Environmental Tools Guide

Environmental tools used by government, industry and non-profit organizations.


Environmental tools are mechanisms to meet environmental objectives and outcomes; they encourage environmentally desirable behaviour. This Environmental Tools Guide was developed as a resource for policy makers to encourage a greater understanding of the range of tools available to both government and our stakeholders.

Types of tools

This guide introduces 5 kinds of environmental tools:

  1. Cooperative agreements
  2. Information disclosure
  3. Market-based instruments and fiscal
  4. Regulations
  5. Voluntary stewardship/corporate environmental responsibility

We use the best tool to meet the multiple goals of a given situation. Each has its strengths and limitations. An ideal tool:

  • promotes a cleaner environment
  • is cost-effective, absolutely fair, equitable, and capable of meeting rapid change in science and technology

The role of the Alberta government is to:

  • develop and implement these tools
  • verify compliance
  • track environmental performance commitments
  • monitor and evaluate environmental quality

Where required, the department will also enforce environmental law in the province, including sanctions, monetary fees and charges.

For more information on the 5 environmental tools:

For tool developers

This Environmental Tools Guide outlines a conceptual framework to support audiences in choosing the most appropriate tools to achieve specific environmental outcomes.

The range of environmental tools includes:

Traditionally, governments have relied on regulatory approaches, to achieve environmental protection and natural resource conservation. Increasingly, governments are employing innovative tools to meet policy goals. A comparison of traditional and innovative tools highlights these different dimensions in more detail.


Questions about this guide? Email Stephen Dobson.