How to use voluntary, self-regulatory and alternative environmental compliance tools: some lessons learnt



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HOW TO USE VOLUNTARY, SELF-REGULATORY AND ALTERNATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE TOOLS: SOME LESSONS LEARNT

JG Nel* and JA Wessels**

  1. Introduction

This article explores the way "alternative" environmental enforcement tools may be used to complement and support classical command and control tools in order to improve the overall environmental enforcement effort. The objective is not to list and discuss the alternative enforcement tools available and used in South Africa, as this information is readily available in the literature.1 The debate has shifted from what may be available to an enquiry into the demonstrated enforcement performance and effectiveness of these tools in an attempt to answer the question "do they work and deliver?". A second focus is to understand the framework conditions required to ensure performance and effectiveness to answer the question "why does what work?" A third issue that dominates the debate focuses on the policy challenges of environmental authorities across the world on the way in which to deal with two issues: (a) the official policy on the adoption and use of alternative enforcement tools; and (b) the most effective arrangements to ensure that such adopted tools do indeed contribute effectively and efficiently to the overall environmental enforcement effort.

In an attempt to stimulate debate on the fundamental questions posed regarding the adoption and use of alternative enforcement tools, four sub-themes and a case study are explored in this article. A generic typology of "new" or alternative enforcement tool categories is offered to set the scene. Secondly, the generally argued benefits and disadvantages of both command and control approaches and alternative enforcement tools are listed. Thirdly, framework conditions for the successful adoption and use of some of the enforcement tools are offered. Fourthly, empirical and other evidence is then explored to determine whether one of the most celebrated voluntary enforcement tools, environmental management systems,2 can actually drive sustained and consistent legal compliance and hence, environmental enforcement. Lastly, a South African case study is presented to illustrate the manner in which a combination of alternative enforcement tools has been successfully integrated with command and control tools to ensure consistent and sustained legal compliance once environmental authorisations have been issued.



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