What Is Environmental Management;Principles And Policies

A more detailed definition of the concept of “environmental management” includes  a set of all forms of exploitation of natural resource potential and measures for its conservation, namely: a) extraction and processing of natural resources, their renewal or reproduction, b) use and protection of the natural conditions of the living environment, c) conservation (maintenance), the reproduction (restoration) and rational change of the ecological balance (equilibrium) of natural systems, which serves as the basis for the preservation of the natural-resource potential of the development of society.

What Is Environmental Management;Principles And Policies

Principles of Environmental Management Systems

Every Environmental Management System is based on 5 basic principles. Let’s see them:

  • First principle : It is quite simple. It focuses on knowing what needs to be done, verifying that there is a commitment of the entire company with the EMS and also defining an Environmental Policy.
  • Second principle : It consists of designing an Action plan so that the requirements established in the environmental policy and required by the standard can be met.
  • Third principle : Review what is required to meet the environmental objectives and goals in order to find the tools needed to continue with the environmental policy.
  • Fourth principle : this principle is of control, it consists in carrying out qualitative and quantitative evaluations periodically to check if everything that is being done is in accordance with the company’s environmental policy or not.
  • Fifth principle : check and try to improve environmental policy, goals, objectives and the measures that have been taken. That is, to seek the continuous improvement of the company’s environmental performance.

Environmental management covers a large number of areas, among which the following 7 differ:

  • Environmental policy
  • Land use planning
  • Environmental impact evaluation
  • Contamination
  • Wild life
  • Environmental education
  • Landscape

Environmental management can be applied from companies to societies, and its objectives are to reduce the impact of human activity on nature , respect and promote biodiversity, implement the environmental factor between the lines of competitiveness of companies and improve legislation and social conscience.

Obviously, pursuing these objectives has a cost in human and material resources that not all companies or governments are willing to assume, this being the main problem that environmental management faces.

Environmental management policies

The concept of environmental management is very broad and includes different fields on which to act. In this sense, environmental policies, public and / or private guidelines for major international, regional, national and local environmental issues come into play . Among the main ones are the following:

Land Planning

The distribution of land uses according to their characteristics.

Environmental Impact Evaluation

Set of actions that allow to establish the effects of plans, environmental management programs  and develop corrective , compensatory and protective measures of potential adverse effects.

Pollution Prevention And Control

Study, control, and treatment of the effects caused by the different elements and forms of energy in the environment.

Preservation Of Wildlife And Ecosystems

Study and conservation of living beings in their environment and their relationships, in order to conserve biodiversity .

Environmental Education

Change in the attitudes of man towards his biophysical environment, and towards a better understanding and solution of environmental problems .

Advantages of environmental management 

Correct environmental management , both in society in general with corporate social responsibility actions , has multiple benefits, including the following:

  1. Reduction of the environmental impact derived from the activity of man.
  2. Respect for biodiversity and ecosystems.
  3. Positive factor for improving the competitiveness of companies . The certification of having an environmental management system or policy in companies and institutions has a positive impact on the external image of companies. In addition, it is a favorable factor to consider in public tenders and more and more private companies demand it from their suppliers.
  4. Ensures compliance with environmental legislation in companies.
  5. Improves social awareness around these issues.

Difficulties of environmental management

  1. Material and human resources that must be dedicated to environmental management.
  2. Limitations derived from the need to have an expert in a field in which environmental , legislative, changing and different knowledge in each country are required, etc.
  3. Need for the entire organization’s commitment to environmental management to obtain good results.

For its part, Environmental Management Systems are instruments with great potential to protect the environment and act on the environmental impact generated by companies. 

What is ISO 14001

ISO 14001 is a standard belonging to the series of ISO 14000 standards , covering different aspects of the environment . The ISO 14001 was published in 1996 and is an international environmental management standard that defines how to establish a good Environmental Management System.

It is a voluntary standard, which is implemented or not according to the interests of each organization, and its main objective is to prevent pollution to support environmental conservation.

The benefits that companies receive for adopting ISO 14001 are diverse, including:

  • The improvement of the reputation of the company, to be able to announce with foundation that it participates in the conservation of the environment.
  • The cost savings that can lead to proper waste management, as well as proper use of resources and energy, which can make processes more expensive when they are not optimized.
  • In addition, at a legal level, a company that can certify that it meets the requirements of ISO 14001 can receive bonuses or avoid fines depending on the regulations of the country in which it is located.

Types of environmental management systems

There are several types of Environmental Management Systems , also called SGMA.

  • The Formal, as we have just seen, are those that follow ISO 14001
  • Other Standardized EMS may choose to follow the EMAS standard (Community Regulation of Eco-management and Eco-Audit). This is a regulation, also voluntary, established by the European Union and updated in 2009, to recognize companies or organizations that have established an EMS and a commitment to improvement. The main difference between EMAS and ISO 14001 is the international nature of the latter, while the former affects only the member countries of the European Union.
  • Finally, there are the informal EMS, which are those that are carried out through an environmental management course and internally, seeking to minimize waste production and energy consumption.

Jobs in environmental management

There are a large number of actions and measures that can be applied to a company’s environmental management plan , regardless of its size. Obviously, large companies have much more to save and improve before an appropriate environmental management plan, but small businesses have an equally important responsibility, and also some outstanding advantages to obtain.

Some examples of this are as follows:

  • Replacing old-fashioned light bulbs or bulbs with low-energy ones is very common, but we are not always aware of the great savings in electricity that can be assumed annually for a company. Sometimes more powerful lighting is used than is really necessary, which means a very high expense compared to the cost of updating it.
  • Minimizing the production of waste and waste is another factor that may seem superfluous, but it can be a big saving when it comes to having to dispose of this waste.
  • Respecting the regulations for selective collection is also very important, and it must be remembered that it is also a legal obligation.
  • Carrying out the correct management of these tasks can lead to great economic and legal problems, as well as being a benefit to the environment.

In addition, the works related to environmental management are all those that enter the aforementioned areas, which we remember here:

  • Environmental policy
  • Land use planning
  • Environmental impact evaluation
  • Contamination
  • Wild life
  • Environmental education
  • Landscape
by Abdullah Sam
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