How can a society organize its system for regulating industrial activity so that sustained gains in environment, health and safety (EH&S) performance are obtained without unnecessarily restraining simultaneous progress in industrial competitiveness and socioeconomic welfare? To what extent can the regulatory approaches adopted by OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations serve as models for other societies? These questions are particularly important for the rapidly industrializing economies of the developing world, many of which have thus far employed a de facto policy of growth now and cleanup later. In the face of declining air and water quality and mounting local and international pressure there is now growing interest among these industrial economies in strengthening and broadening existing approaches to EH&S protection.
Many of these developing countries have looked to the United States and other OECD economies for possible models of EH&S management. There is certainly much to be gained from studying the OECD experience. But there are at least three compelling reasons to suppose that a broader frame of reference will also be useful. First, regulatory approaches in the OECD countries are themselves undergoing substantial reevaluation and change (OECD 1997). This reevaluation is linked to a growing interest in the roles that civil society, the corporate sector, technological innovation and markets can play as engines for improving EH&S performance. It is also linked to a growing recognition that it is necessary to address EH&S concerns within an analytical and policy framework of sustainable development. And in many cases, it has led to experiments with alternative ‘‘softer’’ regulatory models based on co-