• 33/50;
  • Accelerated Reductioni Elimination of Toxics (ARET);
  • covenants;
  • cooperative approaches;
  • policy instruments;
  • voluntary agreements


In recent years, governments throughout the world have expressed growing interest in cooperative approaches to environmental protection, including negotiated rulemaking, flexible approaches t o enforcement, and voluntary codes and agreements. It is often argued that cooperative approaches are more cost effective, more conducive t o innovation, and better able t o promote fundamental attitudinal change than traditional “command and control” regulation. However, the overly broad term “cooperative approaches” fails t o acknowledge fundamental differences among these novel po I icies, including distinct ions between mandatory and voluntary programs and between those that involve bipartite negotiations between government and business and those that invite participation by a broader range of interests. This article analyzes these cooperative approaches first by offering a framework to distinguish among various cooperative policy instruments. Second, the article critically examines theoretical arguments and empirical evidence concerning one class o f cooperative approaches, voluntary challenges and agreements. The most striking finding is how little we know about the effectiveness of voluntary approaches. This is a function not only of the quite recent experience with these approaches, but also of more fundamental inattention t o program evaluation and obstacles to evaluation inherent in voluntary programs. The article concludes with a call for a more rigorous program of research to examine the effectiveness of the new policy instruments and t o compare them with traditional regulation and market-based incentives.