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Cooperation in Environmental Governance – a New Tool for Environment Protection Progress

Author(s): Skaidrė Žičkienė

Journal: Engineering Economics
ISSN 1392-2785

Volume: 3;
Start page: 42;
Date: 2007;
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Keywords: direct regulation | market based instruments | enforcement | self policing | cooperation | voluntary environmental agreements | voluntary environmental initiatives

The idea of harmonizing economic growth with the laws of society development and the environment is ex-pressed in the concept of sustainable development. The environmental approach of sustainable development gives most attention to stability of natural systems, links between economic activity and environment health. The present governments and international organizations facing the risk of environmental destruction, have real-ized that environment protection issues are among the main problems to be solved in the 21st century. In the field of economics, these environmental problems have also been recognized as major economic problems. A number of studies have analyzed environment protection instrumentality and possible effects of environmental regulation on economic and social welfare. Both direct regulation and market-based instruments ignoring their defects have positive impacts on environment state. How-ever, the need to achieve environmentally friendly eco-nomic performance requires broadening the range of environment management instruments. This paper examines cooperative regulatory en-forcement in which companies self police their environ-mental actions and government provides regulatory re-lief. There are many forms of environmental cooperation known as codes of conduct, self declarations or commit-ments, voluntary auditing, voluntary environmental re-porting and in most cases they are defined as voluntary environmental agreements (voluntary initiatives). Agree-ments are aimed to find flexible mechanisms that put more responsibility on producers, but also leave more ways for individual solutions that can improve operation efficiency. As there are various forms of voluntary envi-ronmental agreements (voluntary initiatives) their indi-vidual aims also differ (publicity, benefits of shared in-formation, pre-emption of government regulation, etc.), but they all share one special feature – a positive effect on the quality of the environment. Voluntary agreements (initiatives) as a new instru-ment in environmental policy produce a lot of scepticism, mainly from environmentalists, who argue that “com-mand and control” regulation with strict monitoring sys-tem fits environment demands in the best way, when regu-latory relief is a dangerous distraction from effective en-vironmental regulation. Cooperation in solving environmental problems can give “best available results” only in the case of flexibility and mutual trust between companies and governments, in some cases trust between companies and environmental groups.However, environmental agreements are not a pana-cea and need to be applied in a mix of environmental management instruments, i. e. as a supplement to direct regulation and market-based instruments.
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