The sustainable development agenda has introduced a number of principles to guide policy-making – for example, long-term planning horizons should be employed, equity implications should be considered, and opportunities for international cooperation should be sought (OECD, 2001a).

One of the principles that has been relatively easy to agree upon is environmental policy integration (EPI).

It refers to the integration of environmental aspects and policy objectives into sector policies, such as energy and agricultural policy, and has also been referred to as sector integration. EPI is not only politically challenging, in terms of difficult trade-offs between environmental and other sector objectives, but also conceptually elastic and vague.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a literature review of the EPI concept and how it has been studied and evaluated in practice, in order to identify key conceptual choices for further theorization and empirical study of EPI.

Following a brief overview of EPI initiatives at the global level (Agenda 21), EU level and national level in Sweden, three questions have guided the literature review.

First, what is meant by EPI? The examination of a range of conceptions suggests that the two most important differences at the conceptual level are whether a weighting criterion giving “principled priority” to environmental objectives is attached to EPI or not, and whether it is seen as process or an output.

Second, how is EPI achieved? The review of both theoretical and practitioner-oriented literature suggests that variables and measures for EPI can be roughly divided into three broad and inter-related categories: normative (e.g. political leadership,overall policy framework, change of policy-making culture), organizational (e.g. integrated government departments, change of the budgeting process), and procedural factors (e.g. EPI strategies and action plans, systematic impact assessment procedures).

Thirdly, what criteria can be used to evaluate the degree of EPI? While there are a few different sets of procedural criteria for evaluating specific EPI measures, there is a lack of criteria for evaluating the degree of EPI in substantive policy outputs resulting from “normal” sector policy-making.

The paper is concluded by highlighting key conceptual choices and making recommendations for further EPI study, including more theory-driven and explorative approaches.

ISBN: 91 975237 1 2
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