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Systematic Review: Environmental Policy

This research synthesizes the evidence on building effective environmental policy and provides frameworks for policy makers and practitioners.

A Systematic Review for Policy- and Decision-Makers

Pressing environmental challenges face business leaders and policy-makers alike. As the challenges of climate change become more apparent, the need for careful assessment of what policies work in what circumstances is ever more important.

In conducting this study “When do Climate Policies Work? A Systematic Review of Experiences from Low-Carbon Technology Promotion and Water Management”, commissioned by the Network for Business Sustainability, the authors sought to shed light on questions about the impacts, processes, cost considerations and accountability implications of different policy instruments.

From Environmental Problems to Effective Policy

With advice from the NBS Leadership Council, this systematic review was constructed with three objectives:

  1. To understand the direct effects of policy instruments that target environmental problems and how these policies interact.

  2. To understand how and whether characteristics of environmental problems influence the effectiveness of policy instruments.

  3. To understand the possible trade-offs between cost-effectiveness, solving the environmental problems and government accountability.

Building on these three objectives, the report is guided by the following questions:

  • How effective are different policy instruments in achieving environmental objectives?

  • How cost-effective are these instruments for governments, regulated parties and society?

  • What accountability implications do different instruments have for government?

Evidence-Based, Environmental Policy Frameworks

Our report is a synthesis of more than 204 applied and academic studies. It gives the most comprehensive and credible evidence to date on building effective environmental policy, and provides an environmental policy framework that outlines the key areas to be considered in the development of any policy. Lastly, it features a step-by-step decision tree to help policy makers select the most appropriate instrument for any issue at hand.

Who Should Read the Report

This report is designed to:

  • Guide and advise decision-makers in government and industry develop and advise on environmental policy.

  • Help policy-makers working on environmental issues understand the range of policy instruments available to them and when each is most effective.

  • Provide suggestions for businesses on how they can constructively feed into the process at various stages.

Additional Resources


More Project Outputs

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  • NBS

    The Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) is a non-profit advancing sustainable development to build a fairer and more environmentally sound future. We aim to improve business practice by facilitating knowledge sharing across an international community of business leaders, scholars, students and policy makers. With these stakeholders, we co-create high-quality content that enables practical action. Our content focuses on 6 critical sustainability themes, from climate change to social justice.

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