Local authorities' approaches to standardised environmental management systems
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
The overall aim with this thesis is to create a broader understanding of how the EMS tool works in local authorities. This means to study whether EMS is a useful tool for managing the environmental impact from the local authorities' activities and by highlighting its strengths and weaknesses as a tool. EMS is a tool that is used on a voluntary basis that aims at improving organisations' environmental performance. There are several standards for designing EMSs; however, this thesis focuses on EMSs designed according to the principles of the international standard ISO 14001 and the EU regulation Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). The standards are based on a wide range of requirements. If these requirements are fulfilled, the organisation can choose to get its EMS certified by a third party. The EMS tool is frequently used in the private sector, and it is sometimes argued that it is designed for private (industrial) organisations. However, local authorities worldwide have shown an increased interest in EMSs since the mid 1990s. The EMS use in the private sector has been subject to some critique. For example, there is a risk that the tool is used only to get another certificate in order to increase their legitimacy, which means that there is a risk that the environmental issues are neglected. Until now, little academic research has been conducted concerning EMS use in local authorities. Therefore, it is interesting to study what approaches local authorities have to EMSs.
Mainly Swedish local authorities have been studied for this thesis. Many Swedish local authorities have been using EMSs for a fairly long time, which means that they have a certain amount of experience from this using tool. The local authorities' approaches to EMS use have been studied from several perspectives using postal surveys, interviews, and case study methodology. This means that the research has a strong empirical foundation.
The EMS use in Swedish local authorities is fairly common, since almost half of them are in the process of implementing EMSs in all or some of their departments. The main reason for implementing EMSs is to improve the structure of their environmental management. The local authorities often use ISO 14001 and/or EMAS as inspiration and design the EMSs according to their local conditions and ambitions, thus certification of the EMSs is seldom an aim. Although many local authorities seem to use EMSs in a reflective and sensible way, several barriers or difficulties - for example, maintaining continuity and ensuring follow-up of the environmental improvements - have been discovered. Furthermore, the EMSs that are being implemented often exclude environmental impact related to their exercise of authority since it is difficult and abstract. Including environmental impact related to these activities is often seen as a matter of maturity. To develop the organisations' EMSs, internal and external communication and interaction is experienced as very important. Such issues contribute to the EMS maturity processes, since the local authorities find new inspiration, knowledge, and motivation to further develop the EMS processes and, as a consequence, improve their environmental performance.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för konstruktions- och produktionsteknik , 2005.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 939
Environment, eco management and audit scheme, Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)
National CategoryEngineering and Technology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-5045ISBN: 91-85297-77-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-5045DiVA: diva2:21009
2005-05-19, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
List of papers