Urban Environmental Management
Cities, EMS and Everything
Putting up a Green Front
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Questions to ask and answer before implementing an EMS

1. Why do we want to do an EMS project?

Clear goals are important to the success of an EMS project. The goals should be revisited throughout the project to ensure the project is on track and if necessary, revised as the project progresses.

  • Administrative Goals: Is there an administrative driver for the project such as impending budget cuts or need to set priorities for agreements? Is there a political need to do an EMS project such as a new mayor establishing a new direction?
  • Programmatic Goals: Is the agency at a point in its evolution where it needs new ideas, new directions, or confirmation of the old?
  • Organizational Goals: Does the agency need more credibility with its constituents such as the general public, the legislature, other agencies? Will increased contact and cooperation with other branches or agencies of government improve environmental management in the state?
  • Process Goals: Does the agency need to build new or better relationships with the public, the legislature, other agencies?
  • Behavioral Goals: Does the agency want to encourage a change in the public's behavior through increased involvement and education?

2. How will the EMS project be structured?

The lead agency will usually support the key project staff consisting of at least one full-time project director. Many projects have small policy advisory boards to give guidance to the director. In addition, volunteers are recruited to serve on technical committees such as human health, ecological, and quality of life, and on public advisory committees. The exact structure of the project will depend upon the goals of the project.

3. What is the desired outcome?

All EMS projects need to produce a technical analysis and a ranking of environmental issues. Although the analysis and the ranking are needed, they should not be the final outcome of a project. The results have been used to change environmental management in the state or local area through new legislation, inputs to the budget process, new planning structures; strategic planning; education; team building, and motivated individuals.

4. Who are the key audiences for our project?

Reaching the public at large may be too time consuming and resource intensive to complete well. Project managers should identify subsets of the public such as groups interested in the topic; groups who will be angry if not asked to participate; groups that are affected or perceive that they are affected by environmental management changes; groups that have useful ideas; and groups that will assist with change. By targeting the program and messages to key audiences, the overall effectiveness of the project will increase.

5. What are the public participation plans?

Defining the goals of the public participation plan should be the first step in the process. A part of defining goals is identifying key audiences and deciding how to interact with them. Communication should be consistent, even-handed, and interesting. An important component of a public participation plan is deciding how to get and what to do with input from the public. Will their views be integrated into the project? Will the efforts of the public be worthwhile for everyone? Implementation of the public participation plan need to be assigned to key agency staff to ensure completion.

6. What are the barriers to a successful EMS project? How can we plan for success?

EMS projects usually have high visibility. Conflicts can arise in many parts of the projects from strong differences on technical issues, to controversies during election season, to attacks from the media. Although all future problems cannot be anticipated, seeing where conflicts are possible will benefit the project overall.

7. Do we have the resources to do an excellent project?

Most agencies contribute cash or in-kind contributions such as staff time and office space. By integrating EMS actions into existing activities and campaigns (such as human health, sustainable consumption etc.) costs can be spread and absorbed into such activities. Some seed money to kick-start the project may be needed, but many of the actions itself can be absorbed into existing activities and projects.

8. Are we on the right course toward success?

Evaluation of activities should occur throughout the project while a mid-course corrections are possible. This evaluation process can indeed be an integral part of the EMS process itself. The simplest tool is to ask participants if the project is doing well and what should be changed. Other approaches include using written evaluations; pre-testing materials prior to broad distribution; checking in with original project goals; and documenting project successes and failures.

Source: Adopted from text by Katherine A. Kramer, WCED


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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org