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Environmental Policy and Governance

Wiley Online Library : Environmental Policy and Governance

Published: 2017-09-01T00:00:00-05:00


Science-Policy-Practice Interfaces: Emergent knowledge and monarch butterfly conservation


We study how knowledge is produced at the intersection of science, environmental policy and public engagement. Based on analysis of monarch butterfly conservation, we critically evaluate models of knowledge production. The monarch butterfly and its migration have engaged science and enchanted people for over a century, and current threats to monarchs catalyze debates and actions. This paper traces the historical development of knowledge regarding (i) long-term monarch population trends, (ii) the monarch's dependence on a particular food plant, the milk-weed, and (iii) the monarch as a pollinator. Our analysis indicates that knowledge production and science–policy–practice interfaces cannot be satisfactorily understood through reference to the classical linear model and more recent conceptions of relationally produced knowledge (i.e. co-production). We identify powerful and sometimes contradictory knowledge claims that emerge from unmediated interactions among scientists, advocates, policy makers and diverse publics. The emergent model complements existing models of knowledge production, thereby expanding the conceptual foundation available for making sense of science–policy–practice interfaces. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Politics of Energy Transitions: A decade after Nigeria's biofuels crusade, a tale of non-commercialization and lost opportunities


There is a growing literature on the politics of sustainability transitions and its correlation with policy changes at the national level. This paper contributes to this debate by taking stock of energy transition processes in Nigeria's biofuels sector. It explores the socio-economic externalities that influenced the biofuels policy, how this policy process was negotiated and why it failed. Based on expert interviews and document analysis, it was observed that a drop in oil production and the need for economic diversification (GDP growth) created a favourable condition for the development of biofuels in 2005. However, the biofuels policy was insufficiently articulated when the window of opportunity opened. In the last 10 years, fluctuations in oil prices and changes in government have closed the window of opportunity for biofuels. Taken together, the results suggest that to successfully engineer transition, policy processes of this nature require a re-articulation of vision based on emerging externalities. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Why are Material Efficiency Solutions a Limited Part of the Climate Policy Agenda? An application of the Multiple Streams Framework to UK policy on CO2 emissions from cars


The Multiple Streams Framework is applied to investigate why material efficiency solutions are a limited part of the climate policy agenda. The case study under investigation is the UK agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emission from cars. Evidence from 14 semi-structured interviews, document analysis and academic studies is used to develop and substantiate the arguments made. In the UK, inefficient material use is only perceived as a problem in so far as it increases in-use vehicle emissions, which disadvantages some material efficiency solutions. The appeal of material efficiency solutions is further limited by a lack of real-world and modelling evidence, creating uncertainty around the anticipated costs and impacts of any policy intervention. Recent political developments are unlikely to make the UK government more receptive to the problem of greenhouse gases arising from inefficient material use in the future. This is further compounded by policy lock-in. Although a small community of policy entrepreneurs are promoting material efficiency solutions, they have disparate priorities, which impacts their effectiveness. The insights from this paper can inform future research and policy entrepreneurship to increase the likelihood of material efficiency solutions becoming a larger part of the climate policy agenda. The problem of climate change is too significant for any potential solutions to remain underexplored by policy-makers in the UK and the rest of the world. © 2017 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

An Approach to Assess Learning Conditions, Effects and Outcomes in Environmental Governance


We empirically examine relationships among the conditions that enable learning, learning effects and sustainability outcomes based on experiences in four biosphere reserves in Canada and Sweden. In doing so, we provide a novel approach to measure learning and address an important methodological and empirical challenge in assessments of learning processes in decision-making contexts. Findings from this study highlight the effectiveness of different measures of learning, and how to differentiate the factors that foster learning with the outcomes of learning. Our approach provides a useful reference point for future empirical studies of learning in different environment, resource and sustainability settings. © 2017 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Mapping Complexity in Environmental Governance: A comparative analysis of 37 priority issues in German water management


Environmental governance regularly has to cope with complex problems. However, ‘complexity’ has mostly been used as a heuristic concept and hardly made operable for empirical research. Drawing on psychological research on complex problem solving, we propose a structured operationalization of complexity in the five dimensions of (1) goals, (2) variables, (3) dynamics, (4) interconnectedness and (5) information uncertainty. Based on 65 semi-standardized expert interviews and 158 assessments of complexity degrees, we analyse and map 37 water-related problems in Germany with regard to their complexity. We find that these problems tend to exhibit medium degrees of complexity, based on 30 types of argument for complexity. Our analysis also reveals varying degrees of complexity and delineates the various natural, technical and social sources of complexity. Our approach and the results may facilitate more systematic discussion of governance strategies for complex problem solving across environmental policy fields and scales. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Two Sustainability Epistemologies in the Marketization of a Natural Resource


The normative implications of sustainable development mean that different understandings of how sustainability should be achieved will either facilitate or put at risk different values associated with economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability. By a qualitative analysis of Swedish fishery legislation documents, we analyse and outline the consequences of two different and competing sustainability epistemologies: a top-down system understanding and a bottom-up experiential understanding. To define these two epistemologies, the case study adopts discourse analysis on one fishery law and one fishery regulation proposal, and the remittance answers to these documents. We demonstrate how a top-down system approach shapes social reality according to its own logic of efficiency, and that pre-defined principles of economic optimization prevail over social experience and continuity. We conclude that qualitative analysis holds promise to expand the understanding of the premises and consequences of alternative environmental governance trajectories due to its ability to uncover social constructions of meaning. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Private Sector Involvement in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Using a UN Platform to Promote Market-Based Instruments for Ecosystem Services


The article analyses the implication of private sector representatives in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) (2001–2005). The article shows that, before this international biodiversity assessment, firms were involved in three coalitions: the greenhouse gas pro-trading coalition, the voluntary private standard coalition and the payment for environmental services coalition. These three coalitions all advocated a particular style of regulation that gave overwhelming emphasis to market-based policy instruments. Corporate experts from the three coalitions identified were recruited to participate in the MEA. Thanks to the political visibility given to the ecosystem services concept by the MEA, private industry was able to strengthen and legitimize its actions in favour of market-based environmental governance. At the same time, associating private sector representatives with the MEA process made it easier to disseminate the concept of ecosystem services. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Forest Governance without Transparency? Evaluating state efforts to reduce deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon


Over 60% of the Amazon basin is contained within nine federal Brazilian states. How transparent are state-level governments about implementing and enforcing deforestation reduction policies? Advocates and officials can only influence forest conservation outcomes to the extent that they have information about the actions – the inputs and outputs – of front-line local actors. Leveraging a recently adopted freedom of information (FOI) law, this paper evaluates how well governments comply with website-based disclosure requirements (active transparency), and how effectively they respond to FOI requests (passive transparency) on the implementation and enforcement of deforestation reduction policies. By focusing on how subnational administrations disclose accountings of forest governance – the inputs and outputs of governance – the current study complements an already extensive body of scholarship on central government monitoring of forest cover – the transparency of outcomes. Comparing our results with an original database of transparency evaluations from Brazil, we find extremely low levels of compliance with FOI obligations. We do find, however, that government agencies possessing electronic FOI platforms, which help applicants send requests and appeals and accompany responses, fare better than those without. This and other findings have implications for the design of transparency systems, while global results speak to the policy challenges of federalism, especially dilemmas of subnational policy enforcement. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Power in Sustainability Transitions: Analysing power and (dis)empowerment in transformative change towards sustainability


This paper conceptualizes power and empowerment in the context of sustainability transitions and transition governance. The field of transition studies has been critically interrogated for undermining the role of power, which has inspired various endeavours to theorize power and agency in transitions. This paper presents the POwer-IN-Transition framework (POINT), which is developed as a conceptual framework to analyse power and (dis)empowerment in transformative social change, integrating transition concepts and multiple power and empowerment theories. The first section introduces transitions studies and discusses its state-of-the-art regarding power. This is followed by a typology of power relations and different types of power (reinforcive, innovative, transformative). These notions are then used to reframe transition concepts, in particular the multi-level perspective, in terms of power dynamics. The critical challenges of (dis)empowerment and unintended power implications of discourses on and policies for ‘sustainability transitions’ are discussed. The paper concludes with a synthesis of the arguments and challenges for future research. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Policy Stability in Climate Governance: The case of the United Kingdom


‘Super-wicked’ problems such as climate change require ambitious policies within stable policy frameworks. Key for policy stability is to disincentivise future reversals to carbon-intensive lifestyles resulting in unstoppable climate change. It requires lock-in to a low-carbon development trajectory, requires increasing popular support, and needs to be self-reinforcing, with reversal costs rising over time as benefits increase. In parliamentary political systems (e.g. the UK), policies emerge more easily but are more difficult to maintain given that shifting political majorities can result in policy U-turns, resulting in uncertainties for investment in low-carbon transitions. We examine what factors determine policy stability in UK climate change policy that aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 85–90 per cent by 2050. Policy stability depends on favourable public opinion and the political system. In the case of parliamentary democracies the extent to which policy is embedded into a multilevel governance institutional framework and political cross-party consensus is particularly important for stability. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

The Ecosystem Approach to Management in Marine Environmental Governance: Institutional interplay in the Baltic Sea Region


This article focuses on the use of the ecosystem approach to management (EAM) in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). Based on selected criteria for EAM, the article traces and compares the impact of EAM on HELCOM's Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (MSPD). Starting from the assumption that institutional interplay determines the impact of the EAM on marine policies, the article examines how different forms of interplay (interplay through cognition, commitment and compliance) affect the spread of EAM and its implementation in the BSR. The study finds strong interplay between HELCOM's BSAP and the EU's MSFD. Although HELCOM is still an important player in marine governance in the BSR, since it includes Russia, taking over responsibilities for the implementation of EU legislation has repercussions and affects its independence. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Caught Between Personal and Collective Values: Biodiversity conservation in European decision-making


Individual decision-makers at different governance levels operate in social contexts, which means that they sometimes need to compromise their personal values. Yet, this dissonance is rarely the direct target of empirical analyses of environmental decision-making. We undertake a Q-analysis of decision-makers' personal perspectives and the perspectives they perceive to dominate in their decision-making contexts. Our empirical analysis addresses biodiversity conservation, which has traditionally been justified with intrinsic value- and science-based arguments. The arguments have recently been broadened with the concept of ecosystem services, highlighting human benefits and values. This evolving context is interesting because of the new rise of anthropocentric values, which can lead to decision-makers experiencing dissonance. Our analysis of interviews with 43 biodiversity conservation decision-makers from nine European countries reveals four personally held perspectives that highlight different, yet partly overlapping, values – intrinsic, human benefit, conservation and connection – as well as three perspectives perceived to dominate in decision-making – utilitarian, insurance and knowledge values. The comparison of personally held and perceived dominant perspectives points to one major conflict: those decision-makers who personally associate with intrinsic values and perceive utilitarian values to dominate in decision-making experience dissonance. By contrast, personally held human benefit values are accommodated well in decision-making contexts and decision-makers who perceive insurance values to dominate experience the least conflict with personally held values. These findings demonstrate the potential of arguments stressing long-term benefits for easing tension and conflicts in conservation decision-making, and the usefulness of empirically testing of the coincidence of individual and social values. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Reconsidering EU Compliance: Implementation performance in the field of environmental policy


European Union (EU) environmental policy can only work in practice when it is implemented by and within the member states. Yet, despite its importance, we still lack a solid and cumulative understanding of the practical implementation of EU environmental policies, mainly because of the dominance of case-specific empirical insights and the dichotomous conceptualization of compliant implementation. This paper proposes a conceptual framework for analysing implementation performance, which is built around three dimensions: substance, scope and effort. The framework's relevance and analytical quality are substantiated by a systematic review of empirical studies on practical implementation of 18 EU environmental directives. We find evidence of three types of knowledge deficits: there is neglect of the ‘scope’ and ‘effort’ dimensions of implementation; disproportionate attention to the Water Framework Directive, and the Northern and Western European member states. The proposed conceptual framework aims to inform future research on EU environmental implementation. © 2017 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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Payments for Ecosystem Services as a Policy Mix: Demonstrating the institutional analysis and development framework on conservation policy instruments


Policy mix analysis has been applied in research on energy, climate, urban and transport policy, and more recently biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. However, policy mix analysis has thus far been employed at a high conceptual level, focusing on describing interactions between instrument types. Policy mix analysis rarely describes instrument ‘structure’ or functional characteristics in a way that would answer the question ‘what constitutes an instrument’? We describe how the rules-in-use taxonomy of the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework, developed for research on common pool resource management, can be used to characterize conservation policy instrument interactions. We demonstrate the approach on the well-known payments for ecosystem services (PES) program in Costa Rica and cross-compliance policies, arguing that PES is a policy mix rather than a single economic instrument. Our analysis shows how design features of PES described in the economics literature map to ‘rules-in-use’ in the IAD framework. The framework provides a terminology for defining what constitutes institutional context, comparing economic, regulatory and information instruments, and studying their interactions. The rules-in-use taxonomy of IAD is a ‘structural’ diagnostic approach, which needs to be combined with other tools that analyse the role and ‘agency’ of actors, as part of integrative environmental governance research. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

The Economic and Legal Sides of Additionality in Payments for Environmental Services


This paper aims to clarify two distinct but complementary questions on economic and legal additionality in the payments for environmental services (PES) debate based on examples from the literature and direct observations made in Madagascar and Mexico. For the economic dimension of additionality, we explain two ‘regimes of justification’, efficiency on the one hand and social equity on the other, and discuss how analysts position themselves with regard to both regimes. For the legal dimension, we review and analyse specific cases in which PES are implemented in addition to existing environmental regulations. We propose a renewed framework of analysis to distinguish ‘compensation’ and ‘reward’ in PES by crossing the opportunity cost dimension and the legal constraint vis-à-vis the environment. We show how difficult it is to fully maintain the objective of efficiency when PES are implemented simultaneously across different combinations of opportunity costs and regulation constraints. We propose policy options to address the contradiction between incentive and coercive instruments. These options are land sparing, social targeting and chronological combinations. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

An Assessment Framework for Benefit Sharing Mechanisms to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation within a Forest Policy Mix


Policy instruments for implementing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) mechanism operate within an orchestra of policy mixes that affect the forest and other land sectors. How will policymakers choose between the myriad of options for distributing REDD+ benefits, and be able to evaluate its potential effectiveness, efficiency and equity (3Es)? This is a pressing issue given the results-based aspect of REDD+. We present here a three-element assessment framework for evaluating the outcomes and performance of REDD+ benefit sharing mechanisms, using the criteria of effectiveness, efficiency and equity: (1) the structures (objective and policies) of a REDD+ benefit sharing mechanism; (2) the broader institutional and policy contexts underlying forest governance; (3) outcomes of REDD+ including emission reductions, ecosystem service provision and poverty alleviation. A strength of the assessment framework is its flexible design to incorporate indicators relevant to different contexts; this helps to generate a shared working understanding of what is to be evaluated in the different REDD+ benefit sharing mechanisms (BSMs) across complex socio-political contexts. In applying the framework to case studies, the assessment highlights trade-offs among the 3Es, and the need to better manage access to information, monitoring and evaluation, consideration of local perceptions of equity and inclusive decisionmaking processes. The framework does not aim to simplify complexity, but rather serves to identify actionable ways forward towards a more efficient, effective and equitable implementation and re-evaluation of REDD+ BSMs as part of reflexive policymaking. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Adaptive Forest Governance in Northwestern Mato Grosso, Brazil: Pilot project outcomes across agrarian reform landscapes


Recent research on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has rarely included empirical observation of how land managers perceive and respond to forest governance rules. In this case study, we consider how two decades of pilot projects for integrated conservation and sustainable development (ICDPs) variously influenced forest governance across three agrarian reform settlements in northwestern Mato Grosso state. The analysis combines: i) remote sensing of deforestation from 1997–2015; ii) land use and economic data for individual settler farms and cooperatives; iii) settlers' perceptions regarding legitimacy and relevance of state policies, including land use regulations under the Brazilian Forest Code. Deforestation across settlements varied in association with synergies – or lack thereof – between policy instruments and socially embedded rules organizing economic alternatives to the dominant regional pattern of cattle ranching. In two of the settlements deforestation surpassed or was approaching 80% of their total area. In the third settlement deforestation stabilized at 45%, corresponding with the initiation of ICDP support for a pilot project focused on Brazil nut extractivism to consolidate community management of the settlement's collective forest reserve. The latter process involved a ‘policy mix’ or sequence of overlapping components: technical assistance, cooperative organization, environmental licensing, infrastructure, equitable contracts with surrounding indigenous communities and market development. Comparing with the two counterfactual cases, we suggest a framework for analysis of systemic socio-ecological change in settlements in the Brazilian Amazon, and reconsider the role of ICDPs in landscape approaches to environmental governance in tropical forests. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Policy Mixes and their Alignment over Time: Patching and stretching in the oil sands reclamation regime in Alberta, Canada


When, why and how do policy mixes change and evolve? Much of the contemporary interest in such mixes is focused on distinguishing simple policies from more complex policy mixes, evaluating the relationships between single and multiple policy tools within a mix, and developing criteria to assess the likely performance of particular mixes. These are important and necessary analytical tasks. However, another required step in understanding policy mixes is to understand how and why mixes evolve and change over time and to determine whether any changes are an improvement. In this paper, we analyse the development of a complex policy mix in the case of reclamation and remediation of the Alberta oil sands from an earlier ‘simple goal, single instrument’ policy regime to a more complex one. This case study reveals the presence of at least two dynamic processes at work in policy mix development, with significant implications for the nature of the changes that result from them. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Integrating Ecological Indicators into Federal-State Fiscal Relations: A policy design study for Germany


Protected areas (PA) provide conservation benefits and ecosystem services that spill over the boundaries of jurisdictions to other regions. In this paper we analyse the foundations of and design options for ecological fiscal transfers (EFT) that may internalize such positive external effects. We propose a model for integrating ecological indicators into the intergovernmental fiscal transfer system between federal and state-level governments in Germany. Our approach is performance oriented and would thus compensate those states that designate an above-average share of their area for nature conservation purposes. The suggested EFT design builds upon the existing fiscal equalization system and complies with the legal requirements for indicators determining fiscal needs. We employ an econometric analysis to demonstrate that, on average, sparsely populated states in Germany provide more PA per capita and would thus be eligible for increased fiscal transfers. A quantitative model of the fiscal transfer scheme is then used to estimate the marginal financial effects of integrating ecological indicators into federal–state fiscal relations in Germany. Moving beyond the specific case presented, we discuss the implications in terms of the specific role of EFT as a policy instrument within the broader conservation policy mix. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment