Environmental management

Environmental management

Environmental Management is not, as the phrase could suggest, the management of the environment as such, but rather the management of interaction by the modern human societies with, and impact upon the environment. The three main issues that affect managers are those involving politics (networking), programs (projects), and resources (i.e. money, facilities, etc). The need for environmental management can be viewed from a variety of perspectives. A more common philosophy and impetus behind environmental management is the concept of carrying capacity. Simply put, carrying capacity refers to the maximum number of organisms a particular resource can sustain. The concept of carrying capacity, whilst understood by many cultures over history, has its roots in Malthusian theory. Environmental management is therefore not the conservation of the environment solely for the environment's sake, but rather the conservation of the environment for humankind's sake. This element of sustainable exploitation, getting the most out of natural assets, is visible in the EU Water Framework Directive.

Environmental management involves the management of all components of the bio-physical environment, both living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic). This is due to the interconnected and network of relationships amongst all living species and their habitats. The environment also involves the relationships of the human environment, such as the social, cultural and economic environment with the bio-physical environment.

As with all management functions, effective management tools, standards and systems are required. An 'environmental management standard or system or protocol attempts to reduce environmental impact as measured by some objective criteria. The ISO 14001 standard is the most widely used standard for environmental risk management and is closely aligned to the European Eco Management & Audit Scheme (EMAS). As a common auditing standard, the ISO 19011 standard explains how to combine this with quality management. The UK has developed a phased standard (BS8555) that can help smaller companies move to ISO 14001 in six manageable steps.

Other environmental management systems tend to be based on this standard and to extend it in various ways:

Other strategies exist that rely on making simple distinctions rather than building top-down management "systems" using performance audits and full cost accounting. For instance, Ecological Intelligent Design divides products into consumables, service products or durables and unsaleables - toxic products that no one should buy, or in many cases, do not realize they are buying. By eliminating the unsaleables from the comprehensive outcome of any purchase, better environmental management is achieved without "systems".

Recommended reading

External links

business.gov provides businesses with environmental management tips, as well as tips for green business owners here

See also

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