ISO 14001 sign on treetrunk

Although the formal purpose of an Environmental Management System (EMS) is to reduce the ecological footprint of an organization, its main purpose is to add business value. A proactive EMS should be able to deliver the most cost effective solutions for meeting environmental quality standards, legislative requirements and stakeholder expectations.

Reducing environmental impact is not an effective issue management strategy on its own. Environmental issues have both a scientific and an ethical dimension and attempts to manage issues dispassionately will not be very successful. Another reason for EMS failure is that organisations tend to follow a top-down approach by developing their environmental policies first, followed by the management procedures as suggested by the individual clauses of the standard. Some ISO14001 accredited management systems indeed fail to deliver and are only maintained for the sake of accreditation.

The approach described here builds an EMS from the bottom up; starting with identifying what is feasible and completing with a matching policy. The approach has the following advantages:

  • Save money; by identifying cost-effective solutions, by less need for procedures and administrative support.
  • More effective; by giving proper attention to the subjective aspects, the management of the issues becomes more aligned, more focussed and more intuitive.
  • Better relationship with external parties; by being responsive to external concerns and delivering on promises made.
  • Better internal relations; by aligning EMS with business needs, by effective workforce involvement and by reduced need for procedures.

Implementation of a proactive EMS requires two steps.

  • Identification of management strategies, and
  • Integration of management strategies.

The identification of management strategies is the most involved and is described in detail on this webpage. The results of the issue characterisation can be documented on a company intranet or in a small number of life documents.

This EMS approach does not require any further specific documents or procedures. The findings from the identification of management strategies feed into existing operational procedures and general management system documentation.

Copyright Jos Tissen 2008 – All rights reserved.

Paul Hawken

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.

Case studies featuring proactive EMS

Organizations depicted in intersecting cogsJos Tissen

A new future for managing environmental issues

The method described in this publication is a novel and more effective approach for the management of environmental issues; one that recognizes and pro-actively manages external expectations as well as addressing the environmental impact. The approach was refined in cooperation with Ian Buchan from ENGIE E&P UK Limited.
HSE meeting

Identification of Environmental Management Strategies

An effective environmental management system is built around effective environmental management strategies; i.e. ones that are capable of dealing with the technical and emotional nature of environmental issues, the often conflicting interests and that offer constructive ways of managing these issues.
ISO 14001 sign on treetrunkJos Tissen

Proactive EMS

Although the formal purpose of an Environmental Management System (EMS) is to reduce the ecological footprint of an organization, its main purpose is to add business value. A proactive EMS should be able to deliver the most cost effective solutions for meeting environmental quality standards, legislative requirements and stakeholder expectations.