Sustainability Science Program Working Paper No. 2012-02

Sustainability Science Program Working Paper No. 2012-02

Industrial Pollution, Regulation and Growth: Governance Challenges and Innovations
The 2012 San Servolo Workshop on Grand Challenges of Sustainability

Rohini Pande, Mohammed Kamal Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
With Deanna Ford (HKS), Nick Ryan (MIT) and Anant Sudarshan (HKS/J-PAL SA)

Sustainable development requires government, industry and citizens to work together. The environmental costs of rapid growth, such as the depletion of natural resources and air and water pollution, may be checked by designing and implementing better environmental regulation. An executive session convened by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Venice International University on May 28–29, 2012 attracted leading experts from the fields of research, business, civil society and policy to San Servolo Island for an intensive two-day session. The goal of the Workshop was to identify regulations of industrial pollution and implementation methods for them that could work in the developing world, and to share experiences with such innovations. In the sessions, one overarching theme that emerged was the need for a long-term view of regulation that emphasizes process and structure and encourages the involvement of both public and private stakeholders through the strategic use of incentives. Such a broad approach to regulation requires more than one technique: participants discussed a range of tools from traditional command-and-control to innovative market-based mechanisms—as well as incentives from rewards to fines to voluntary initiatives—all of which can be used, combined, and adapted to particular circumstances. Other themes visited often during the Workshop were the importance of knowledge dissemination, transparency, and consistency in the application of regulation, and the need for high-quality data and how to gather it. All these would, in turn, enhance regulator credibility—a necessary feature of a well-functioning regulatory environment. The session was one in a series on Grand Challenges of the Sustainability Transition organized by the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University with the generous support of the Italy’s Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea. This summary report of the session is our synthesis of the main points and arguments that emerged from the discussions. It does not represent a consensus document, since no effort was made at the session to arrive at a single consensus view. Rather, we report here on what we heard to be the major themes discussed at the session. Any errors or misrepresentations remain solely our responsibility.

Keywords: industrial pollution, climate change, sustainable development, environmental policy, sustainability

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