Neil Gunningham and Darren Sinclair Over the last decade, considerable thinking has gone into the issue of how to design more efficient and effective regulation. Much of this has been in the field of social regulation, and that of environmental regulation, in particular. While not all the innovations that have emerged from a radical re-conception of the roles of environmental regulation have broad application to other fields of regulation, nevertheless many of them do. This chapter draws from our previous work on this area and seeks to identify some broad themes and insights based around the theme of ‘smart regulation’.1 We use this term to include an emerging form of regulatory pluralism that embraces flexible, imaginative and innovative forms of social control which seek to harness not just governments, but also business and other third parties. For example, we are concerned with self-regulation and co-regulation, with utilising both commercial interests and non-government organisations, and with finding surrogates for direct government regulation, as well as with improving the effectiveness and efficiency of more conventional forms of direct government regulation. TOWARDS PRINCIPLE-BASED REGULATORY DESIGN Because threats to the environment take many forms, the appropriate strategies to address environmental degradation are likely to be context-specific (Opschoor and Turner 1994). What sorts of policies work will be highly dependent upon the characteristics of the environmental issue under consideration. The strategies most effective in addressing point-source pollution from manufacturing are likely to be very different from those most suited to remedying land degradation or overfishing,...
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