In recent years, industrializing countries have devoted much attention to developing and strengthening environmental institutions and regulatory frameworks to reduce industrial pollution. Many governments have established national environmental agencies and adopted standards and regulations similar to those of industrialized countries. While there is much to learn from the experience of countries with more mature environment programs, such 'imported' systems have not proven effective. Similarly, some countries have experimented with market-based instruments to encourage compliance, but this approach has not been applied to the extent anticipated.
Effective environmental regulations must first reflect their own context and be compatible with the administrative capabilities of regulatory agencies. Regulations from industrialized countries are inherently unenforceable in developing countries where institutional capabilities required to implement and enforce them are weak. Successful environmental regulations are also dependent on an overall culture of compliance that is the result of a country’s legal traditions, the maturity of its institutions, available resources, and the capacity and support of its citizens and
the private sector. Compliance does not automatically happen once requirements are legislated and issued; rather, it is achieved as result of targeted efforts that encourage behavioral changes among polluters.
Several mechanisms are now emerging as effective ways to improve environmental compliance in countries that lack the necessary institutional capabilities required for formal regulation. Rather than alternatives to environmental regulation, these approaches provide pathways to achieving environmental goals within a legal framework by developing a culture of compliance. While there is limited experience with these approaches, industrializing countries may have much to gain from them.
Pollution inventories can accelerate environmental compliance by providing the information base to understand pollution problems; identify priority actions; make informed decisions; and identify opportunities for waste minimization and cleaner production. On a facility level, a pollution inventory is a comprehensive, accurate and current accounting of specific pollutant discharges.