An Overview of Issues with respect to Voluntary Environmental Agreements


The level of interest in and use of agreements between government and industry and between industry and NGOs or communities as a means of addressing environmental issues (voluntary environmental agreements, or VEAs) has increased dramatically in recent years.

This paper reviews the international experience with this category of instruments. Although there is considerable variety in the uses and designs of VEAs, this paper suggests that there are some important lessons with respect to their selection, design and implementation.

The paper’s main theme is that VEAs should be used only as one among many possible "tools" to promote environmental objectives, and that their selection and design should be guided by four main considerations: environmental effectiveness, impacts on corporate culture, cost and trust. The paper also describes contextual factors that appear to be particularly important in determining whether a VEA will be effective, reviews some of the possible legal issues related to VEAs, and identifies the features of VEAs that we believe are the most important in determining their effectiveness.

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John Moffet and François Bregha
Resource Futures International
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Ottawa, Ont., Canada K1N 7B7
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