Policy support tools and methodologies are approaches and techniques based on science and other knowledge systems, including indigenous and local knowledge, that can inform, assist and enhance relevant decisions, policy-making and implementation at the local, national, regional and international levels to protect nature, thereby promoting nature’s contributions to people and a good quality of life.

When developing a typology of policy support tools and methodologies, a number of families of approaches and techniques need to be acknowledged, each of which addresses different types of decisions, decision-making institutions or policy-making cultures in the development, implementation and adaptation of policy, to the benefit of people and nature. Some tools and methodologies may be part of more than one family.

The following seven families of tools and methodologies, defined in terms of the broad challenges addressed and with examples of tools and methodologies for each, are used in this catalogue:

  • Family 1. Assembling data and knowledge (including monitoring)
  • Family 2. Assessment and evaluation
  • Family 3. Public discussion, involvement and participatory process
  • Family 4. Selection and design of policy instruments
  • Family 5. Implementation, outreach and enforcement
  • Family 6. Training and capacity building
  • Family 7. Social learning, innovation and adaptive governance

Assembling Data and Knowledge
Assembling data and knowledge (including monitoring) addresses underlying scientific and other types of knowledge gaps (including indigenous and local knowledge) by providing the data necessary to understand the function and dynamics of biodiversity, human wellbeing, nature’s contributions to people (including ecosystem goods and services), and associated social-ecological systems. This includes, among others, data collection efforts, databases and monitoring, indicators, oral history, mapping of ecosystem services. This family is relevant to all elements of the policy cycle.

Examples of Tools:

Assessment and Evaluation

Assessment and evaluation addresses existing scientific and other knowledge by synthesizing and assessing such knowledge types (including indigenous and local knowledge) relative to the status, function, determinants/drivers and outlook for specific aspects of nature, nature’s contributions to people, human well-being, relevant social-ecological systems and outcomes, as well as the connections between these. These include different types of assessment and evaluation tools, based on a variety of methods and diverse conceptualizations of values of nature, nature’s contributions to people, and a good quality of life. This family is relevant to all elements of the policy cycle.

Examples of tools:

Public Discussion, Involvement and Participatory Process
Public discussion, involvement and participatory process contribute to identifying problems and opportunities, setting goals and priorities, meeting agreed principles such as gender and social equity, establishing the case for policy action and building shared understanding of requirements and consequences. This is achieved by supporting discussion and deliberation about the implications of new knowledge and data, emerging risks and opportunities, potential societal responses, as well as the effectiveness and merits of existing and potential institutions and policy settings. This family is relevant to all elements of the policy cycle.

Examples of tools:

Selection and Design of Policy Instruments
Selection and design of policy instruments supports the identification, evaluation and choice of potential policies and institutional settings, including evaluation and comparisons of past experience or similar experience elsewhere, as well as outcomes under different policies and circumstances and policy mix analysis. It focuses primarily on the choice and design of new and existing policies, keeping in mind that policy instruments are distinct from policy support tools and methodologies. This family is primarily aligned with Policy Design and Decisions, but it could be relevant to the other two elements of the policy cycle.

Examples of tools:

Implementation, Outreach and Enforcement
Implementation, outreach and enforcement support practical implementation of policies, including laws, regulations and quasi-regulations, economic instruments and incentives, as well as information tools, including through monitoring, providing information to stakeholders and through supporting enforcement and compliance activities. This family focuses primarily on supporting the implementation of policies that have already been decided and enacted. It is primarily aligned with Policy Implementation, but could be relevant to the other two elements of the policy cycle.

Examples of tools:

Training and Capacity Building
Training and capacity-building identify and address capacity gaps and shortfalls by enhancing the skills and capacity of relevant actors and organizations, including Government officials and agencies, communities and representatives, businesses, non-government organizations, advisors and support services. This family is cross-cutting to all elements and can be applied within each element to enhance capacity and improve outcomes.

Examples of tools:

Social Learning, Innovation and Adaptive Governance
Social learning, innovation and adaptive governance address gaps and disconnects in the policy process, by identifying opportunities to promote social learning and to strengthen links and feedback mechanisms across elements and activities, supporting improved responsiveness, risk management and overall performance of policy process as a whole. This family is cross-cutting to all elements, but applied to the links and inter-relationships across elements and activities to influence the dynamics and performance of the policy review, development and implementation process itself.

Examples of tools: