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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|6452||2002||6 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 5, Issue 6, December 2002, Pages 443–448
Environmental issues have become increasingly important in Swedish local authorities during the last decade. This has been shown as almost half of the local authorities are implementing environmental management systems (EMSs) in their organisations as a voluntary commitment to improve their environmental efforts. In the autumn 2000, a national postal survey to learn more about EMS implementation in Swedish local authorities was carried out. The purpose of this paper is to examine the reasons behind Swedish local authorities’ EMS implementation, what the local authorities expect EMS implementation to bring to their organisations, what environmentally related outcomes they have observed, and how the EMS work is co-ordinated. Although Swedish local authorities often have ambitious plans for EMS implementation, few resources are allocated for this purpose, which means, in fact, that EMS implementation is not a high priority. Our study showed that the chief reason for implementing EMSs was of organisational origin (such as bringing order to the environmental efforts), although EMS implementation is often viewed as an environmental project. This paper also discusses the problems surrounding the fact that EMSs are viewed as projects and not as continuous processes that are integrated into the organisation.
Since the United Nations’ conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, local authorities in Sweden have shown an increased interest in voluntary environmental commitments in order to decrease the negative environmental impacts caused by their organisations and activities, and to further the process of sustainable development (Brundin and Eckerberg, 1999). A considerable number of tools, all with more or less different approaches, are available for the purpose of making the organisations more environmentally proactive and efficient. These tools can provide the organisations with information about the environmental situation, help improving the structure of environmental work and support the environmental decision-making process. Substance flow analysis, strategic environmental assessments, environmental impact assessment, life cycle assessment, and standardised environmental management systems (EMSs) are just a few of the tools available for these purposes. These tools may improve the work directed at sustainable development, as they elucidate various aspects of the environmental perspective. However, it is important to remember that none of them represents a universal solution, thus other strategies, tools and methods that include political, social and economic components should be used as well to fully address sustainability (Steger, 2000). This paper focuses on one of the above mentioned tools: EMSs. There are different types of environmental management systems, and standardised EMSs are designed according to the principles of the international standard ISO 14001, the EC regulation eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) or any that are similar to them. The main purpose of this type of EMS is to organise environmental work in such a way that an organisation’s environmental performance improves on a continual basis. To achieve this goal, the organisation maps its environmental impact and identifies the significant environmental aspects of its organisation in an environmental review (ISO, 1996). Consequently, the organisation formulates a policy regarding its environmental ambitions. The environmental policy is the central document in an EMS because it sets the organisation’s ambitions and reflects its overall principles in the environmental work. The policy, which has to be publicly available, should provide a framework for the environmental improvement process and should include commitments to comply with relevant environmental legislation, commitment to continual improvements, and it should be a basis for setting targets and objectives. Environmental targets and objectives are set along with programmes to enhance that they are fulfilled. The EMS process also involves training staff and establishing routines and procedures designed to increase the chances for success in attaining environmental targets and objectives. During the audit, an important step in the EMS process where the EMS is evaluated, the appropriateness of the targets and objectives are examined and set in relation to the organisation, along with the established environmental procedures. Often, organisations ask an independent auditor to conduct an environmental audit. When following the standard ISO 14001 or the EC regulation EMAS, the organisations can choose a validation by a third party to certify and/or verify their EMSs. When implementing EMSs, the organisation must change or adapt to this new scheme in order to integrate environmental issues and thinking into daily work. Furthermore, co-operation, even distribution of power and an open decision-making process that includes many stakeholders, should be part of integrated environmental management (Born and Sonzogni, 1995). Without support from the management, including political decision-making and support from politicians, it is very difficult to integrate environmental issues into an organisation (Bührs, 1991). Implementation of EMSs in the organisations of Swedish local authorities is fairly common, although certification or registration by a third party is not a universal goal (Emilsson and Hjelm, 2002). Studies from different countries indicate that departments within the technical sector in the local authorities are the most typical for EMS implementation (Emilsson and Hjelm, 2002, Cockrean, 2001, Bekkering and McCallum, 1999 and Honkasalo, 1999). In addition, there are indications that EMSs similar to ISO 14001 or EMAS are better suited for these kinds of departments, as they often resemble industrial organisations (Emilsson and Hjelm, 2002 and Darnall et al., 2000). EMS implementation in Swedish local authorities is a current issue, evident from the fact that almost half of the local authorities have undertaken this type of proactive environmental work (Emilsson and Hjelm, 2002), although there is little general academic knowledge of this phenomenon regarding Swedish conditions. The purpose of this paper is therefore to increase understanding of the use of EMSs in Swedish local authorities by providing a description and basic overview of EMS endeavours that have been made there. The paper outlines the main reasons for EMS implementation. Other important issues studied are environmental related expectations and noted outcomes from EMS implementation, and how the EMSs work is co-ordinated. Together, these issues provide a knowledge baseline of current EMS activities in Swedish local authorities which is important and valuable for further and deeper studies in the area. This is the second paper based on a postal survey of Swedish local authorities in the autumn of 2000. The overall aim of the survey was to acquire general comprehension and knowledge of EMS implementation in Swedish local authorities. The questionnaire included both quantitative and qualitative questions. The quantitative questions dealt mainly with the widespread use of EMSs in Swedish local authorities, what standards, if any, are used, and whether certification and/or registration is a goal. These questions are analysed elsewhere (see Emilsson and Hjelm, 2002).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
A common problem in local authorities is a scarcity of resources such as personnel, money, and time (Margerum, 2001). This is also the case for Swedish local authorities, which means that the resources put aside for environmental management are limited. Consequently, Swedish local authorities are interested in implementing EMSs in their organisations (which is shown by the results in the survey), but they find it difficult to setting aside more resources for this purpose. In other words, although Swedish local authorities appear to have good intentions when it comes to implementing EMSs, it is not a priority issue. One possible explanation for this dichotomy could be that EMS implementation is seen solely as an environmental project, that is, as primarily an issue for environmental departments or the people with environmental expertise. Perhaps this scenario indicates that, as a tool, EMSs are not completely compatible with the organisations of the local authorities as they are designed today. On the other hand, standardised EMSs might be useful tools to use in order to improve organisation’s environmental performance, although it is possible that standards are used in an inappropriate way in local authorities. This could in turn make it difficult to find support and resources (and thus make it an prioritised issue) for its use in the organisations of local authorities. In the first place, EMS work according to the standards ISO 14001 and EMAS should not be considered as projects as these are management tools that stress that integration and continuity are important issues in the process (ISO, 1996 and EC, 2001). When there is some type of undertaking that does not fit into an existing organisation, it is common practice to establish projects so the work will get done (Bergström and Dobers, 2000). This theory could perhaps explain why local authorities consider EMSs as projects—they do not see how EMSs fit into their organisations. The project-approach brings about the risk that it could be difficult to integrate the new strategic approach of environmental management into an organisation because it is considered as something that is time-limited. Therefore, management plays a key role in the EMS process by ensuring its development and durability. Along with support and encouragement from the management, it is important to designate responsibilities and to document carefully the strategy for EMS implementation and the actions taken in order to ensure the future existence and development of the EMS process. Similar experiences in the United Kingdom indicate that EMS implementation run as projects has not changed organisational culture, and thus, it is has been difficult to incorporate EMS work into daily activities (Riglar, 1997). If EMS work is run as projects, how is continuity achieved and how are on-going improvements measured? In addition, when personnel are employed specifically for this project, there is a risk that their knowledge and ideas will disappear when they leave their employment and the organisation. Local authorities are complex organisations that often reorganise, which means that personnel are moved from one place in the organisation to another. Thus, in order to maintain continuity in environmental work, the knowledge has to stay within the organisation and not just with individuals (Margerum, 2001). Hence, documentation and knowledge sharing are crucial. It is interesting to note from our survey that decreasing the negative environmental impact is given less priority than organisational changes as reasons for EMS implementation. Nevertheless, this finding may indicate that many Swedish local authorities already have fairly ambitious environmental goals and are fairly aware of the environmental situation, but their organisations yet do not have the tools or strategies to realise these goals. Therefore, they might use EMSs to facilitate this procedure. Furthermore, this main reason for EMS implementation could be strategic: if the local authorities obtain a more effective and structured organisation, it should enhance environmental improvements because there is more knowledge and control of strategies and actions within the organisation. Hence, environmental improvements are the indirect effects of organisational change and restructuring. Implementing EMSs is a voluntary commitment. By signing on to this effort, local authorities show a willingness to improve the environmental situation. No local authorities reported negative results from EMS implementation, which is fairly interesting. One possible explanation for this finding is that the local authorities have a great deal of confidence in EMSs, and that they really want it to work. In addition, since some local authorities have been successful in this work, others may not want to admit failure. Of course, EMSs can bring many positive outcomes in the organisation of local authorities, such as increased knowledge and awareness of environmental issues and a better and more effective structure for environmental work. These effects have also been noted in companies (Steger, 2000). However, this study includes four local authorities that are in the certification and/or registration phase in the EMS process and that still have not observed any outcomes from EMS implementation. This could be due to that these local authorities want to stress that EMS implementation has not brought about any notable changes. This could be a further indication on that EMSs are not well suited to all types of departments within the local authorities or that the standards are misinterpreted or used in an inappropriate way. Several obstacles are inherent to EMS implementation. For example, there is the risk that EMSs may become add-on projects in the organisation and not an incorporated continuous process. Implementing EMSs according to official standards (such as EMAS and ISO 14001) could be a way, if limited as yet, to ensure that an organisation is in compliance with legislation and to expose an organisation’s environmental impacts (Aall, 1999). Furthermore, the issue of transparency can be questioned when it comes to ISO 14001, as the environmental policy is the only document that has to be publicly available according to the standard (see ISO, 1996). An organisation with ISO 14001 certificate or an EMS according to the criteria in ISO 14001 may be considered as an environmental champion, but in fact an EMS or certificate does not automatically mean that the organisation has a prominent way of managing environmental issues. The only thing that can be established is in fact that it complies with current environmental legislation and that it works towards continual improvements. The problem of transparency is less evident when designing an EMS according to the criteria in the EMAS regulation, as it requires that the progress is made public in an annual environmental statement and as it stresses the importance of co-operation and integration of the stakeholders in the EMS work. In Sweden, however, EMAS is used only by a minority of Swedish EMS implementing local authorities (Emilsson and Hjelm, 2002). There is a need for continued study as to whether EMS is an applicable tool for local authorities at all, although Riglar (1997) argues that there are indications that EMS “… is essential if a council is to respond fully to sustainability …”. Further, Swift and Broady (1998) imply that EMSs, according to ISO 14001, could be used as a framework for all kinds of organisations, both in the private and public sectors. However, we want to stress that, from a Swedish perspective, there is no clear evidence today regarding the actual usefulness of EMSs in local authorities, we believe that this issue must be studied further and in greater depth. Successful EMS implementation in local authorities should largely depend on the efforts of top management and the organisational atmosphere.