Voluntary Programs for Low-Carbon Building and City Transformations

This research project investigates an emerging trend of governance arrangements that aim to improve their participants’ environmental performance without the traditional force of law. It examines the conditions for the successful implementation of such arrangements and questions how they relate to and interact with existing environmental legislation.

Examples of such voluntary programs are green building certification and classification tools, forest management schemes, and packaging waste agreements. Voluntary programs are considered promising alternatives or compliments to existing environmental legislation. However, current theorizing falls short to sufficiently explain what forms of voluntary programs may be successful in what contextual settings.

The research project will generate empirical advances and theoretical innovation through the comparative study of various examples of voluntary programs in different countries and different policy areas. This will provide an improved knowledge base for the development of informed and effective forms of voluntary programs to supplement existing urban regulation and governance.

The research project is based within the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University, and the Amsterdam Law School at the University of Amsterdam. It is funded through a four year VENI Fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (grant number 45111015).