In Community-Driven Regulation Dara O’Rourke proposes a new policy model for pollution control, based on detailed case studies from rapidly industrializing Vietnam. He shows that environmental problems can be solved when affected community groups mobilize to pressure both state and industry and argues that this strategy, which he terms "community-driven regulation," used successfully in Vietnam, can achieve similar success in other countries.
Vietnam’s recent entry into the world economy has brought many benefits to its population—more jobs, higher income levels, more plentiful goods and services. But this very rapid growth of industry has also brought predictable environmental problems. Areas near industrial plants experience declining crop yields and polluted groundwater; residents downwind from factories suffer respiratory ailments. Vietnam thus serves as a model for nations dealing with environmental problems during the transition to an industrialized economy and global integration.
O’Rourke offers six detailed case studies, based on his own fieldwork in Vietnam, that show how strategies adopted by local communities achieved positive results despite a strong state bias toward development and the absence of existing advocacy groups, a free press, or politically vulnerable elected officials. The firms studied are both state-run and multinational; they include a Taiwanese textile factory, a state-owned fertilizer plant, and a Korean factory producing shoes for Nike. The communities affected range from traditional villages to urban neighborhoods. O’Rourke’s policy model of community-state synergy challenges traditional notions of state-centric environmental regulation and questions the growing literature that identifies market mechanisms as the best way to solve environmental problems in developing countries.
About the Author
Dara O’Rourke is Associate Professor of Environmental and Labor Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and cofounder and Chairman of GoodGuide, Inc., a database for safe, healthy, green, and ethical products based on scientific ratings. He is author of Community-Driven Regulation: Balancing Development and the Environment in Vietnam (MIT Press) and coauthor of Can We Put an End to Sweatshops?
"This book develops an innovative perspective on industrial environmental regulation, convincingly illustrated with strong empirical evidence. Like no one before him, O'Rourke succeeds in providing detailed insight into the often obscure processes of environmental policymaking in Vietnam and the key role communities play in moving this industrializing tiger economy toward sustainability."
—Arthur P. J. Mol, Professor and Chair of Environmental Policy and Sociology, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
"Dara O'Rourke brings a critically important new dimension to the discourse on sustainability: human agency expressed through community-driven environmental regulation. He offers a rich, detailed account of the Vietnamese people's struggle to sustain their communities against global industry. This book gives hope that continuing political renovation and the rise of civil society in Vietnam can more effectively meet the challenges of environmental management through community-state synergies."
—C. Michael Douglass, Director, Globalization Research Center and Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii
"O'Rourke shows that even in the context of a poor market-socialist country whose state places the highest priority on attracting foreign investment in manufacturing, community-driven regulation can be surprisingly effective in reducing pollution and other forms of environmental degradation. Another important conclusion of his study that is relevant to both North and South is the critical role that citizen access to information on pollution emission standards and on how local firms compare to others across the country plays in such regulation."
—Frederick H. Buttel, William H. Sewell Professor of Rural Sociology and Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin—Madison