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Evaluating Agri-environmental Policies

Design, Practice and Results

image of Evaluating Agri-environmental Policies

These conference proceedings present a series of evaluations of agri-environmental policies in OECD countries.  They examine how effective the policies have been in achieving objectives and what policy makers have learned about the design and implementation of their policies. 

These proceedings show that different methods of policy evaluation are complementary. Most countries focus on evaluating the environmental effectiveness rather than the economic efficiency of policies, using physical indicators rather than monetary values. Many policies are achieving their environmental objectives, but are taking longer than originally anticipated. The initiative being taken in many countries to incorporate monitoring and data collection into programme design and implementation is a positive development.  But a number of steps need to be taken to improve the quality of evaluations, including the better articulation of policy goals and objectives, improving data quality and establishing baselines for comparison.

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Building Accountability Structures into Agri-environmental Policy Development

Policy evaluation is difficult because the words have become “plastic” and the dilemma of public sector accountability. Despite these problems, evaluations should be undertaken because they help build up the collective knowledge of what works and why. The establishment of a cause and effect logic, illustrated for example by Bennett’s Hierarchy, greatly assists the development of effective evaluations by determining specific outcomes or targets at various points in the chain of events. It also identifies the various “communities”, such as the target community (e.g. farmers), partners with an interest in the success of the programme (e.g. community groups) that need to be considered. The involvement of such communities is not only vital to the evaluation process, but crucially important to the successful implementation of the policy. Evaluations must be seen as part of a learning process that leads to the development of better agri-environmental policies...

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