Washington International Law Journal


Beth E. Kinne


Rapid industrialization in Taiwan in the latter half of the twentieth century resulted in dramatic increases in industrial pollution and municipal waste, leaving few places on the small island spared from severe pollution. Public pollution protests in the 1970s and 1980s both contributed to and increased with the liberalization of Taiwanese society. With the end of martial law in 1987 and subsequent creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, Taiwan adopted a command and control regulatory scheme that achieved limited success. From the 1980s onward, the Taiwanese government came to rely upon the participation of a greater number and variety of stakeholders in the pollution regulation process; a trend made necessary by the economic realities of environmental regulation in an economy dominated by small and medium sized enterprises. As a result, Taiwan's environmental regulatory regime is characterized by shared responsibility for environmental regulation across government sectors, between central and local governments, and between the public and private sectors. Diversification of regulation, supplemented with moderate government intervention, will be most likely to increase effectiveness of pollution regulation. The benefits of this approach include potential reductions in the cost of regulation and compliance, increased data collection and distribution, and cultivation of more collaborative relationships among industry, regulators, and the public. In contrast, the greater number and variety of stakeholders participating in environmental regulation introduces potential conflicts of interest, resulting in new inefficiencies, and requiring continued government interference in the role of auditor and coordinator. Nevertheless, the Taiwanese have embraced democracy and the involvement of a diverse array of interest organizations. This, coupled with the expense of pollution regulation, leads to the conclusion that Taiwan's practice of distributing responsibilities for pollution regulation across multiple stakeholders will be the norm for the foreseeable future.

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