As consensus grows internationally that traditional command and control approaches to environmental regulation have borne much of their low hanging fruit, how do national environmental agencies decide which types of regulatory reinvention work and which don't? In a period of decreasing budgets for many agencies, the need to maximise the effectiveness of the regulatory dollar is critical if environmental well-being is to be improved. The authors of this book have discovered that there is a deep-seated international crisis in the evaluation of tools for next-generation environmental regulation such as economic instruments and voluntary agreements as agencies struggle with a lack of information about regulatory reform, of what works and what doesn't, and of how best to harness the resources of both government and non-government stakeholders. Progress is being impeded unnecessarily by a lack of shared knowledge of how similar agencies elsewhere are meeting similar challenges and by a lack of data on the success or otherwise of existing initiatives. Despite recent and valuable attempts to deal with such problems in the European Union and North America, these remain islands of wisdom in a sea of ignorance. For example, when it comes to dealing with small and medium-sized enterprises very little is known, and what is known is not effectively distilled and disseminated. Much the same could be said about the roles of third parties, commercial and non-commercial, as surrogate regulators, and more broadly of many current initiatives to reconfigure the regulatory state. Based on the author's work for the OECD, Victorian Environmental Protection Authority and the Western Australian Department of Environment Protection, "Leaders and Laggards" addresses these problems by identifying innovative regulatory best practice internationally in a number of specific contexts, evaluating empirically the effectiveness of regulatory reform and providing policy prescriptions which would better enable agencies to fulfil their regulatory missions. Focusing primarily on the differing requirements for both corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises in North America and Europe, the book aims to complement existing initiatives and to expand knowledge of regulatory reform by showing: how existing experience can best be put to practical use "on the ground" by drawing lessons from experiments in innovative regulation internationally; by reporting and extrapolating on original case studies; and by advancing understanding on which instruments and strategies are likely to be of most value and why. The authors argue that the development of theory has outstripped its application. In essence, "Leaders and Laggards" aims to ground a myriad of theory on the reinvention of environmental regulation into practice.
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