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Institutional barriers to effective environmental policy in a newly industrialized country : a case study of water pollution policy in Taiwan Kinne, Beth Ellen

Abstract

Environmental policy is increasingly important to economic and social stability and ecosystem and human welfare worldwide. Rapid changes in technology, industrial processes and social consumption patterns effect changes in the nature of pollution, adding to the difficulty of designing appropriate policies. Environmental institutions in developing and newly industrialized countries like Taiwan are often young and ill-equipped to promote innovative development and implementation of effective environmental policy. The role of industry-regulator dialogue, independence of the regulatory body from industry interests, information access, and the degree of public involvement in the environmental policy process all effect a country's potential to develop effective environmental policy. In this research I used water pollution policy as a starting point to examine the current institutional framework supporting environmental policy in Taiwan with the goal of determining which factors inhibit innovation which factors might allow for positive change in environmental policy. In addition, Hsinchu County, Hsinchu City and the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (HSIP) were chosen as the focus of study in an attempt to evaluate the ability of Taiwan's current environmental policy regime to cope with the growing threat of high-tech pollution. Research was carried out through personal interviews in Taiwan with HSIP industry representatives, Environmental Protection Administration representatives, academic researchers, environmental reporters, environmental consultant firms and environmental NGOs. The interviews were supplemented with collected reports on water pollution and industrial pollution research in Taiwan. Analysis of the data led to the conclusion that institutional weaknesses that reduce the independence of the regulatory body from industry, hinder information flow between researchers, industry and government, and prevent participation of the public in the environmental policy process impede development of innovative environmental policy in Taiwan. However, Taiwan has many strengths that are beginning to show promise in promoting the development of an institutional environment conducive to innovative design and application of water pollution policy and environmental policy in general.

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