Professor Marius Aalders
Centre for Environmental Law, University of Amsterdam
Date: 14 May 2002
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Venue: CARR Seminar Room, H615
Since the late 1980s policy makers in industrialised countries call for more self-regulation by industry regarding the protection of the environment. This is reflected on a EU level in the EMAS directive (Eco Management and Audit Scheme) and in several earlier initiatives in some of the member states of the European Union. Also this policy has triggered a number of self-regulatory activities by industry in the EU as well in the United States. For example, the chemical industry introduced its international Responsible Care programme. Governments learn to adapt to the special structural and cultural needs of firms in enhancing their environmental performances. Forms of self-regulation are now being stimulated, although at the same time command and control strategies, such as permit issuing and the enforcement of environmental rules, are not forgotten. In the Netherlands more and more co-regulatory arrangements are being created. Apart form voluntary agreements between central government and industrial associations, on a regional and local levels governments are experimenting with co-regulation through a negotiating and consulting process resulting in a more flexible permit. Having participated for some years as a researcher in the permitting process between Amsterdam municipal officials and representatives of an R&D plant of an oil firm I observed this process leading to a new kind of relationship, based on trust and professional experience on both sides. This process of transactions between two parties has considerable consequences for the enforcement of environmental regulations by government and for the participation of public interest groups (PIGs) regarding governmental decision-making. The ISO 14001 standard and the EMAS-regulation of the EU (Community regulation on Environmental Management and Audit Scheme) both regulate the process of companies developing environmental management systems on a voluntary basis.
The advantages of this ´smart´ regulation are the creation of a better understanding between regulator and regulated and better performance by companies (and even increased revenues as a result of their improved performance).
There are also more negative feelings. Some companies think the negotiating process takes too much time. Some prefer the old fashioned command and control strategies. Some are not too happy about the flexible conduct of government, if this means government does not follow up with control visits, and in that way is loosing contact.
Some of the questions to be answered in this seminar are:
In what way EMSs have been successful in the UK compared to the Dutch situation?
Which particular strategy has been followed, a more self-regulatory or a ore co-regulatory approach ?
Is the implementation of an EMS itself a necessary or sufficient condition for real environmental improvement?
What motivates facilities to adopt a certified EMS?
Some methodological questions about researching EMSs and co-regulation will also be raised during the seminar.