University of Otago
Why Environmental Policy-making is so Hard
Mon 9 Nov, 14:30 – 15:00
New Zealand faces a huge range of tough environmental problems, from urban canopy loss to sea-level rise, and from the spread of wilding pines to the decline of native species. In many cases the problems are well understood in both their causes and consequences. Why, then, are they so difficult to solve?
It turns out that coordinating environmental action is much harder than one might think. Isolated decisions, even isolated decisions made with high-quality procedures coordinating well-intentioned participants, sometimes produce outcomes that none of the participants would have wanted. Without a mechanism to ensure that the collective implications of fragmented series of uncoordinated decisions are taken into account, it is all too easy to think we are making good choices all along, and later wonder how we failed to realize our intentions. We’ll talk about why these policy decisions are so hard, and suggest some practices that might improve things.