Despite good progress in developing environmental laws and policies, there is growing evidence that OECD countries are generally not on track to achieve some of their key environmental goals. One of the main reasons is the implementation gap that exists between policy objectives and performance. Insufficient compliance with environmental requirements is an important part of this implementation gap. OECD work on environmental compliance assurance and its three main aspects – compliance promotion, compliance monitoring and enforcement – has been underway since 2007.
The 2009 OECD report “Ensuring Environmental Compliance: Trends and Good Practices” provides policy makers, environmental regulators, and other stakeholders with a comprehensive analysis of the design and implementation of government programmes to ensure compliance with pollution prevention and control regulations, particularly in the industrial sector. The report identifies “good practices” that were observed in six OECD member countries (Finland, France, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US) and two major emerging economies (China and Russia), sets these practices in a context of the regulatory cultures that exist in each country, and points to the key trends across the different systems.
To respond to the growing demand for results-oriented work methods and the need for performance management and accountability at the time of severe budget constraints, more and more environmental enforcement authorities are working to develop indicators to characterise improvements in behaviour of the regulated community (intermediate outcomes) or environmental conditions (final outcomes) stemming from their activities.
The paper “Outcome Performance Measures of Environmental Compliance Assurance: Current Practices, Constraints and Ways Forward” (2010) analyses the experience of ten OECD countries in the design and implementation of quantitative indicators used to assess the outcomes of environmental enforcement authorities’ efforts to ensure compliance with pollution prevention and control regulations.
This work will continue in 2013-14, addressing in depth a smaller number of issues of the design and implementation of outcome indicators of environmental compliance assurance in light of the guidance provided by the OECD countries that participated in the earlier work.
Three programmatic elements of environmental enforcement are key to ensuring its consistency: the targeting of compliance monitoring; the selection of an enforcement instrument and the timeliness of non-compliance response; and the size of monetary penalties for non-compliance. Accurate and complete information on the performance of sub-national and local competent authorities is an important prerequisite for the evaluation of nationwide consistency of enforcement.
The report “Environmental Enforcement in Decentralised Governance Systems: Toward a Nationwide Level Playing Field”(2011) analyses approaches to managing environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement in several OECD countries with decentralised systems of environmental governance. It focuses principally on strategies and instruments for promoting consistency in the implementation of national environmental law.
The study “Green Transformation of Small Businesses: Achieving and Going Beyond Environmental Requirements” (2012) aims to help environmental and other competent authorities in OECD countries to promote green business practices among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The paper analyses different ways to establish environmental regulatory requirements for facilities with low environmental risk (most of which are SMEs). It also examines how to design and apply information and market-based tools to promote compliance with such requirements and adoption of cleaner technologies and good environmental management practices. The paper suggests several ways to increase the effectiveness of these promotion tools with respect to the SME community.