In the environmental management and policy field, it often seems as if new tools and mechanisms were the crux of our capacity to resolve environmental issues. For decades, one new mechanism after another has been presented as the breakthrough that would remedy our impotence in controlling environmental crises.
But a tool or a mechanism is just that, a tool or a mechanism. It is just one part of (and no substitute for) a course of action, a strategy that may or may not reach the expected performance, depending on its fit with the challenge and situation at hand and its implementation. Just as we study organisations starting from such strategic environmental challenges, we insist on studying and assessing tools and mechanisms by firmly setting them back in the strategic situations and courses of action that will ultimately dertermine their effectiveness (or lack of it).
A good example of such putting back a tool in its strategic context is the analysis Geneviève Barnaud and I proposed of perverse effects of official wetland delimitation. [insert NSS paper on wetland delimitation, 1997]
My current work on the topic bears (1) on economic tools for biodiversity, (2) on ecosystem management accounting and (3) on indicators (especially with Suzanne Rabaud’s starting doctoral research work).