United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics
Economics and Trade Branch

Integrated Policymaking for Sustainable Development

The Integrated Assessment and Planning (IAP) initiative was a step forward from Integrated Assessment of Trade-related Policies. In IAP, assessment was no longer confined to trade-related policies. More important, IAP went beyond assessment and advocated applying the concept of integration into policy planning from the outset.

In September 2005, as the preliminary results from the IAP process started coming in, UNEP ETB organised a consultative meeting to propose the development of a voluntary international framework for IAP with an emphasis on integrated planning and policymaking. The objective of the proposal was to produce a set of voluntary principles as well as reference materials to assist countries to implement IAP. The overall goal was to ensure the integration of environmental, social, and economic considerations in planning and policymaking processes. The meeting welcomed such an initiative, highlighted key challenges in developing the framework, and emphasised the importance to implement the initiative in a flexible manner.

In February 2006, UNEP ETB convened the second consultative meeting to discuss the preparation of the framework document. The meeting agreed that: a) the document should be prepared for both policymakers and practitioners and it should reach beyond the environmental constituency; b) it should be user-friendly; c) it should emphasize policy integration and what has worked and what has not based on practical experience in different countries; d) case studies should be used to demonstrate how IAP can add value to decisions; and e) UNEP ETB should take the initiative forward in partnership with a range of stakeholders.

In the ensuing months, more complete results from the IAP process became available, providing additional insights into the preparation of the document. The IAP process showed clear signs of success in a number of areas such as engaging different stakeholders and identifying win-win opportunities and trade-offs, but as far as internalising the integrated approach in policymaking is concerned, the progress was still limited. In most cases, due to deeply rooted local political, social, institutional, and cultural factors, the IAP processes remained external to the official policymaking processes.

Reflecting on the IAP experience and building on the conclusions from the two consultative meetings, UNEP ETB decided to develop practical guidelines focusing on integrated policymaking with an explicit intent to go beyond assessment. Since September 2006, UNEP ETB has been working with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore to develop the manual. The first draft was reviewed at a workshop on 14-15 May 2007 attended by a group of experts from governments, inter-governmental agencies, academic institutions, and civil society. A workshop report is also available.