Voluntary environmental agreements (VEAs) - generally agreements between government and business - have been regarded by many as a key new instrument for meeting environmental objectives in a flexible manner. Their performance to date has, however, also led to considerable criticism, with several parties arguing that they are methods for avoiding real action, which goes beyond "business as usual". Is either of these positions justified? The aim of this book is to highlight and learn the lessons from existing experience, looking not just at results, but also at specific elements of agreements and also at the process of the agreement itself. Lessons are drawn from experience from across the world, covering the full range of environmental challenges, and from the perspective of key stakeholder groups. Importantly, the book also presents tools for assessing and improving existing agreements and includes recommendations and guidelines for future agreements in key areas such as climate change. The overall view of the book is that there is a real potential for the future use of VEAs as part of the policy mix and as a tool for sharing the responsibility for meeting environmental objectives. For the agreements to play this role, however, significant steps are needed to ensure that they are effective, efficient, equitable and appropriately linked to a portfolio of other instruments. The book is split into four sections. First, existing agreements, their development and efficacy are considered; second, the prospects for voluntary agreements in developing and transitional economies are discussed; third, a range of authors examine the role of VEAs as part of the policy mix to combat climate change; and, finally, the book concludes with an examination of how new tools for evaluating and improving VEAs could be utilized in the future. "Voluntary Environmental Agreements" should be of interest not only to academics, governments and businesses wishing to understand this specific instrument, but also to those already implementing or considering applying VEAs to meet their environmental objectives.
This book is a welcome and significant contribution to this debate . . . [it] goes way beyond a simple collection of case studies by a useful integration of conceptual, topical and geographical perspectives. It also brings new insights to the role of stakeholders (particularly NGOs), to the short- or long-term potential of VAs in climate change policies and to developing and transitional economies.' Jean-Philippe Barde, Head, National Policies Division, OECD Environment Directorate. 'This book is an essential companion for anyone in industry or government considering the use of voluntary environmental agreements. The 'devil is in the detail' and this book provides the requisite detail to get it right, or at least to avoid the worst errors in the design and execution of this interesting policy instrument.' Frank J. Convery, Heritage Trust Professor of Environmental Studies, University College, Dublin. 'Flavour of the month or genuine breakthrough in environmental regulation' Voluntary environmental agreements hold out the promise of inexpensive self-regulation and minimal government interference. Patrick ten Brink has assembled a balanced, cautious but impressive collection of case studies and reflections on this novel approach to environmental reform. This is essential reading for managers and policy-makers everywhere.' David Pearce, Professor of Environmental Economics, University College London. 'At their best VEAs have the potential to deliver sophisticated environmental solutions, yet at their worst they can institutionalise business-as-usual. This book's thorough assessment of agreements to date and their future possibilities will help deliver the more ambitious policy packages that environmental challenges now demand.' Ben Shaw, Senior Policy Officer, Green Alliance, UK. 'The European paper industry supports voluntary approaches as a cost-efficient way to address environmental issues. This book offers practical insights and a way forward to ensure the cost-effectiveness of VAs.' Annick Carpentier, Environment Director, Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI). 'As a new and innovative form of policy instrument, voluntary environmental agreements seem set to play an increasingly important role as part of the broader policy mix. This book provides an incisive, articulate and very timely analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.' Andrew Gouldson, Lecturer in Environmental Policy, London School of Economics, and Editor, European Environment. 'The use of voluntary (or negotiated) agreements has long been advocated by the electricity industry as an economic, cost-effective and flexible means of meeting jointly agreed targets. Once a target has been negotiated, there is a greater chance of it being met (or even surpassed) than by the use of other, more traditional, approaches, such as command-and-control measures or taxation. This book is a valuable contribution to the debate.' John Scowcroft, Head of Environment and Sustainable Development, Union of the Electricity Industry-EURELECTRIC. 'I am very impressed by the extensiveness of the issues analysed . . . For researchers and policy-makers this book is close to being a must. Congratulations to the Editor and Publisher.' Anders Larsen, Director, AKF, Copenhagen, Denmark. 'Voluntary environmental agreements tend to elicit strong views. For many of their proponents they are a miracle cure, making regulatory measures unnecessary. For sceptics, they are a dangerous distraction from effective environmental policy. This book is a much-needed dose of hard-headedness in a controversial field.' Rob Bradley, Energy Specialist, Climate Network Europe (CNE), Brussels, Belgium. 'This book provides an extensive overview of the debate on the function, role and place for voluntary initiatives and agreements. What interests me the most is that it also tries to provide the tools to give VEAs a level of maturity enabling serious work to reverse the negative environmental trends the planet now faces. VEAs should not be about regulatory capture, greenwash or ideology. They should bring real solutions to real-world problems, part of a mix of solutions, including regulatory ones, whose sum-effect will then be greater than the effect of each individual part.' Pieter van der Gaag, ANPED (The Northern Alliance for Sustainability).
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