ARCHIVE: How can I ensure a policy is sustainable?

The Stretching the Web tool was developed with the aim of helping practitioners to integrate Sustainable Development into their policy making as well as project or programme work. The web is a simple graphic that allows you to easily explore a broad range of key positive and negative impacts. There is a flash player demo that explains more and information below:

Why is Stretching the Web relevant?

Create your policy webIt takes its questions from the Better Regulation Executive’s (BRE) Specific Impact Test’s Full Checklist. The ‘full checklist’ pulls together the impacts that are covered in all the separate specific assessments, from Race Equality to Competition Impacts Assessment or Environmental Impacts Tests, into a summary of the impacts that must be considered in policy and regulation. The IA is mandatory within Government for all policy development.

The purpose of the web is to provide a graphical representation of the impacts of your policy or project. Many policymakers think of sustainable development as a ‘trade-off’ or ‘balance’ between economic, environmental and social impacts. In fact, we should think of it as ‘stretching the web’ – mitigating negative impacts, and increasing positive impacts.

Six ways that it will make your job easier

Creating a web for your policy can help you be sure that it is contributing to sustainable development by helping you to:

  1. PREPARE for the specific impact tests section of the Impact Assessment (IA).
  2. COMPARE policy options easily according to their impacts by creating a web for each.
  3. COMMUNICATE to Ministers or senior officials quickly and effectively on how the pros and cons of the options and your proposed policy.
  4. Identify where the policy has STRENGTHS or WEAKNESSES and where further research is needed.
  5. PROJECT how the impacts of a policy or programme will change over time, allowing you to think long-term.
  6. DEVELOP analytical skills and an awareness of wider impacts by making it easier for participants to think about how their policy or project impacts on a range of issues.

How it works and how you can use it

Put simply:

  • You should aim for a web that is on neutral scores or higher all the way round.
  • The larger it is the greater benefits it will bring.
  • An inward spike is a weakness you should try a readdress if possible; while a spike out is a key strength.

To explore the likely long-term impacts of your policy, we recommend you conduct an exercise to produce a ‘web’ for your programme or policy projecting for 2 years time, 5 years time and 10 years time. Having done that as accurately as you can you are in a better position to understand what the best long-term approach is likely to be.

Users rank their policy outcomes on a number of questions, which are then displayed as a simple web which allows for the easy identification of ‘bites’ or negative impacts of the policy. This enables policy makers to identify areas for further work e.g research or engagement with partners to continue to develop the policy.

This Flash Player demo demonstrates how the web works. Each question in the IA checklist becomes a 'spoke' of the web. The joining strands are created by joining up the self-assessed ‘score’ for each question, from -2 (very negative impact) to +2 (very positive impact).

Page last modified: 2 December 2009