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A Policy Mix for Resource Efficiency in the EU: Key Instruments, Challenges and Research Needs

Henning Wilts and Meghan O'Brien

Ecological Economics, 2019, vol. 155, issue C, 59-69

Abstract: Against the background of an often wasteful use of natural resources, the European Union has made resource efficiency a top policy priority. Policy formulation is, however, at a very early stage in many Member States, with often vague notions of what resource efficiency means, characterised by fragmented instruments and overlapping competencies. This paper develops a conceptual framework for defining, assessing and developing resource efficiency policy mixes. It argues that a mix of policies and instruments is best suited to overcoming the complex challenges of the 21st Century. Such a mix addresses multiple resource domains at a strategic, high level and contains interacting instruments targeting multiple actors, levels of governance and sectors and life-cycle stages of resource use. This paper looks at criteria for effective resource efficiency policy instruments, presents both an indicative policy mix across 9 policy domains and case studies (on environmental harmful subsidies, supply chain efficiency in food systems and product-service systems) and identifies key challenges to overcome trade-offs in instrument design, maximise synergies, reduce conflicts, promote coherence, coordinate activities and move from theory to practice. Research needs are discussed regarding who shall devise, implement, and coordinate such a policy mix, considering negotiating power, timing and complexity.

Keywords: Resource management; Multi-level governance; Sustainable development; Policy coherence; European Union; Governance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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