Compliance assurance is the weakest link in environmental policy implementation in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) countries. Low compliance with environmental requirements may stem from various causes, such as inadequate incentives provided by the regulatory framework, lack or poor design of important compliance assurance tools, and insufficient institutional capacity and resources of environmental authorities. Environmental compliance assurance programmes address these challenges through a broad array of actions taken by government agencies alone or in cooperation with other stakeholders.
The fundamentals of the reform of compliance assurance systems in EECCA were laid out in the “Guiding Principles for Reform of Environmental Enforcement Authorities in Transition Economies of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia” that were adopted at the “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference in Kiev in 2003. The Guiding Principles included, among others, recommendations on the responsibilities, powers, and organisation of environmental enforcement authorities; their working methods, strategies, and tools; as well as resources and financial management. The “Guiding Principles” represent a non-binding reference that aims at helping governments to identify key features of an effective and efficient system of environmental enforcement and to create a framework for international cooperation and support.
EAP Task Force work on environmental compliance assurance aimed at improving a range of specific tools in EECCA countries in line with the Guiding Principles, covering all three principal components of a compliance assurance system: compliance promotion, compliance monitoring (including self-monitoring by regulated entities) and enforcement. In addition, the EAP Task Force has helped countries to better understand the economic and financial aspects of compliance assurance, and establish a shared understanding of major notions in this field. Among such tools is English-Russian glossary of compliance and enforcement terms.
Several activities also addressed the performance of environmental enforcement authorities, through the development of compliance assurance indicators and peer reviews.