Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Methodology for policy analysis and development of policy recommendations to combat desertification at EU and national level

Policy makers are called to address complex socio-environmental problems which are not tractable, they are ill- or multi-defined and for which solutions are neither easy to devise nor to implement. Rational policymaking requires that solutions to policy problems be based on a systematic analysis of the policy problem that focuses on strategic and critical elements and, thus, helps formulate effective policies. A general methodology for policy analysis has been developed that adopts an institutionalist, process- and actor-oriented approach, placing emphasis on the so-called policy networks, the formal and informal actors involved in the formulation and the implementation stages of the policy process and their interactions. On this basis, the analysis of the content and structure (structural and procedural features) of a policy is made using a systematic format that links the policy object to policy goals and objectives, formal and informal actors, implementation mechanisms and diverse types of policy instruments. The latter are classified into certain categories such as administrative, legislative, institutional, economic, financial, technical, infrastructural, educational, etc. The methodology provides also for specific formats for the analysis of policy implementation, of relationships among policies, for policy evaluation, as well as for formulating proposals for policy improvement. These formats are congruent with the policy analysis format and ensure consistency between policy analysis and making policy proposals and recommendations. With respect to the latter, the methodology provides guidance to formulating coordinated interventions targeting the policy object, policy goals, policy actors and networks, policy procedures and instruments.

When policies implicated in a particular socio-environmental problem are analysed using the proposed methodology, their relationships can be analysed systematically and important and critical links among them in terms of their objects, goals, actors and instruments can be identified and used to properly manipulate them to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their joint functioning. More importantly, however, the proposed methodology can be used to support the design of policy integration schemes that seek to produce either vertically integrated or horizontally integrated policies. The latter have greater potential for adding value to the policy stock at hand and at responding to the needs of managing the natural and institutional complexity of socio-environmental policy problems. One such problem is that of combating desertification in the Southern member states of the European Union as well as in other countries that face problems of land degradation and desertification. The complexity of these problems cannot be addressed through a unitary, single-purpose policy but through proper synthesis, harmonization, and coordination of extant or new environmental and socio-economic policies that impinge on the determinants of the phenomenon.

The proposed methodology can be used basically by public sector entities responsible for policy making at the EU and the national level. Practically, all public organizations are involved in the context of complex policy problems especially when doing something about these problems is within their mandates. The organizations adopting the proposed methodology will be in a better position to design new and/or evaluate and possibly modify existing policies that account for their interactions with other policies. At the moment, it has been applied in the context of the research project to analyse selected EU and national level (Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece) policies that contribute directly or indirectly to desertification, such as, economic policies, regional development, rural development, spatial policies, tourism, forest, water resources, biodiversity and soil protection policies.

The end users of the application of the methodology are policy implementation agencies and policy recipients who will benefit from the provision of mutually supportive and non-conflicting policies. Indicative application/users combinations include EC DGs, national ministries, local administrations and local population (farmers, businesses).

The main innovative features/benefits of the proposed methodology is that it deviates from the output-oriented, linear model of policy analysis and places emphasis on the agents of the policy system, the processes through which policies are formulated and implemented and their relationships (continuous feedback loops between formulation and implementation) with the purpose of promoting integrated solutions to complex socio-environmental problems such as desertification.

The most significant potential barrier to the adoption and application of the proposed methodology is the vertical organization and sectoralization of policy making at both the EU and the national level.

Related information

Reported by

University of the Aegean
University Hill Mytilini
81 100 LESVOS
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top