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Innovating Environmental Compliance Assurance

Innovating Environmental Compliance Assurance, edited by Henk Ruessink and Martin de Bree, is the outcome of the conference Improving Environmental Performance: Next Generation Compliance Tools, Theory and Practice. The event was hosted by Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and coorganised with INECE.

Regulatory approaches to environmental challenges need effective compliance mechanisms in order to be successful. Laws and regulations, however smartly and eloquently they may be drafted, will not bring results if the regulatees fail to comply with them.

The ultimate goal of any intervention is to turn a situation of non-compliance into one of compliance and to prevent infringements in the future. The approaches adopted in order to achieve this goal may be of a formal or legal nature (legal orders, fines, sanctions), or of another kind (e.g. communication, information exchange). Whatever intervention is selected for the specific situation, it is crucial to make use of the latest insights and possibilities in order to ensure that it is up to date and fit for purpose.

Methods and approaches that were considered adequate yesterday are potentially less so today, and are likely to be inadequate tomorrow. This is an obvious consequence of the intrinsic dynamics of societies, including the development and application of science and technology.

The competent authorities can and should take advantage of the opportunities offered by scientific and technological developments to improve the quality of their work. The huge progress in ICT has created unprecedented possibilities to disseminate and collect information, and to be in touch with the regulated community. In addition to these important innovations in hardware and software, the social and behavioural sciences are offering new insights, possibilities and methods that may assist in drafting improved approaches towards environmental compliance. Drivers, mechanisms and incentives that stimulate compliance of organisations and individuals are better understood and can be used to develop more effective governance schemes and arrangements. An interactive learning process that takes into account these societal developments and the findings of social and behavioural research can be of great help in drafting innovating visions for effective environmental policies and their implementation. However, this can only take place if the expertise and experiences of professionals in the areas of compliance monitoring and compliance assurance are actively incorporated in the design, introduction and evaluation of the new environmental governance settings.

The conference proceedings are available for download.