Urban Environmental Management
EMS for Cities
Putting up a Green Front
| Policy | Planning | Implementation | Checking | Review |

ISO Certification: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • Top management commitment
  • Commitment to prevention of pollution
  • Commitment to continual improvement
The most important starting point for an EMS* is the development of an environmental policy. ISO14001 requires local governments to implement their own environmental policy. The environmental policy acts as a basis for the environmental management system.

The policy outlines the key environmental issues that the EMS will tackle. The policy must be relevant to activities, products and services, and must show commitment to continual improvement, prevention of pollution, and compliance with laws. It must also be well documented and implemented.

When developing the EMS Policy, one of the first steps is for top management to define the actual policy, make a strong commitment to continual improvement, commit to comply with relevant laws and regulations, and develop a framework for setting and reviewing environmental goals.

The objective of an Environmental Policy is to provide a framework for action. However, it needs to be specific enough to enable the setting of environmental targets and goals. In terms of setting environmental targets, it depends on the organization and its activities. If large amounts of air pollutants are being discharged, then a specific statement in the Environmental Policy is needed to address that fact. In this case, an Environmental Policy could include a general objective to reduce air pollution by 5% a year over the next 5 years. This way, a framework is set - but specific enough to promote action.

It is critical that the environmental policy is communicated to all members of the organization, and also made available to the general public. An Environmental Policy needs to provide a framework for action, but be specific enough to enable target setting. It provides the foundation for all future action, and needs top management commitment and implementation. Performing a gap analysis and developing guidelines for implementation will help in operationalizing the environmental policy.

* The Environmental Management System - or EMS - is the vehicle by which ISO14001 requirements are systemized and incorporated into an organization's everyday management, be it a private company or a local government.

The 'organization' can be

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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org