International Regulatory Reform Conference
Welcome to the IRRC 2011!
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Welcome to the fourth International Regulatory Reform Conference! This time we will be convening in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which some consider the homeland of Better Regulation. What better place could there be to think ahead, to discuss the direction this whole movement should be taking?
As of 2011, I can’t help but sense a certain hunger for renewal within the community. Has it ever occurred to you to sometimes think that Better Regulation is a highly technocratic field which sometimes focuses more on instruments and techniques than on the political and societal context we operate in? To me, it has. And after following debates within the community for a couple of years, I have the impression that the Better Regulation agenda finds itself at a crossroads. The instruments and approaches established at its outset are now fairly well embedded, and its principles are widely considered state-of-the-art in modern governance. So where do we go from here?
Some fresh ideas therefore seem timely. And as ever so often, good ideas are simple ideas. That is why we have chosen a motto for this fourth IRRC that harkens back to ancient wisdom; indeed, the core thought could not be simpler: looking at the whole thing – the whole elephant – is necessary to keep an eye on the big picture. The allegory of “The Blind Men and The Elephant” may also serve to illustrate Better Regulation issues: In the last couple of years, so many debates have just focused on mere parts of the elephant’s body instead of focusing on problems, questions and ideas in a holistic manner: Why are we doing this?
The whole elephant, in our context, means to look to the left and right of our own field. It means thinking about our addressees and their needs, about the way we communicate regulation and its improvement. Looking at the whole elephant also means considering the strategic dimension of Better Regulation: politics does not follow the same rules and principles as regulatory tools do, and policymakers do not necessarily think about regulatory tools as public administrators and experts. Questions pertaining to the consultation of stakeholders and the public are also part of that equation. Not least, Better Regulation tools may also play a role in responding to pressing challenges such as climate change. Considering all this from a holistic perspective is therefore well worthwhile.
Since we believe that these matters are truly relevant, we set up a number of events in the run-up to the IRRC. You will find more information on these issues throughout this publication. And let me express my gratitude to all our partners in this endeavor: the OECD, the World Bank Group, the Government of the Republic of Korea, the Korea Legislation Research Institute, the Global Green Growth Institute, George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center and the Polish Ministry of the Economy. Needless to say, special thanks must also be extended to our Dutch partners and everybody involved in Amsterdam.
I hope you enjoy your time at the conference, meeting your colleagues and getting new insights. Last – but certainly not least – I wish you a pleasant stay in Amsterdam!