Integrated Planning (IP)
The demand for integrated approach to public policymaking has come from a number of international processes, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). Many organizations have responded to the call for integrated policymaking by developing various sustainability-oriented policy assessment initiatives. IP is another response to the need for proactive integration of SD considerations into policymaking.
Integration is interpreted at three levels. First, the ESE (Economic, Social and Environmental) dimensions of SD must be integrated and considered jointly in relation to a policy issue and its solutions. Second, the ESE considerations must be factored into each stage of
the policy process. Third, IP must bring political, administrative, and financial constraints into account.
Specifically, at the agenda-setting stage, a problem of public concern should be defined in relation to a society’s SD context, including priorities, risks and opportunities, as well as to the concerns of other sectors and groups that may affect the problem and its resolution. During policy formulation, the root cause analysis of the problem should find out the critical ESE factors and their inter-linkages in causing the problem and when screening policy options, the political, administrative, and financial feasibility should be considered. In the decision-making stage, projected implications of policy options related to ESE criteria and indicators should serve as the basis for deciding which policy option should be selected. In implementation, the challenge is to ensure that policy interventions, which have supposedly integrated ESE consideration, do actually take place on the ground. When it comes to evaluation, policy performance is examined against both the established policy objectives and the ESE criteria/indicators. In all of these activities, individual policy participants, including policy managers, initiators, formulators, decision-makers, implementers, monitoring agents, evaluators, and many other actors involved in the policy process – are expected to perform their roles according to the requirements of IP.
This assumes, however, that all these actors are already convinced of the value of IP and are already motivated to apply this approach. Clearly, this is a generous assumption.
To gear public policies towards SD requires much more than a manual or hundreds of manuals. It requires a genuine conviction of the need for SD on the part of governments and citizens. This, in turn, needs to come from a true appreciation of the risks from pursuing particular societal objectives at the expense of other objectives and the opportunities from seeking synergies that exist among a society’s ESE imperatives. Analysts can demonstrate these risks and opportunities through case studies. Advocacy groups and media can play an important role in communicating these risks and opportunities.
Therefore, it is worthwhile to 1) organize or reinvigorate an SD “policy community” to review related national frameworks and institutional arrangements and propose improvements focusing on SD criteria and indicators as well as the effectiveness of related institutions 2) to invest in sustainability-related statistical capacities in developing countries with a focus on having an adequate number of qualified statisticians, acquiring and maintaining related data systems, and sustaining the regular data collection and reporting operations 3) to provide long-term as well as short-term training to create a critical mass of qualified policy analysts who can potentially assume the roles of policy managers, initiators, formulators, decision-makers, implementers, monitoring agents, and evaluators in support of IP.
UNEP. Integrated Assessment: Mainstreaming Sustainability into Policymaking: A Guidance Manual.