize the need for appropriate environmental action to address a particular problem/activity. Further, the importance of other public policy and political ? both social and economic ? should be considered when defining environmental policy goals and objectives.

Examples of goals/objectives include improving environmental quality by reducing contaminant emissions, minimizing waste, promoting recycling, eliminating exposures to toxic substances, conserving water and energy, reducing land disturbance, and reducing greenhouse gases.

Once policy goals or objectives have been clearly established, the remaining steps will guide the choice of an appropriate tool or, as is most often the case, a combination of tools, to meet policy goals and objectives.

A note on stakeholder involvement:
Stakeholders (government, industry, non-governmental organizations and others) can all contribute to the resolution of an issue. Therefore, consider and include stakeholders when possible, in the policy development and decision making process. S takeholder engagement is often the most critical factor to the success of an environmental policy initiative.

Some factors to consider when identifying and selecting stakeholders to include in policy development include: location, the nature of the environmental issue, jurisdictional and departmental responsibilities, and legal frameworks.

For more information on stakeholder involvement within the Alberta context, please visit Alberta Environment's Getting Involved: Initiatives.

In some circumstances (such as a response to an urgent environmental risk) it may be appropriate to bypass the inclusion of stakeholders.