Evaluation of policies for sustainable development
In its federal reports on sustainable development, the Federal Planning Bureau evaluates the federal policy on sustainable development. This policy is very comprehensive. Therefore, choices have to be made about the range of the fields investigated and the depth of the research.
Core policy and supporting policies
For the 1992-1998 period, the policy was divided into core policies and supporting policies. The former were investigated in more depth than the latter (see section 3 of Towards sustainable development?, first federal report on sustainable development, 1999).
Four issues were examined as core policies:
eradicating poverty and social exclusion;
protecting the atmosphere;
protecting the marine environment;
changes in consumption patterns.
Ten issues were described as supporting policies:
employment and pensions;
justice and security;
These ten issues were evaluated for their contribution to the realization of core policy objectives.
Ten policy issues
For the period from mid-1998 to the end of 2001, ten issues that are under the federal government’s responsibility were investigated:
production strategies of businesses;
ethical financing of businesses;
the social economy;
the use of information and communication technologies;
fishing and biological diversity in the marine environment;
the use of genetically modified plants;
energy production and consumption;
mobility and transport of persons;
health at work;
The policy pursued during that period was evaluated in three different ways (see section 3 of A step towards sustainable development?, second federal report on sustainable development, 2003).
For the general policy we checked the annual policy statements of the federal government members for references to sustainable development.
The targets for the ten issues were examined closely. Special attention was paid to both consistency (between and within the levels of government and policy fields) and the hierarchy of these objectives.
Eleven case studies were made on specific measures concerning the ten issues, such as an inventory of greenhouse gases emissions (within the framework of the struggle against the climate change).
Policies regarding twenty types of pressure and implementation of the federal plan
The policy carried out from 2000 to 2004 was assessed by analyzing twenty types of pressure. The analysis looked at the way in which changes in demographic structure and consumption and production patterns (three driving forces) influence the economic, human and environmental capitals (the three capital stocks that determine the living conditions of a society). For example:
the pressure of population-ageing on the standard of living (a component of the human capital);
the pressure of nutritional patterns on health (a component of the human capital);
the pressure of nutritional patterns on biodiversity (a component of the environmental capital);
the pressure of the organization of production on the standard of living (a component of the human capital);
the pressure of the organization of production on natural resources (a component of the environmental capital).
The broad lines of the policies on these driving forces and capital stocks were investigated (see section 3 of Comprendre et gouverner le développement/Ontwikkeling begrijpen en sturen, third federal report on sustainable development, 2005).
We also examined to what extent the Federal Plan on Sustainable Development 2000-2004 was implemented (see the report). This plan is a part of the federal sustainable development strategy, which has been analyzed since its beginning in 1998 (see section 4 of the report).