Impact Assessment and Sustainable Development
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Impact Assessment and Sustainable Development

European Practice and Experience

Edited by Clive George and Colin Kirkpatrick

Translation of the principle of sustainable development into policy and practice, and the evaluation of the outcomes of these strategic interventions, are some of the most pressing challenges facing policymakers in Europe and beyond. The chapters in this book contribute to the debate surrounding these challenges. By exploring the conceptual and methodological issues relating to the evaluation of sustainable development and analysing European practice and experience, this work provides a coherent and integrated contribution to our understanding of these issues.
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Chapter 3: Evaluation for Sustainable Development: The Rio Model of Governance

Martin Jänicke


Martin Jänicke I. INTRODUCTION Evaluation – both ex post and ex ante – is part of the Rio model of governance, which emerged from the UN Earth Summit of 1992. This chapter provides a general overview of the Rio governance model that stands behind the strategic concept of sustainable development (SD) and of its implications for evaluation. This model of environmental governance has been remarkably successful as a knowledge-based model of steering – not based on power and legal obligation. However, it urgently needs further improvements, and the chapter makes a number of suggestions as to how the Rio model of governance may be strengthened, and discusses the role of evaluation in this undertaking. In particular, it looks at whether evaluation should use only a top-down perspective – the implementation of Agenda 21 or of national SD strategies – or should also adopt a bottomup perspective relying on forces that are independent from, but supportive to, the strategy of SD (e.g. high energy prices or changing WTO rules). II. THE EXPLOSION OF COMPLEXITY The Agenda 21 (or Rio) model of multi-level, multi-sectoral and multistakeholder governance is important because it is the only governance model that takes into account the extremely high complexity of the field of action. There has been an ‘explosion’ of complexity in the configuration of actors of environmental governance since the early 1970s. Originally, the actor constellation of environmental policy was rather simple (Figure 3.1): government regulated (or at least tried to regulate) the environmental behaviour of polluters through one-sided...

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