In principle, Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) has great potential to improve policy coherence by ensuring the alignment of values across disparate regulatory initiatives and policy fields. Over the past decade and longer, RIA has been widely adopted across OECD countries and the European Union for evaluating the costs and benefits of regulatory and non-regulatory alternatives. Nonetheless, many institutional and methodological issues have been identified with its application. Among these criticisms is its failure to align with real world processes of policy-making for which reason it does not genuinely influence policy development.
The aim of this project is to identify means for improving the effectiveness of RIA in enhancing policy coherence in the design and implementation of regulatory and environmental policy. This implies ensuring both as a tool and as a process, that RIA effectively takes into account environmental policy goals when regulatory or non-regulatory proposals are being considered. Among the particular challenges identified are the following: the arbitrariness between long term and short term implications; the relative difficulties of quantifying benefits over that of costs; the difficulty of modelling social and distributional impacts; and the weight given to environmental impacts when designing economic regulations. This could include a consideration of the extent to which the development of alternative assessment tools is necessary or a “single impact assessment” tool can be used to integrate economic, social and environmental aspects? This study highlights the experiences of OECD countries in aligning regulatory policy and environmental policy practices to promote policy coherence in the environmental field. It discusses incorporating environmental values in RIA through methodology, tools and institutional arrangements for the improvement of regulatory quality and environmental regulatory policy coherence. The aim is to develop an understanding of how the processes and tools for RIA can be improved and to demonstrate the lessons that have been learnt from current practices.