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About UNEP
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United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
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Information on completed IETC Project (2000-2004) for archival purposes only. For current on-going projects, please see http://www.unep.or.jp/

 

Environmental Management Systems for Cities

Behind the growing interest of local authorities for Urban Environmental Management (UEM) there are various factors:

1) Pressure from citizens: local authorities are facing an increasing demand for environmental quality from their citizens; cities (and their officials and representatives) are held accountable for their environmental performance just as and in some cases even more than companies
   
2) International and national political pressure: local authorities are directly or indirectly in charge of the implementation, of national or international agreements and laws on sustainable development
   
3) Complexity of environmental challenges: end-of pipe solutions in selected sectors of city management are no longer enough. Sustainable development requires the systematic integration of economic, social and environmental considerations in all aspects of urban management
   
4) Rapid population and urban growth: creates increasing demand for houses, offices, shops, factories and roads and in general for services allowing an improved urban quality of life.
   

An Environmental Management System (EMS) provides a systematic way to ensure environmental issues are managed consistently and systematically throughout an organization. For cities and local authorities, an EMS can assist in comprehensively addressing environmental issues, while achieving increased credibility with key stakeholders, including regulatory agencies and citizens. Effectively applied, an EMS can help integrate environmental considerations with overall operations. It sets out environmental policies, objectives and targets with pre-determined indicators that provide measurable goals, and a means of determining if the performance level has been reached.

An EMS is an excellent mechanism for both understanding and promoting positive change within a city or local authority. This is because EMS focuses attention upon a number of critical organizational factors, including productive processes and technologies, management styles and systems, worker education and participation, internal communications, and relations with regulatory agencies, other governments, and neighbouring communities. The process of establishing an EMS requires "buy-in" from different levels of management and from employees. The successful implementation of an EMS creates positive change, environmental awareness and continuous improvement.

EMS applied to local authorities provides a systematic approach to develop policies, practices and procedures that are able to respond to the social, economic and environmental challenges ahead. In order to accomplish their goals for implementing an EMS efficiently, accurately and effectively, organizations need tools to assist them. In particular, experts and city managers recognize and highlight a lack of education and training tools specifically designed to enable local authorities assess the benefits, design and implement an EMS that meets their specific needs.

In response to this, UNEP-IETC launched the UNEP/FIDIC/ICLEI Urban Environmental Management: Environmental Management Training Resource Kit. The kit offers local authorities a systematic approach to integrate environmental considerations into all aspects of their activities. The Kit is the first of a range of tools and related supporting material to support local authorities in understanding the need for a systematic approach to environmental challenges, to adapt the EMS framework to the specific needs of a local administration and to provide the knowledge and the practical tools to implement an EMS at local level.

The Kit provides users with maximum flexibility in implementing their EMS strategies, allowing them to meet their specific organisational reporting needs. The Kit consists in a modular "train the trainer" kit which, through an EMS, will provide a series of tools to integrate sustainable development (from day to day and more international commitments such as Local Agenda 21, Climate Change Convention and other international agreements) into the various aspects and priorities of city management.

The kit is tailored to the effective needs of local authorities and at the same time is adaptable to various cultural and political situations. The Kit is targeted at change agents such as people who will disseminate the concept/practice of an EMS for local authorities, trainers who will implement the Kit by organising workshops and primarily city managers who will use it as a self-teaching tool to implement an EMS in their municipality.

The Kit contains thematic modules (water, transportation, tourism etc.) including fact sheets, case studies, information material and exercises for the implementation of an environmental management system in local authorities, a method for training, organising workshop (distribution) and their follow-up (feedback) and tools for the dissemination of the concept of EMS for local authorities.

Needs:

  • Organizations, in particular local authorities of cities and towns need a sound understanding of the environmental effects and impacts of the lifestyles, behaviours and values of its citizens
  • Need to understand that the environment has strategic implications which must be addressed by all stakeholders - at the global and local levels
  • Need for decision-making tools and decision support systems that enable implementation of EMSs

Objectives:

  • raise awareness of the key environmental issues concerning urbanisation and in particular the opportunities for better environmental management of cities and urban areas.
  • bring decision-makers together to encourage co-operation
  • develop easy to use environmental management tools that can be used to implement coordinated environmental policies and programmes involveing all concerned stakeholders

Results:

  • prioritization of the environment at the local and city level, emphasized by highlighting its long-term benefits, and the global effects of local action
  • greater and broader dissemination of information and documentation of existing city level ISO activities, combined with dialogue and consultations to clearly outline the benefits of ISO acquisition to cities.
  • better awareness-building and stream-lined decision making processes that involves all levels and sections of a city government, implemented in order to overcome political and administrative barriers.
  • understanding the indirect and long-term benefits of implementing an EMS, removing or overcoming the restrictions in existing urban planning and management systems.
  • prioritization and sanction at the top levels of decision-making, and its integration into existing day-to-day activities, eliminating or reducing financial constraints and limitations
  • extensive internal and external exchange of information, identification of best practices, wider participation, training and seminars, etc. that will remove the constraints of lack of knowledge and technologies to implement an EMS.

Outputs

The key output from the project is a Multi-module EMS Resource Training Kit for local authorities. The Kit provides a series of tools to integrate sustainable development (from day to day and more international commitments such as Local Agenda 21, Climate Change Convention and other international agreements) into the various aspects and priorities of city management. The EMS adopted by the Kit is be based upon ISO 14001 requirements. The Kit is targeted at the change agents such as people who will disseminate the concept/practice of an EMS for local authorities, trainers who will implement the Kit by organising workshops, and city managers who will use it as a self-teaching tool to implement an EMS in their municipality

The Kit contains thematic modules (water, transportation, tourism etc.) including fact sheets, case studies, information material and exercises for the implementation of an environmental management system in local authorities, and methodologies for training, organising workshop (distribution) and their follow-up (feedback), as well as tools for the dissemination of the concept of EMS for local authorities.

A number of additional tools related to and supporting EMS are also to be developed as a part of this project, including:

DIRECT SUPPORT TOOLS

  • Environmental Performance Evaluation for Cities (EPEC)
  • Environmental Performance Indicators for Cities (EPIC)

INDIRECT SUPPORT TOOLS

  • Environmentally Sound Technologies (EST)
  • Environmental Verification of Technology (EVT)
  • Environmental Technology Verification (ETV)
  • Air, waste, water management tools

Additional training modules on green procurement, environmental auditing, etc. are also to be produced. Activities that will add value to the EMS kit include:

  • Ongoing support via an electronic networking tool;
  • Feedback from users and contributing partners to be used to update the Kit
  • Promote the creation of regional information hubs and international network
  • Sharing best practises
  • Creation of a problem solving platform
  • Provide access to related platforms/websites/tools
  • Development of environmental information portal - "EMERALD"

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