Evidence-based Instruments


Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
The RIAs have to cover all consequences, whether they be positive or negative, of an economic, administrative and environmental nature, affecting the state, municipalities, regions, business, citizens and relations to the European Union. This includes questions of sustainability. Sustainability is a central concern in government policy and includes economic, fiscal as well as environmental sustainability.
Cirkulære om bemærkninger til lovforslag og andre regeringsforslag og om fremganhsmåden ved udarbejdelse af lovforslag, redegørelser, administrative forskrifter m.v. https://www.retsinformation.dk/Forms/R0710.aspx?id=20940 (accessed 3 May 2013).
The Finnish government understands that regular and complete assessments of regulations are fundamental to the governing of complex and open societies and economies. In consequence, the country has a comprehensive regulatory impact assessment program in place. Also, Finland has formally adopted a regulatory impact assessment strategy that contains instructions to be carried out when drafting legislative proposals, complemented by separate instructions issued by ministries. Assessments involve the use of multiple indicator sets, various interests are consulted and different techniques used. Generally speaking, aspects of sustainability form an integral part of the assessment process. Variations between forecasts and actual outcomes are monitored over time. Every four years, the government submits a report to parliament on the progress made in implementing Agenda 2030 goals in Finland.
New Zealand
Without using the term “sustainability” explicitly, the regulatory impact assessment (RIA) process includes major aspects of this concept. Part of the quality-assurance monitoring process is to check whether all substantive economic, social and environmental impacts have been identified (and quantified where feasible). In addition, it is an integral part of RIAs to plan for regulatory instrument reviews that consider, among others, whether problems persist and if objectives are being met. More specifically, the Child Poverty Reduction Act requires current and future governments to set three- and ten-year targets for reducing child poverty. It also establishes a suite of measures that will track progress on reducing child poverty, and requires annual reporting on identified child-poverty-related indicators. This work currently sits within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, because the prime minister is the minister for this portfolio
Regulatory Impact Analysis Handbook (Wellington: The Treasury 2013).
In the United Kingdom, the whole RIA process aims to provide support for sustainable policymaking. The assessment is based on a wide range of different indicators, including social, environmental and ecological. However, economic indicators seem to be the most important. The assessments analyze the impact of regulation over several time periods (i.e., short, medium and long-term), and they attempt to take into account external shocks and irregular developments. There is a sustainable development impact test to complete for all relevant policy proposals.
Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
The potential environmental effects of legislative proposals have to be evaluated as a part of regulatory impact assessments, as do effects on employment. Various decrees require that financial and other issues be assessed. Analysis may focus on the short, medium or long term according to specific RIA legal requirements, although the typical analysis focuses on a period of five years. In its annual RIA reports, the government explicitly commits itself to dealing with the SDGs.

While Austria features an overarching sustainability strategy, there remains considerable room for improvement. Still, the formation of a new government in early 2020, which included the Greens as the junior coalition partner, has led to several (if partially symbolic) improvements. In 2020, the government published its first voluntary national report on the implementation of SDGs (Freiwilliger Bericht zur Umsetzung der Nachhaltigen Entwicklungsziele/SDGs). In 2021, the government’s budget included for the first time specific information about which SDG is to be accomplished by the respective legislative projects of a department, which means that legislative goals are now systematically linked to sustainability goals. Further, efforts have been made to reach out to and involve Austrian civil society. In September 2021, the first SDG Dialogforum Österreich: Building Forward mit der Agenda 2030 took place. The forum used a hybrid format with participants representing different quarters, and was intended to provide the basis for intensive collaboration between government, public administration, the science community and civil society.


Germany applies a proven, systematic and well-integrated system of sustainability checks that are an important aspect of its legislative impact assessments. The parliamentary Council for Sustainable Development (Parlamentarischer Beirat für nachhaltige Entwicklung, PBnE) supervises the government’s sustainability strategy through a systematic sustainability impact assessment of draft regulations and directives. The PBnE was established in 2004 and must be reconstituted after every parliamentary election. According to the PBnE audits, the coverage and quality of sustainability checks has strongly improved. Whereas 56% of all checks in 2011 were found to be dissatisfactory, the PBnE approved of 96% of all checks in the last legislative (Bundestag 2021).

Established in 2001, the German Council for Sustainable Development (GCSD) is another important actor in this area. In 2020, Chancellor Merkel appointed 15 members from civil society, industry, the research community and politics for a three-year term. This body is tasked with contributing to the implementation of the National Sustainability Strategy by identifying action areas, developing specific project proposals and increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability issues. The GCSD acts independently in choosing the topics it addresses and the actions to be taken (GCSD 2022).
Bundestag (2021): Unterrichtung durch die Bundesregierung Bericht über die Nachhaltigkeitsprüfung im Rahmen
der Gesetzesfolgenabschätzung, Deutscher Bundestag, 19. Wahlperiode, Drucksache 19/32709, 20.10.2021.

GCSD (2022): German Council for Sustainabile Develpment, https://www.nachhaltigkeitsrat.de/en/the-council/ (accessed: 15 January 2022).
In the Netherlands, RIAs are broadly and effectively applied in two fields: environmental impact assessments (EIMs) and administrative-burden-reduction assessments (ABRAs). EIMs have been legally mandated since 1987. Anyone who needs a government license for initiating substantial spatial or land-use projects with potentially harmful environmental impacts is obliged to research and disclose potential project impacts. More than 1,000 EIM reports have been administratively and politically processed. They guarantee that environmental and sustainability considerations play a considerable role in government decision-making. However, environmental impact assessments are sometimes subordinated to economic impact assessments. There are no systematic social – or, for example, health – impact assessments. In 2017, and repeatedly in later years, the DNB (Dutch National Bank) warned that there would a review of whether firms in the financial sector had sufficiently explored the risks of climate change in their policies. In the water sector, similar stress tests of policies by water management boards, and municipal and local water management/emergency plans are being prepared. In 2018, the results of recent climate-change platform debates, and negotiations between government, business and other stakeholders were elaborately scrutinized and re-calculated by the Planning Bureau for the Living Environment (PBL).

Nevertheless, as reported elsewhere (see “Environment”), the Dutch government has regularly helped economic sectors (farmers, fishermen, civil aviation) delay necessary action and downplay the urgency of sustainability problems. This continued hesitation and delay finally drove environmental activists to sue the government successfully for negligence and lack of effort (in the Urgenda and nitrogen emission cases).

Given the trend toward operationalizing the Sustainable Development Goals into measurable units, and similar efforts to broaden conventional economic indicators like GDP into an indicator system measuring welfare more broadly, it is to be expected that environmental RIA practices will be affected sooner or later.
NRC.next, “DNB waarschuwt financiële sector voor risico’s klimaatverandering, 4 October 2017”

Kennisportaal Ruimtelijke Adaptatie, “Verpliche stresstest wateroverlast voor waterschappen en gemeenten,” consulted 12 October 2017

PBL, Analyse van het voorstel voor hoofdlijnen van het klimaatakkoord, 27 September 2018 (www.pbl.nl>publicaties, accessed 31 October 2018)

M. Chavannes, 19 July, 2019. De net-niet-politiek van Nederland: zwoegen aan het Klimaatakkoord om draagvlak te creëeren voor rustig aan doen. (decorrespondent.nl, accessed 8 November 2019)

Me Judice, 2 apr 2021 Stam and van Zanden, De politieke neutraliteit van bbp ontmaskerd
There has been no standard, separate check required for “sustainability” as such. Assessments have been expected to consider the important costs and benefits relevant to a particular project or policy. While environmental considerations figured prominently in some cases prior to 2016, environmental issues were aggressively dismissed by the Trump administration. Sustainability checks were either manipulated, ignored or simply did not take place. There were undoubtedly some areas of government – below the radar of Trump, his thin cadre of political appointees, and the business lobbyists that have his attention – in which serious sustainability checks were taking place and guiding decisions. Unsurprisingly, the Biden administration has embraced a strong sustainability agenda that repudiates the Trump White House’s policies. Sustainability is now a key objective of the Biden administration, which is fostering an expansion of sustainability checks.

On December 8, 2021, President Biden issued an executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs through Federal Sustainability (EO), which sets out a range of ambitious goals to deliver an emission reduction pathway consistent with Bidens’ goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% from 2055 levels by 2030 and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Canada does not have a formally adopted sustainability strategy. In a sense, this is not surprising, as there are different types of sustainability (environmental, economic, social). There is also no consensus – legislatively based – as to what sustainability means or to how it should be measured. To be sure, many RIAs address sustainability issues, but the methodologies used differ widely. That noted, however, the new legislation of the Impact Assessment Act has broadened assessments considerably (including future generations)and generally RIAs do consider short-term, medium and longer-term implications of projects, as for example with issues of erosion in biodiversity.
The government’s Instructions for Official Studies and Reports do not explicitly mention the SDGs. The recently revised instructions on how to conduct economic impact analyses – which are to be conducted for major policy proposals – refer explicitly to calculating costs for greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, supplementary guidelines specifying the examination of environmental impacts have existed since the early 2000s.

There is some evidence available on how the government applies RIAs. The overall picture is that policy alternatives are seldom evaluated, and that the quantification of the costs and benefits of different alternatives is relatively rare. While impact assessments may cover aspects included in the SDGs, depending on the policy in question, the implementation of SDG goals is not systematically covered in impact assessments.

There is no adopted strategy for a national implementation of the SDGs. Government, local and regional authorities are advised to integrate SDGs into their policies and planning. The progress of implementation is monitored by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization.
Environmental sustainability is one of several mainstreamed goals in the policy process. In theory at least, all government bills, procurements and directives to royal commissions are supposed to be assessed to determine their impact on environmental sustainability. As for other types of sustainability criteria, there is little evidence available about the degree to which they are considered in the RIA process.
The government conducts effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA. Given the decentralized political and administrative system of Switzerland, however, they are only used in few departments.

The Federal Office for Spatial Development uses the Sustainability Impact Assessment (Nachhaltigkeitsbeurteilung, NHB) and the Federal Office for the Environment uses the Economic Impact Assessment (Volkswirtschaftliche Beurteilung, VOBU). There is no social impact assessment at the federal level.
Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA, but are not very comprehensive (Cvachovcová and Polášek 2020). The checklist requires a response to the question of whether there are effects on social, economic and environmental issues and for an indication of what those effects are. A set of 2016 amendments to the RIA guidelines specified how to assess or quantify these effects. Criteria are refined by the relevant ministries on an ongoing basis.
Cvachovcová, P., M. Polášek (2020): Možnosti zahrnutí perspektivy udržitelného rozvoje do systému
hodnocení dopadů v ČR. Prague. (https://www.cr2030.cz/zavazky/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2021/03/Moz%CC%8Cnosti-zahrnuti%CC%81-perspektivy-udrz%CC%8Citelne%CC%81ho-rozvoje-do-syste%CC%81mu-hodnocen%C3%AD-dopadu%CC%8A-v-%C4%8CR_final.pdf).
The dimension of sustainability is included in the methodological guidelines for RIA. The guidelines demand an assessment of the reviewed policy’s impact over the short, medium and long term. However, sustainability concerns are given a marginal role in the impact-assessment process overall. The existing set of indicators is not explicitly linked to the sustainability check.

Estonia’s long-term strategy Eesti 2035 presents an integrated vision for the country’s balanced and sustainable development. Nine national priorities, presented in the strategy, explicitly reference the 17 SDGs.
In 2015, Israel adopted a long-term plan (2015 – 2030) to improve and advance a number of SDGs, as part of the U.N. Agenda 2030 Plan for Sustainable Development. The plan covers a wide variety of fields, including reduction of poverty, hunger and inequality; improvement of health outcomes, life quality and educational quality; promotion of gender equality, smart consumption and innovation; and the development of infrastructure, energy and sustainable production. Together with other members of the United Nations, Israel began reporting in 2016 on its efforts to realize the SDGs.

In addition, since 2011, the government has published “workbooks” every year, detailing the quantitative measures used to compare policies and policy goals over time. In 2019, Israel published its first voluntary national review, which reviews its progress regarding Agenda 2030, and presents its accomplishments in fields such as education, water, healthcare and the economy. However, the report also highlights areas that require further attention.
Adopting SDG goals – sustainable development goals“, Committee meeting of the 20th Knesset, Open Knesset Website, 2017 (Hebrew):

“Agenda 2030 – Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations“. Ministry of the Environment Website

Arlozorov, Meirav. “The Professionalist Revolution of the Government of Israel.” The Marker website. 2018 (Hebrew): https://www.themarker.com/allnews/1.5846420.

Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable Development, Netivei Israel Company Website (Hebrew):

“Israel earns UN praise at MFA-IDC conference on UN Sustainable Development,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website, 2017

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals – National Review, 2019 (Hebrew):

“Vision of Sustainability for Israel in 2030.” Ministry of the Environment Website 2019: http://kayamut2030.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=181%3Aindicators&catid=59&Itemid=149
In 2003, the government adopted the National Sustainable Development Strategy (updated last in 2011). The Ministry of Environment is responsible for coordinating projects related to this document. Lithuanian policymakers are supposed to conduct sustainability checks within the existing framework for regulatory impact assessment. The 2012 impact-assessment guidelines provide for the assessment of economic, social and environmental impacts, among other factors. Both short-term and long-term impacts should be assessed under the new guidelines. However, the guidelines do not provide an exhaustive set of impact indicators addressing these impact dimensions. Producing high-quality environmental reviews remains a challenge under the new system, which focuses on impacts within the business environment and remains a largely formal exercise. The ex ante evaluation of the 2014 to 2020 operational program supported by EU structural funds included strategic environmental assessment that considered the likely effects of EU investments on the environment (in line with EU and national legislation). Lithuania belongs to the group of OECD countries (57% of the group’s members) that have not adopted “green budgeting” practices. To sum up, although sustainability criteria are included in the list of factors to be considered when conducting impact assessments, the formal nature of those assessments means that sustainability checks suffer from the same problems as general impact assessments. If the government succeeds in improving its impact assessment processes, sustainability checks are also likely to become more effective.
OECD/European Commission, Joint survey on emerging green budgeting practices, 2021.
OECD, Mobilising Evidence at the Centre of Government in Lithuania. Strengthening decision-making and policy evaluation for long-term development, Paris: OECD, 2021.
So far, RIAs have often highlighted international benchmarking to reinforce their investigations. As one example, in a recent development, the Mexican government signaled its intention to become a world leader in sustainable tourism. Here, sustainability relates to energy efficiency, improved environmental performance and the protection of cultural heritage. The government partnered with the private firm EC3 Global to support the adoption of their trademark EarthCheck science and solutions for tourism operators and companies committed to sustainable practices and to align their performance with global benchmarks, endorsed by the World Tourism Organization. EarthCheck is an internationally recognized environmental management and certification program with more than 1,300 members in 70 countries. The program improves the operational performance of member organizations and reduces costs. However, like in most other OECD countries, RIAs in Mexico have up to now not fully embraced a multidimensional sustainability perspective as is foreseen by the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. This is a particular challenge against the backdrop of the United Nation’s Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals), which were supported by Mexico and require a multidimensional perspective – including social, economic and ecological dimensions – in public policymaking. However, Mexican government elites at the national level often still appear more likely to be aware of the SDGs than government elites in other OECD countries, which might lead to an improvement in the coming years.
South Korea
The assessment of policy-implementation sustainability in South Korea is regulated by the 2007 Sustainable Development Act and overseen by the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development, which reports to the Ministry of Environment. This body’s task is to implement, promote, share, educate, network, monitor and make policy proposals on sustainable development. The act addresses environmental quality, vulnerability to environmental degradation, environmental degradation level, the social and institutional capacities to respond, and responsibility sharing with the international community. The Moon administration promised to focus more strongly on sustainability-related issues, including reductions in youth unemployment rates, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the Moon administration promised to build no new nuclear power plants, and additionally promised to close 30 coal-fired power plants (10 by 2022; 20 by 2034). At the same time, the government appeared to be considering a continuation of previous governments’ problematic practice of prioritizing economic growth, for example by issuing waivers for regulations governing economic development or apartment construction within green-belt areas. While President Moon promised to highlight environmental sustainability, the actual effects on the RIA process remain to be seen.
Ko, Jun-tae. “Moon vows to shut down 30 more coal plants to bring cleaner air and battle climate change.” Korea Herald, September 8, 2020. http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20200908000676
Ministry of Government Legislation, http://www.moleg.go.kr/english/korL awEng?pstSeq=57720
Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development (PCSD), http://ncsd.go.kr:2020/index.asp
Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
Most of the regulatory impact assessments in Bulgaria are merely formal, with the exception of those involving budgetary and environmental issues. Bulgaria has a Fiscal Council, which assesses the fiscal sustainability of proposed regulations and policies. Environmental checks focus mostly on issues of pollution and wilderness protection, and less on greenhouse gas emissions. Other economic and social impacts are generally addressed superficially, and the input of non-government actors in the public-consultation process, although formally sought, has little visible impact.

Sustainability checks and sunset procedures are required, but are formal in nature and are not carried out in practice.
RIAs do not necessarily analyze a regulation’s impact on sustainability in the broad sense. Short-, medium- and long-term analysis tends to focus exclusively on economic rather than ecological or social issues. Some exploratory efforts have been made to include wider and standardized sustainability checks within the RIA framework in the future.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2021”, 2021, https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/governance/oecd-regulatory-policy-outlook-2021_38b0fdb1-en, last accessed: 13 January 2022.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “Reviews of Regulatory Reform
Evaluation Report: Regulatory Impact Assessment (Chile)”, 2017, https://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/regulatory-impact-assessment-in-chile.htm, last accessed: 13 January 2022.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “Regulatory Policy in Chile: Government Capacity to Ensure High-Quality Regulation”, 2016, https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/governance/regulatory-policy-in-chile_9789264254596-en, last accessed: 13 January 2022.
Some of the suggested sustainability checks are included in the RIA Guidelines published in 2009 (a 97-page document), but there is no explicit mention of “sustainability” in that document and it does not seem that such checks are integrated into the RIA process. There is explicit provision for the inclusion of poverty impact assessments.

A strategic environmental assessment was built into the government’s 2021 Climate Action Plan. It remains to be seen whether it will deliver better and, in particular, more transparent regulatory impact assessment.
Government of Ireland (2021) ‘Climate Action Plan 2021’.
Sustainability checks within the framework of RIA are still underdeveloped but are gradually improving. The reports of the Prime Minister’s Office to the parliament show that they are not yet systematically integrated within RIA and they are not exhaustive from the point of view of the indicators included (economic indicators still play a greater role than social and environmental ones). With a decision taken in 2017, the PMO together with the Ministry of Environment will exercise tighter control over the adoption of sustainability criteria in regulation. In line with the policies of the European Union, both the second Conte government and the Draghi government indicated their willingness to pay greater attention to sustainability criteria in their policies and to integrate SDGs in the RIAs. So far, however, the attention given in RIA reports to this aspect has not improved significantly (Relazione annuale 2020).
https://www.mite.gov.it/pagina/la-strategia-nazionale-lo-sviluppo-sostenibile (accessed 29 December 2021)
https://presidenza.governo.it/DAGL/uff_studi/RelazioneAnnuale2020.pdf (accessed 29 December 2021)
In 2018, the Council of Ministers approved the “Action Plan for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda” with the participation of all ministerial departments, the autonomous communities and local entities. Since that time, the government has established a comprehensive institutional governance system with the goal of ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form a common basis for decision-making in Spain. The Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030 has executive powers for the development and coordination of actions related to the SDGs; the government’s Delegated Commission for Agenda 2030 coordinates interministerial dialogue; the Sectoral Conference for Agenda 2030 facilitates coordination with the governments of autonomous communities; and the Sustainable Development Council acts as an advisory body involving the private sector, trade unions, academia and civil society organizations. Moreover, the parliamentary Joint Commission for the Coordination of the Agenda 2030 Strategy monitors their implementation.

The National Strategy contains specific impact indicators for monitoring SDG implementation (144 indicators have been identified). The SDGs are also mentioned in the RRP and the annual budget law. In 2021, the government submitted its latest voluntary national progress report to the High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development of the United Nations.

However, the RIA framework designed by the 2017 decree does not provide a set of indicators to be specifically addressed by the analysis. Only gender impact and administrative costs are systematically assessed. The analyses do not consider either of these types of impact as they might unfold over time.
Gobierno de España (2021), Voluntary National Review 2021, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/memberstates/spain
Croatia adopted a sustainability strategy in 2009. However, neither this strategy nor the RIA Strategy or subsequent RIA action plans provide for comprehensive sustainability checks. RIAs are supposed to consider a broad range of impacts, including fiscal, economic, social and environmental, but the actual quality of assessments is low. There is no systematic differentiation between the short, medium and long term.
So far, assessment questionnaires inquire on positive and negative impacts of a policy proposal across various aspects of the economy, society, and environment as well as on the processes and work of the government. They also include questions on methods and processes followed, such as interactions with other ministries’ services and consultations with the public and other stakeholders.

There are three questionnaires: for new legislation or amendments, for legislation transposing EU directives into national law and for legislation ratifying international treaties.

Questions on sustainability remain exclusively economic, focusing on budgetary impacts and macroeconomic effects. An assessment of possible impacts on human rights is still absent.
There is no real systematic sustainability strategy except in those cases where EU regulations require such an examination. In most instances, political jockeying tends to prevail over policy analysis. In many instances, decisions are mainly based on political arguments regardless of social, financial or environmental costs. The sustainability argument is mainly used by opponents of a policy or envisaged equipment (the Nantes airport is a clear example of this). Given that every government attempts to pass as many measures in as short a period of time as possible, any preliminary evaluation tends to be regarded as a loss of time, since the crucial variable is the ability to respond swiftly to the pressure of public opinion. This strategy often appears to be misguided. Indeed, since opponents are unable to make their voice heard, they tend to rely either on judicial remedies (potentially delaying projects for many years) or on violent protest. Radical environmental activists, for instance, have become a major impediment to many public and private projects. However, in recent years the impact of climate change has bolstered the legitimacy and utility of sustainability studies, such as those reviewing zoning in flood-prone areas, or others reviewing additional risks related to environmental issues (use of pesticides or fertilizers, for instance).
The new legislation on RIAs, passed in 2019, requires that the RIA for every bill submitted to parliament includes statistical, economic, environmental and town planning data. It is expected that the law’s impact is checked against such data. However, the law does not specifically mention 17 SDGs nor does it require that RIAs are aligned with the SDGs.
Law 4622/2019 article 62 para. 3 requires that the RIA includes detailed data.
Regulatory impact assessments are a compulsory regulatory tool in Malta but were below effective levels. Strong training programs within the public service has raised the effectiveness of this regulatory process. European Commission reports highlight this progress. In the past, subsidies for public transport programs were increased and this was greatly extended in the 2022 budget, which promised free public transport by October 2022. Furthermore, the efficiency of the power-generation sector has been improved, which is of the cleaner type and current plans include moving Malta on to the European gas pipeline grid, while water management has also been greatly improved. Meanwhile, a more holistic approach has been adopted to ICT tools that ensure greater coordination, and that policies and programs are better assessed for sustainability. Other areas are use of ICT in schools and greater use of digital platforms. Until recently, sustainability checks were common mostly in areas involving planning and the environment; however, these have now successfully been extended to the economic sphere, as EU and credit-rating reports indicate. However, strong questions need to be asked about the lack of progress in areas touching on planning.
In sum, assessments are not based on an exhaustive set of social, economic and environmental indicators. Some projects are, but most are not. Malta’s small size always brings into debate what should be prioritized, with the economy more often than not taking precedence. This can be attributed to the need to maintain a standard of living based on free education, free healthcare and sustainable pensions.
http://ec.europa.eu/europe2020/maki ng-it-happen/index_en.htm
European Commission Country Report 2021.
Annual Report by the office of the Prime Minister 2020.
The new impact assessment procedure expands the list of indicators to be assessed. Compared to the previous procedure, it also includes the following aspects: impact on equal opportunities and rights of persons with disabilities; impact on human rights, democratic values and the development of civil society; effect on the diaspora; environmental impact, including climate neutrality; impact on gender equality; social impact, including impact on groups at risk of social exclusion; and impact on the implementation of information society policies.

The need to assess the impact of draft legal acts on the indicators specified within the National Development Plan was retained, and the amount of information to be provided for ex post evaluation was expanded. Furthermore, when assessing the impact of the draft legislation on the economy, the impact on the macroeconomic environment, sectoral competitiveness, the business environment, small and medium-sized enterprises, competition, and employment now must also be reviewed. All these impact assessment topics are included in the new annotation form in a structured data format.

The country’s sustainability agenda is incorporated in the Latvia 2030 strategy. As draft policies are assessed for compatibility with this strategy, sustainability issues may be taken into consideration. The Cross-Sectoral Coordination Centre (PKC) provides input to the drafting of policies, highlighting sustainability issues. The PKC also conducts an assessment of Latvia’s strategic goals, which includes sustainability assessments.
Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia until 2030, Available at: http://www.pkc.gov.lv/sites/default/files/images-legacy/LV2030/LIAS_2030_en.pdf Last accessed: 05.01.2022
RIA is undertaken for all regulations in Luxembourg, and takes the form of a checklist mainly focusing on administrative burdens and enforcement costs. The 2019 OECD assessment notes that “Luxembourg currently refers to European Commission best practice instead of providing own guidance material.” Thus, the limited current focus of RIA in Luxembourg does not reflect European Commission standards. The assessments adds: “Luxembourg may consider creating bespoke guidance material to enhance domestic support for regulatory policy.” It is therefore essential to agree on regulatory impact assessment (RIA) procedures to “benefit from improved coherence and coordination between ministries, civil society and stakeholders.” Sustainability checks at all levels should be made transparent by establishing harmonized legislation with binding RIA standards.
“Indicators of Regulatory Policy and Governance Europe 2019 - Luxembourg.” OECD (2020). https://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/indicators-of-regulatory-policy-and-g overnance-2019-luxembourg.pdf. Accessed 14 January 2022.

“Better Regulation in Europe. Luxembourg.” OECD (2019). https://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/46547003.pdf. Accessed 14 January 2022.
Romania is formally committed to SDG implementation. It participated in the 2018 voluntary national review of the United Nation’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and has initiated a review of the country’s 2008 National Sustainable Development Strategy with a view to incorporating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The RIA methodology manual requires that sustainability concerns be incorporated in assessment reports. In practice, however, sustainability checks do not feature very prominently, are not done in a comprehensive manner, and draw on minimal sets of impact indicators. Romania has also adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy, which aims to support the 17 SDGs.
Ministry of the Environment (2018): Transformation Toward a Sustainable and Resilient Romania: Romania’s Voluntary National Review 2018. Bucharest (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/memberstates/romania).

Government of Romania (2018): Romania’s Sustainable Development Strategy 2030. Bucharest. (https://sdgtoolkit.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Romanias-Sustainable-Development-Strategy-2030.pdf)
The RIA methodology manual requires that sustainability concerns be incorporated in assessment reports. In practice, however, sustainability checks do not feature very prominently and are not undertaken in a comprehensive manner.

This might change as a result of the ongoing revision of the country’s sustainable development strategy. Slovakia took part in the 2018 voluntary national review of the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and has initiated a review of the country’s national sustainable development strategy with a view to incorporating the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The review process has included broad stakeholder participation and the creation of the Government Council for Agenda 2030, involving key line ministers, as well as representatives of NGOs, academia, the private sector, and associations of cities and regions of the Slovak Republic.
Deputy Prime Minister’s Office for Investments and Informatization of the Slovak Republic (2018): Voluntary National Review of the Slovak Republic on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Bratislava (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/20131Agenda2030_VNR_Slovakia.pdf).
Slovenia’s RIA guidelines provide for relatively far-reaching sustainability checks. However, the specification of assessment criteria and the set of indicators to be used suffer from gaps, and the actual quality of RIA is very uneven. In some cases, there are only vague assessments; in others, comprehensive analytical work is done. During the period under review, the quality of assessments has somewhat improved.
In the past, the government has conducted several sustainability checks within its regulatory impact assessment (RIA) framework, for instance for the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, the Habitat Directive, and the Discharge Directive. Within the scope of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, a project to assess the current state of sustainability in Turkey was launched. However, the project has since been postponed indefinitely.

On the other hand, these examples refer to internationally sponsored projects and are not an indication of general administrative practice. Politicians and experts widely use the term “sustainability” in policy slogans, but there is no formally adopted sustainability strategy in Turkey. In 2016, The Coordination Board of Internal Audit published Performance Audit Guidelines for Public Sector Internal Auditors, which includes sustainability checks as a component in performance auditing. However, there is no information about RIA sustainability checks. While it does refer to sustainable growth and development, the Annual Presidential Program of 2021 does not mention sustainable policy or policymaking, except for a reference to financial sustainability.
Gazibey, Y., Keser, A., & Gökmen, Y. (2014). Türkiye’de illerin sürdürülebilirlik açısından değerlendirilmesi. Ankara Üniversitesi SBF Dergisi, 69(3), 511-544.
Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Regulatory impact assessments are compulsory, but seem to be treated as a formality for many important government decisions. There are however interesting and valuable exceptions, such as for the possibility of adding a fourth mobile phone operator in Belgium.
The Hungarian parliament passed a National Sustainability Strategy in March 2013 and afterwards the parliament’s environmental committee was transformed into the Committee of Sustainable Development (consisting of parliamentarians) and supported by the National Sustainability Council. However, the National Sustainability Strategy and RIA processes have not yet been coordinated, and sustainability checks do not play a major role in RIAs.
The latest revision of regulations on cabinet procedures, enacted in 2018, does not refer to sustainability checks as part of the impact assessment. However, financial impact is mentioned.
Reglur um starfshætti ríkisstjórnar. Nr. 791/2018.
The 2001 Government Policy Evaluation Act sets its evaluation criteria for policy effects on three indicators: necessity, efficiency and effectiveness. These terms are somewhat flexible and do not necessarily encompass sustainability concerns. Indeed, actual evaluations apply the three guiding principles in a somewhat loose way, with few rigorous quantitative assessments. Reviews cover both ex ante as well as ex post evaluations.

The Basic Program on Reducing Administrative Burden introduced in 2017, which sets the new framework for RIAs, also focuses almost entirely on cost reduction and cost effectiveness. As such, there is little consideration in relation to a regulation’s impacts on sustainability and the implementation of the SDGs.
MIC (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, Japan), Website on evaluation results, http://www.soumu.go.jp/menu_seisakuhyouka/kekka.html

Basic Program on Reducing Administrative Burden: Review results and future policies, Subcommittee for Administrative Burden Reduction, 24 April 2018, https://www8.cao.go.jp/kisei-kaikaku/english/pdf/180424/gyosei.pdf
Although Article 5 of Poland’s constitution enshrines the principle of sustainable development and the state’s responsibility to protect the environment, sustainability checks are not an integral part of regulatory impact assessments. The PiS government has been less concerned with issues of sustainability than were its predecessors.
Sustainability checks are not integrated systematically into impact assessments. They may take place in some assessment processes but not in others, in a rather ad hoc fashion that depends on who is carrying out the impact assessment. The same is true with regard to the use of sustainability-focused indicators, as well as the temporal dimension of the analyses.
Sustainability checks are not an explicitly integrated component of RIAs in Australia. Australia has not formally adopted a sustainability strategy.
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