Struggling with green goals

Ensuring Environmental Compliance: Trends and Good Practices

Despite their progress in developing green laws and policies, OECD countries are noton track to achieve some of their key environmental goals and commitments.

There are several reasons for this gap between intent and action. Compliance with environmental requirements is seldom, if ever, complete. Defining an appropriate level of compliance can be challenging, and detecting and taking action against non-compliance is complex and resource-intensive.

And the institutions that monitor compliance with environmental regulations must be independent and equipped to resist undue political pressure or corruption. Ensuring Environmental Compliance: Trends and Good Practices compares the systems that assure environmental compliance in eight countries representing different legal, institutional, and cultural perspectives: China, Finland, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK, and the US. While the study compliance are shaped by national traditions and cultures, the countries examined share many of the same problems. Some trends are noticeable. Governments are promoting compliance more aggressively, targeting small and medium-sized businesses.

There are also widespread moves to make enforcement more proportionate to the extent of non-compliance. For example, some countries are making more use of administrative, rather than criminal, measures for less severe violations. In more consensus based cultures, such as in Finland and Japan, where a warningis often enough to restore compliance, sanctions in general, and criminal ones in particular, are extremely rare.

The study recommends looking more closely at whether the choice and design of environmental policies affect the level of compliance. That analysis could help improve initial policy design. The report also suggests determining the minimum human and financial resources necessary to comply fully with environmental regulations. That could help government and industry do more with less.

ISBN 978-92-64-05958-0

©OECD Observer No 273, June 2009

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017