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Environmental business

Book>> .................Environmental Business........

Published: Monday 15 May 2000

-- (Credit: ILLUSTRATIONS: AKHILESH)NO ONE in the world would disagree that everyone should try to find ways and means to protect and improve the environment. But organisations are better equipped to do something concrete in this direction. What is possibly required is that these efforts should be properly managed at the corporate level.

This book advocates a systems-based approach rather than an ad-hoc/piecemeal approach. It is not necessary that environment protection/improvement will lead to reduced costs and higher profits. But if the environment has to be protected, we must agree to incur higher expenditures, if it is required.

The central theme of this book is the role of business in safeguarding the environment. It concentrates on what businesses can do to improve their environmental performance. Key features of the book include checklists, explanatory notes, references and analysis of the existing environmental strategies of a number of leading firms.

The book discusses sustainable development, which is development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Hence, future economic growth must take into account this aspect and maintain and improve the quality of life. What is needed is that business must translate these concepts into reality for which a strategy must be planned.

Although long term environment improvement is linked to wider issues of global concern, the future will become uncertain if adequate weightage is not given to this aspect and economic activities are not reoriented and redirected. Every organisation (and every individual) has a role to play in this direction. There can be long and short term strategies. Management has a very important role to play through its objectives, culture and commitment to change for the good of entire mankind.

There are a number of British, Canadian, Irish and International standards available for guidance for environmental management systems. Further every organisation is expected to lay down its environmental policy, which states its overall environmental intentions and directions.

Environmental auditing is a management tool for evaluation of the environmental system, with nine clear aims and objectives while environment audit has to be comprehensive and systematic some firms have carried out specific narrower assessments of part of their activities for particular purposes. Of course, audit has to be objective and independent in the audit procedure. Life Cycle Assessment (lca) is an analysis covering every stage and significant environmental impact of a product throughout its cycle. This facilitates direct measurement of environmental impact. There are four generally accepted stages in lca methodology. James and Bennett have listed 10 principles of successful environmental reporting viz., involuntary, mandatory and voluntary. Of course, companies have various reasons for reporting.

The small and medium enterprise sector globally accounts for about 70 per cent of the national product, although this may vary from country to country. It is relevant that their business should have development certification of systematic environmental management. Not only the performance at the firm level, but also the regional environmental performance can be improved by using the systems-based approach.

The book is considered a useful and practical book and may form part of 'essential reading'.

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