Economic consulting

Various advisory services are available within the FOEN to provide support for macroeconomic and environmental-economic issues. The main focus of the advisory services is on ex-ante and ex-post evaluations, cost-benefit analyses, economic instruments, behavioural economics, ecosystem services and transformation consultancy.

The aim of economic consulting is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of environmental policy and the related environmental policy measures. Several guidelines are available for this purpose in order to provide targeted and effective advice to the FOEN's specialist sections.

Economic assessment of environmental measures (VOBU; ex-ante evaluation)

Environmental policy measures (e.g. legislative projects, sets of measures and action plans) have an impact on the economy, society and the environment (economic repercussions). In order to study the effect of planned measures before their introduction, and to assess the efficiency of their implementation, in 2006 the FOEN developed a manual containing guidelines on how to perform an economic assessment of environmental measures (known by the German acronym VOBU)) which meets Seco's requirements for regulatory impact assessment (RIA).

With the manual the environmental measures in relation to costs, benefits, effectiveness, economic sustainability for the sectors or regions concerned, and ease of implementation can be examined in advance. The manual serves as guidance for shaping an environmental policy that is as effective as possible and economically viable and for improving it on an ongoing basis. At the same time, the aim is to provide transparency regarding the impact of such measures.

The guidelines for monetisation of the environmental impacts of policies allow users to easily estimate the environmental costs and benefits of regulations that have environmental implications. The monetisation steps are explained, the different cost rates are discussed, and the way in which uncertainties can be handled is shown. The potentially critical key steps are illustrated with case studies. These guidelines are intended to supplement the existing instruments (guidelines on the economic assessment of environmental measures (VOBU), RIA manual and sustainability assessment (SA) guidelines).

The OECD recommends that, where regulation is concerned, the economic, social and environmental benefits justify the costs, that the distributional effects are considered, and that the net benefits are maximised. Costs and benefits may be identified, for example, through a cost-benefit analysis. The OECD publication entitled Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Environment (2018) provides an overview of the theory and practical application of environmental cost-benefit analyses.

Ex-post evaluation

The aim of ex-post evaluations at the FOEN is to develop empirically verifiable statements on causal relationships. The object of the evaluation (e.g. environmental law) is clearly defined and the evaluation is systematic and transparent. Ex-post evaluations make a substantial contribution to assessing FOEN measures, projects, programmes and organisation retrospectively, after their introduction. They serve:

  • to enable account to be taken of the use of public funds,
  • to support the planning of measures by making well-founded decisions
  • to contribute to the improvement of strategies and measures and
  • to simplify the balancing of different options.

For the ex-post evaluation, a corresponding concept was drawn up within the FOEN, which can be requested from the Economics Section:

Behavioural Economics

The goal of behavioural economics is the systematic analysis of human behaviour in decision-making situations in order to identify the core of problems. Behavioural economics instruments do not include any obligation or binding rules of conduct.

The Behavioural Economics Guidelines provide support in identifying behavioural economics measures. The procedure described therein allows both the evaluation and optimization of existing measures from a behavioural economics perspective and the creation of new measures.

The Behavioural Economics guidelines can be requested from the Economics Section:

Ecosystem services

Ecosystem services are the many services provided by the environment for human and economic well-being. These include, for example, the provision of renewable energy and resources, nature as a recreational space, clean air or CO2 sequestration. It is of central importance that ecosystem services are ensured for the future. However, many are at risk. The Ecosystem Services guidelines help to determine whether there is an environmental or financial need for action to ensure a particular ecosystem service.

The guidelines can be requested from the Economics Section:

Transformation consulting

International research has produced valuable findings in recent years on shaping transformation processes. A guide and set of cards help put these findings into practice in day-to-day environmental policy work. The aim is to identify new perspectives, promising fields of action and instruments.

What is it?
Transformation research deals with significant or fundamental changes to systems. It sees transformation as a process organised by society and not as a process determined (purely) by technology. It is not only the institutional structures, but the stakeholders within them, that are interpreted as levers for transformation. It is an approach that pays as much attention to social innovations as it does to technical ones.

What is its purpose?
The transformation research guide is a tool that helps identify promising fields of action and instruments in a policy area. It provides an innovative way of dealing with postulates, draft laws, initiatives, and specific enquiries from policymakers, as well as concerns and problems raised internally.

Further information

Last modification 01.10.2020

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