Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Co-Regulation: What is it?

I’m in the process of editing an article about environmental co-regulation. My starting point for the article was a study of environmental law in Mexico, where the federal environmental agency has run a voluntary environmental compliance program called the National Environmental Audit Program (Programa Nacional de Auditoria Ambiental) since the early 1990s. The basic idea of the program is that a regulated facility can opt out of regular inspections (and potential penalties) by hiring a private third-party firm approved by the agency to audit its compliance and devise a compliance plan to correct any deficiencies. About 9,000 industrial facilities and other establishments, owned by many of the country’s largest companies, have joined the program over the years.

Studying this program, I arrived to the question: what kind of regulation is this? It had characteristics of both typical state-directed regulation and self-regulation. When I came across the term co-regulation, which has been used much more extensively in the European environmental law literature, I was happy to see that it fit. But the meaning of co-regulation (and for that matter, self-regulation) has not been well-specified, so the first task of the article became just that. For this purpose, I constructed the “regulatory spectrum” below. I hope that you find it interesting and useful in your own thinking about regulation.   And if you'd like to read my draft article, Co-Regulation in Mexican Environmental Law, I've posted it on SSRN.

- Lesley McAllister



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