Urban Environmental Management
Cities, EMS and Everything
Putting up a Green Front
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Continual Learning in EMS Development and Implementation

An Environmental Management Systems (EMS) ensures that environmental issues are properly addressed at all times - it put the environment on the agenda in all parts of the decision making process of an organization. It also deals with defining roles and responsibilities - "who does what by when".

The most common framework used in the development of an EMS is plan-do-check-act, with the goal of continual improvement, and learning, flexibility, and collaboration. The EMS also provides order, consistency and transparency when using other environmental management tools, as it gather them under its "umbrella".

Key to ensuring the success of an EMS is continual improvement. Continual improvement is ensured by multiple checking mechanisms, feedback loops that correct and improve the system. The multiple feedback system might seem like duplication or redundant, but when one system fails the other system fulfils the functions.

  • Performance monitoring against targets, objectives.
  • Internal and external communication.
  • Monitoring system for both performance and efficiency.
  • Incident detection system.
  • Continual measurement of performance against legal requirements.
  • Internal and external audits.
  • Management review.
Continual learning, especially in the context of local governments, is fostered by supporting research and public dialogue on EMSs that help improve public understanding of circumstances where EMSs can advance the city's environmental policy goals. It is also benefited by the collection of better information on the application of EMSs, including how well EMSs meet environmental performance expectations; and the costs and benefits to organizations and the environment.

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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org