Sustainable governance indicators 2015: reform needs in 41 OECD Countries

SGI_report2015

The SGI (Sustainable Governance Indicators) project has created a cross-national comparative survey in order to explore how governments target sustainable development. The main indicators used were Policy Performance, Democracy and Governance, which also involved a study on the use of evidence-based instruments such as RIA.

Namely, the researchers investigated how RIA is spread among 41 OECD Countries – including Italy – and what is the level of its implementation. According to the response given to each quantitative and qualitative indicator, the SGI group awarded from 1 (low score) to 10 (high score) points to each Country. Firstly, it measured to what extent the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts via regulatory impact assessments. While only United States and New Zeland scored 10 points, outdoing many European Countries obtaining 9-8 points, Italy’s final score (6 points) shows that RIA is not sufficiently carried out, mostly because of the lack of available resources dedicated to the actual implementation of the Impact Assessment. Surprisingly, even France – whose administrative system has some similarities with the Italian one – demonstrates a low level of attention for impact assessment instruments (4 points), beating only few States (Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Israel and Iceland) which have only nominally adopted – or never adopted at all – RIA.

Moreover, dealing with the quality of RIA – that is the ability of the process to ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation – the results often match those of the first indicator, showing Czech Republic, UK, USA and New Zeland at the higher level, Australia, Italy and other Western Countries with average results and France, Portugal, Greece and Iceland at the lower level.

The last indicator aims at assessing if sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA. The qualitative index points out major differences among the Countries considered, with some (UK, Denmark, New Zeland, Germany, United States, Canada, Finland, etc…) using RIA as a tool to actually measure the future social, economical, environmental impact of policies, both at short and long term, and others (Italy, France, Greece, Japan, Turkey, etc…) in which “sustainability” is often used more as a slogan than as a concrete strategy of evaluation.

In conclusion, the Report “2015 Evidence-based Instruments Report. RIA Application, Quality of RIA Process, Sustainability Check” shows a clear line between Countries in which RIA is quantitatively and qualitatively effective and those in which this instrument is rather ignored or scarcely developed; a difference exist between its formal and substantial adoption in policy-making, hence the existence of “ad hoc” bodies do not imply its actual implementation in legal systems. In the first group Countries mainly belong to the Anglo-Saxon area of influence – which firstly developed better regulation techniques – whereas the second group is mostly formed by Mediterranean and Eastern nations – in which RIA has been “imported” lately and improperly.

The report as well as further information are available on the website of the SGI: www.sgi-network.org

(Maria Sole Porpora)