A prime role of the national government is to develop regulatory frameworks pertaining to the environment. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers and enforces 13 acts regulating the environment, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, acts pertaining to food quality, etc. Regulation is often referred to as the "command and control" component of environmental policy. Regulation is administratively easy to effect, but costly to enforce. Since in poorer countries regulatory frameworks, and associated standards, are often borrowed from the standards of first world countries, e.g., the U.S., the OECD, they tend to be more stringent than indigenously developed regulatory standards based on cost-benefit analysis would yield.
Assessment activity related to regulation should focus on:
1. Determination of the economic efficiency and equity / incidence impacts of regulations, assuming reasonable compliance. The economic costs of regulation in various sectors should be determined so that the costs (if any) of marginal gains in environmental quality can be determined.
2. Determining the extent of compliance with regulations in priority environmental sectors, i.e., those sectors where compliance would contribute most strongly to the nation's environmental mission. A weighting system could be devised that would value compliance progress in one sector relative to another (and compliance with differing regulatory frameworks within given sectors) relative to overall environmental strategy achievement.
3. Monitoring and assessing changes in behaviour as new regulations are introduced. Undertake follow-up assessment to identify why both compliers and non-compliers acted as they did to refine regulation and serve as background (for example, for use in subsystem simulation models) in formulating new regulations. Identify new behaviours indirectly related to regulations. For example, stricter solid waste dumping regulations may increase composting, as was the case in Phuket, Thailand.
Reference: Synthesis study on Modalities for Environmental Assessment for Integrating Environmental Considerations into Economic Policy Making Processes: East and Southeast Asia, ESCAP, 1998, unpublished.
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