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What is Policy Analytics? An Exploration of 5 Years of Environmental Management Applications

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Our digital age is characterized by both a generalized access to data and an increased call for participation of the public and other stakeholders and communities in policy design and decision-making. This context raises new challenges for political decision-makers and analysts in providing these actors with new means and moral duties for decision support, including in the area of environmental policy. The concept of “policy analytics” was introduced in 2013 as an attempt to develop a framework, tools, and methods to address these challenges. This conceptual initiative prompted numerous research teams to develop empirical applications of this framework and to reflect on their own decision-support practice at the science-policy interface in various environmental domains around the world. During a workshop in Paris in 2018, participants shared and discussed their experiences of these applications and practices. In this paper, we present and analyze a set of applications to identify a series of key properties that underpin a policy analytics approach, in order to provide the conceptual foundation for policy analytics to address current policy design and decision-making challenges. The induced properties are demand-orientedness, performativity, normative transparency, and data meaningfulness. We show how these properties materialized through these six case studies, and we explain why we consider them key to effective policy analytics applications, particularly in environmental policy design and decision-making on environmental issues. This clarification of the policy analytics concept eventually enables us to highlight research frontiers to further improve the concept.

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This collaborative research was supported by a Grant from the ANU Global Research Partnerships Scheme, and two EU Erasmus+ Jean Monnet projects, the “Europa Policy Labs” and the “Water Policy Innovation Hub”.

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Correspondence to Yves Meinard.

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Meinard, Y., Barreteau, O., Boschet, C. et al. What is Policy Analytics? An Exploration of 5 Years of Environmental Management Applications. Environmental Management 67, 886–900 (2021).

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