Chapter 18: Legal indicators as tools to assess the effectiveness of international rules related to the sustainable management of natural resources
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This chapter examines why it is important to integrate effectiveness into the assessment of whether, and if so to what extent, international rules related to the sustainable management of natural resources contribute to sustainable development in general, and to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular, and how this could be achieved in practice. It explores the methodological challenges inherent in designing a set of legal indicators (i.e. quantitative measures of the performance of legal systems) that could be meaningful for multiple agreements, and discusses the pros and cons of tailoring the choice of suitable legal indicators for clusters of agreements, either on a natural resource basis (e.g. agreements on the protection of watercourses) and/or on a treaty basis (e.g. the Paris Agreement). It considers the feasibility of formulating and testing various types of legal indicators (i.e. structural, process and outcome indicators), based on the forseeable difficulties in collecting data from events-based, socioeconomic and administrative sources, and/or opinion surveys. It argues that, in defining such a common methodological framework, which could serve as a “bridge” between various (clusters of) agreements, legal indicators may serve as operational tools to further contribute towards implementation of the SDGs via measuring, and simply communicating information on, progress or regression of international environmental law.

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