Keywords: information overload, information provision, informational elasticity, environmental policy, environmental information, sustainable development, sustainability
Is more information always better? An analysis applied to information-based policies for environmental protection
Environmental policy has intensively focused on information-based instruments that seek to change agents' behaviour through information provision. This information provision is generally considered as likely to ultimately improve environmental quality. We suggest a new and complementary way to consider information-based instruments. We formalise the insight that information provision differs from information impact by introducing the concept of informational elasticity. We show that, beyond an optimum level, an additional information load, regardless of the information quality, could do more harm than good. Indeed, some perverse effects could occur, resulting in a worse overall impact. Several policy and strategic implications, such as the potential conflict with the normative right-to-know principle and the manipulation of 'information overload', are stressed.