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Formation Process of Resource and Environmental Policy in its "Early Stage": The Beginning as a "Late-comer Public Policy"

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Formation Process of Resource and Environmental Policy in its "Early Stage": The Beginning as a "Late-comer Public Policy"


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March 2021



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About this book

About this book

Natural resource and environmental policies, which are "latecomer public policies," have been formed under a constraint that economic development policies and many other policies already exist. Therefore, natural resource and environmental policy is considered highly path-dependent in that the overall direction of the policy formation process is determined by factors affecting it in its early stage. This book focuses on the cases of China, Taiwan, Southeast Asian countries, Japan, and the United States and attempts to connect historical examination of policy formation processes to analysis of the current status of policies, taking into account domestic policy processes and interactions among countries' international efforts.



Introduction Resource and environment policy formation as "latecomer public policy": Cause-and-effect relationship in "early-stage" policy formation

Author:Tadayoshi Terao

Chapter 1 China's early-stage environmental diplomacy and international negotiations on global environmental issues: Formation process of the "common but differentiated responsibilities" principle

Author:Kenji Otsuka

Chapter 2 "Early-stage" implementation of water pollution control policy in Taiwan: The Taipei Area Water Pollution Improvement Plan (1973–1984)

Author:Tadayoshi Terao

Chapter 3 Environmental Authoritarianism in Asia: "Inversion" of Environmental Policies from the Perspective of Dependent Relations

Author:Jin Sato

Chapter 4 From duty of environmental consideration to the need to explore alternatives: Reassessing America’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Author:Hiroki Oikawa

Chapter 5 Emergence of Global Environmental Policy in Japan: Focusing on the 'Ad Hoc Group on Global Environmental Problems'

Author:Susumu Kitagawa



This book is a product of the group that conducted research entitled "The Formation Process of Resource and Environmental Policy in Its Early Stage" from FY2018 to FY2019 at the Institute of Developing Economies. The process of natural resource and environmental policy formation examined in this book was deeply related to public health policies, especially in its early stage. Today, the public policy field referred to as environmental policy encompasses various issues. Its policy formation process involves incorporating and integrating multiple, overlapping issues into the concept of "the environment," such as ambient air, water, waste, noise, and other pollution problems as well as issues related to protecting ecosystems and natural resources like forests, water resources, and energy sources. The definition of "the environment" as a domain of public policy has subsequently been expanding.

In considering pollution problems, which were important policy issues in the early stage of the policy formation process, policymakers initially focused on health hazards and expanded environmental hygiene measures that were part of disease prevention and control measures constituting public health policy. At the same time, policymakers considered that industrial pollution problems, which were directly linked with economic activities, should be dealt with by industrial development policies and tried to use relevant policy instruments. Pollution control became independent of public health policy as its importance increased, and started to be treated as a new policy field. Furthermore, pollution control, along with resource management and nature preservation, was integrated into a broader policy domain, that is, "the environment."

In sum, the starting point was the serious issue of health problems caused by industrial pollution. Policymakers' concerns then extended to improper use of natural resources, and the scope of policy broadened to include the environment which encompassed individuals' health, the entirety of people's living environment, and the economy. Furthermore, the scope of environment policy expanded spatially and temporally, encompassing the global environment transcending national borders and multigenerational, ultra-long-term, perennial resource use.

As described above, public health policy is the root of pollution control measures and is followed by natural resource and environmental policy, which includes pollution control. In other words, the policy domain expanded from public health, which involved measures to eliminate causes of people's health problems, to the environment. It is rare today to consider the relationship between natural resource and environmental policy and public health policy. While public health policies have a long history, natural resource and environmental policies are regarded as "latecomer public policies." There have not been sufficient explanations as to how natural resource and environmental policies initially became incorporated into existing public policies (e.g., public health policies and industrial policies), started to be implemented as part of them, and subsequently constituted an independent policy field.

As countries of the world respond to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), there is growing interest in the effects on public health policy of political systems and of differences between authoritarianism and democracy. Prevention of an infectious disease often requires strong government enforcement measures, and implementing it in a democratic system by gaining social consensus or widespread political support is certainly not easy. In fact, there are cases where infectious disease prevention was successful due to strict control by an authoritarian regime. Similar situations have been discussed in recent years in regard to natural resource and environmental policy. Many scholars have discussed authoritarian environmentalism, the subject of Chapter 3, as the government of People’s Republic of China has actively tackled issues related to climate change in recent years. This stands in contrast to the Trump administration's reluctance toward many environmental policies, including climate change policies, that was observed from 2017 to 2021 in the United States. Though similar discussions were actively conducted at the time of the oil crises in the 1970s, they subsided as leaders of authoritarian regimes at the time did not enthusiastically implement environmental policies. Taiwan's effort to control water pollution in the 1970s, which is discussed in Chapter 2, is one of a handful of cases that achieved a certain level of success in terms of the process of natural resource and environmental policy formation under an authoritarian regime. In actuality, however, one cannot necessarily say that authoritarian regimes are more likely than democratic systems to realize the implementation and success of highly coercive, interventionist policies, be they public health policies (e.g., infectious disease prevention) or natural resource and environmental policies. Researchers must examine the effects of different political systems on public policy formation by accumulating relevant case studies. It may be possible to identify the characteristics and common issues of public health policy and natural resource and environmental policy by comparing their formation processes in different countries.

Another issue that emerged due to the spread of COVID-19 is the way in which scientific knowledge and the relationship between science and society are reflected in political decision-making.This important issue, which was also raised in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear power plant accident, has reemerged without having been sufficiently discussed or shared in society. As discussed in the introductory chapter of this book, many of the important components of natural resource and environmental policy are not addressed as policy issues unless the link between cause and damage is recognized based on scientific knowledge. Also, there were numerous difficulties that hindered scientific knowledge from being utilized in policy formation, especially in its early stage. It seems increasingly important to conduct research on the early stage of the process of natural resource and environmental policy formation.

This book is based on the results obtained in a joint research project organized following the publication of three books: The Formation of Environmental Policies in the Process of Economic Development: From the Viewpoint of Development and the Environment (Terao, ed., research series No. 605) which was a product of joint research conducted from FY2010 to FY2011; Politics of the Environment: The Formation of "Late-comer" Public Policy (Terao, ed., research series No. 614) which was a product of joint research conducted in FY2012 and FY2013; Formation of Natural Resources and Environmental Policies: Institutions and Organizations in the "Early Stage" (Terao, ed., research series No. 638) which was a product of joint research conducted from FY2015 to FY2016. Ms. Tsuruyo Funatsu of the Interdisciplinary Studies Center at the Institute of Developing Economies, who contributed to the operation of these research groups and the compilation of research results (initially as a manager and subsequently as an observer), participated in the joint research group that produced this book and contributed to its operation. Mr. Ichiro Adachi of the JICA Ogata Research Institute gave a lecture to the research group as an outside lecturer and provided important suggestions. Also, I would like to wholeheartedly thank people who helped us in field studies and document collection; people who helped us in planning and operating the research group at the Institute of Developing Economies; people who provided us with useful comments during the process of peer review and evaluation of research results; and people at the editing and publication division who provided us with important advice during the process of editing and proofreading.

Early spring 2021