While cities have been adept and keen on implementing city-wide programmes and initiatives for environmental management, satisfying the internal and voluntary obligations of ISO 14001 and EMSs have been more difficult to commit.
Some of the limitations that city government face include:
These limitations within city governments, of course, become targets for priority action - to be implemented either internally, or with the assistance and partnership of external agencies and organizations.
- For many developing cities 'environment' is simply not a priority - where poverty reduction, education and health, job-creation etc. take more immediate and higher priority.
- The benefits of acquiring ISO 14001 certification is not clearly understood, particularly its long-term and external benefits in influencing other urban stakeholders and development activities.
- City governments face several political and/or administrative barriers in effectively implementing the requirements and committment under ISO 14001.
- There are several restrictions within the urban planning and management systems currently in place, which may require legislative or other sanction before it can be modified.
- Requirements under ISO 14001, particularly in implementing the EMS, need financial committment in order to carry out the action - committment that city governments may be reluctant to make.
- Lack of appropriate and adequate knowledge and technologies that are needed to put in place an under the ISO 14001.
It is clear that prioritization of the environment at the local and city level has to be 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 has to be combined with dialogue and consultations in order to clearly outline the benefits of ISO aquisition to cities.
Better awareness-building and stream-lined decision making processes that involves all levels and sections of a city government should be implemented in order to overcome political and administrative barriers. Similarly, understanding the indirect and long-term benefits of implementing an EMS may help in removing or overcoming the restrictions in existing urban planning and management systems.
By sufficient prioritization and sanction at the top levels of decision-making, and its integration into existing day-to-day activities, financial constraints and limitations can be also eliminated. Extensive internal and external exchange of information, identification of best practices, wider participation, training and seminars, etc. will be necessary to remove the constraints of lack of knowledge and technologies to implement an EMS.