„Evidence” is in the axis of the regulation planning rhetoric which has a clear significance for the scientists. This message not only suggests that policy makers widely accept the paradigm shift from (less adaptive and responsible) „traditional” to science-based policy making, but also creates new challenges for the scientists. The co-operation of policy and science is vital in making policy-data available, in performing analyses, in evolving new theories, and in developing assessments, since the outcomes of these processes can be deemed as policy-supporting evidence.
Additional important sources of evidence are the so called “best practices” (best ways of working, used by others, to achieve the policy objectives), and the other lessons learned. However, it is important to note that the simple copy of a “best practice” does not always guarantee the success in a new policy domain. Furthermore, policy problems and failures can also be deemed as evidence but, of course, as a practice to avert. These kind of evidence are sometimes more useful in avoiding future mistakes in policy decisions than the knowledge gained from success stories.
Science has multiple roles in this process: collecting and analyzing data, developing theories, evaluating results, advising policy-makers and steadily improving methodologies, or in short: providing a “technology” of effective policy-making.
As Sir Karl Popper argues "The only course open to social sciences is ... to tackle the practical problems of our time with the help of the theoretical methods ... A social technology is needed which can be tested by social engineering" (Popper 1945 vol ii p210) These two tools (i.e. theory and social technology) are indispensable for social sciences to deal with policy problems.
Instead of “social technology”, nowadays other terms are preferred (e.g. social planning, social change management, behaviour modification and social engineering). Since the latter term has some negative connotations (i.e. manipulation), it is important to underline, that ideally, environmental policies are implemented in agreement with the stakeholders. However, the final objectives remain the same: finding methods, instruments and processes to influence people’s behaviour to follow the expected rules or patterns. The arsenal of many sciences (psychology, law, criminology, sociology, organisational studies, anthropology, etc.) is deployed for this purpose. All of the above disciplines have dozens of theories and practical solutions to support the policy-process.
Within the framework of this study it is impossible to provide even a short overview of policy theories. Fortunately, dozens of authors discuss policy theories, for example McCool (1995), Dye (2004) and Fischer (2007). Regarding policy technologies a relatively wide range of tools is available and it seems plausible that new tools and approaches will be introduced in the future. The real and burning question for policy-makers and for the...