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A Study of Organisational Adaptation

Peter Carroll and Aynsley Kellow

The book reveals, for the first time, the origins, growth and complex role of the OECD as it celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, showing how it has adapted – for the most part successfully – to the changing needs of its members, both large and small.
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Chapter 12: The OECD and the Environment

Peter Carroll and Aynsley Kellow


By the mid-1960s national delegates to the OECD had begun to raise their government’s environmental concerns, and the Organisation’s work was expanded to include a ‘coherent environmental component’, with the focus being on the science relating to environmental threats and technologies for assessing and monitoring them. The initial priorities were pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in water, urban air quality, transportation and noise, and watershed management (Long, 2000, p. 10). This work was given impetus by the wreck of the Torrey Canyon and subsequent oil spill in 1967 and the attention focused on acid rain and the long-range transportation of air pollution by Swedish scientists in 1968. In 1970 the OECD established an Environment Committee, to be serviced by an Environment Directorate. As might have been expected in the OECD, it was intended that the Environment Committee would promote the integration of environmental and economic policies, and the aim was for it to produce work that would reduce pollution, assess environmental performance, develop environmental protection tools, and improve international data and information on environmental issues. It now has a number of activity areas in divisions, including an Environmental Health and Safety Division, within which is located the OECD Chemicals Programme. In this chapter we describe the emergence of the OECD’s work on the environment, describing first the context and the general trajectory of its development. We then explore its record in three areas – chemicals, hazardous waste and then biotechnology – showing that the OECD has developed an atypically large number of...

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