Problems of Global and Regional Environmental Change are by their very nature sector-related problems. Insofar, their solution requires sector-integrated approaches of policy-making that abandon the parallel pursuit of contradictory policies. Thirty years of environmental policy-making at the national and international level reveal, however, striking problems to establish interlinkages that lead to an integration of regimes and joined-up policy-making, both horizontally on each level of political decision-making and vertically between the different layers of the multi-level system of international governance. At the national level, new cross-cutting issues such as environmental protection have been institutionalized mostly in a separate way, without changing the framework conditions for action in the policy sectors mainly responsible for environmental deterioration. Also, new international environmental agreements have been institutionalized separately from other policy regimes.
One crucial factor in explaining this path of development is the traditional organization model of bureaucracy that is based upon specialization and division of work. It has proven to be successful in a number of ways. It fails, however, in addressing the needs of cross-cutting problems such as environmental protection. The challenge, both at the national and international level, is to establish institutional provisions that allow actors to pursue a more coordinated approach. Special attention has to be paid to mutual interaction between regimes and policies on the international and national level, such as trade and environment.
The struggle for coherence and policy integration is going into its fourth decade. Meanwhile, the overall framework conditions of policy-making have considerably changed: Processes of economic and political globalization have deepened, new forms of governance have emerged and new actors have entered the stage, such as International Organizations or transnational advocacy-networks. The result is a significant increase of the complexity of policy-making.
What is needed is a comprehensive review of the gathered experiences, in order to learn, which strategies might be applied best at which level against the background of this increased complexity of policy-making. The analysis of past experiences requires a joint effort of different disciplines. In particular political scientist and lawyers can improve the understanding of institutions for policy integration. It is furthermore necessary to assess the impacts of policies on the different dimensions of sustainability to inform policy makers about integration requirements and hence form the knowledge basis of policy coherence and integration. Different tasks might be best suited at different levels, but the concrete allocation of competencies and responsibilities is a question open to discussion. This requires a close co-operation of many different disciplines. Possible foci of such efforts are integrated models and integrated assessments.
The conference brought about a stocktaking of both the institutional basis of policy integration on the different levels of policy making as well as an improvement of the knowledge basis for a furthering of integration.