Regular monitoring, evaluation and reporting are key features of modern public policy and regulation. They are essential for:
- understanding the success or failure of interventions
- enabling improvements to be identified and settings to be adapted to enhance effectiveness or increase efficiency
- providing accountability to the public.
Effective monitoring, evaluation and reporting of the EPBC Act, and of the broader national environmental system, is essential to achieve improved environmental outcomes. It is also central to improving and maintaining public trust in the environmental management systems (Chapter 4). If the community, and the regulated community in particular, don't have visibility of the outcomes arising from management intervention then they will question it.
Monitoring and evaluation is fundamentally linked to information and data management – it should inform the design of monitoring activities that provide data into the national environmental information supply chain (Chapter 10). The quality of the insights that can be drawn from evaluations, and how efficiently they can be derived, depends on how information is collected, collated, shared and analysed.
The Review acknowledges that evaluating the effectiveness of environmental policy is challenging and that attributing observed outcomes to individual management actions is extremely difficult. But that does not mean environmental monitoring and evaluation should be dismissed as too hard. This chapter examines the effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation of the EPBC Act. Because the Act includes settings for the national State of the Environment (SoE) report, it also explores the leadership role the Commonwealth plays in monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the effectiveness of the nation’s broader system of environmental management.