Training Module for Auditors

Local and regional authorities are an important target group for EMAS and ISO 14.001 as well as for performance management systems. Nevertheless, currently only about 360 public bodies are registered as an EMAS organization with about 800 sites. The number of sites within each registration varies considerably from one site per registration which is very common in this dataset, to 200 sites for one registration for the Environment Agency for England and Wales (Source: EMAS Registration, 2009).

The majority of the local and regional authorities implemented EMAS for a single site or service and not for the whole city development with all strategic environmental aspects (EMAS /ISO 14.001: indirect aspects) or the whole urban area.

To cover all strategic environmental aspects such as land use planning, traffic, energy or biodiversity and to include the social and economic dimension – and all this taking into account the whole urban area – is the final objective of integrated Sustainability Management for local and regional authorities.

Why is sustainability management important for local and regional authorities?

Local and regional authorities are very much concerned with appropriately delivering their services to enhance the quality of life for their citizens. Climate change and loss of biodiversity have proven to be major threats for local authorities in delivering this task.

Recent EU policies addressing these issues, including the EU 2020 strategy, the EU Cohesion policy, the Leipzig Charter, the EU Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment and others acknowledge the importance of an integrated management approach to ensure sustainability in cities and regions. So does the European Environment Agency in their report on ‘Ensuring Quality of Life in European Cities and Towns: “Decision-making needs to reflect and respond to the many interconnections that lie in the fundamental drivers of urban development, yet the reality is that major gaps still need to be filled. (...) Even if overall sustainable development strategies based on an integrative concept are in place, sectoral and vested interests remain dominant where decision-making, administration and budgets are fragmented (lacking institutional integration) and decision-makers are not aware of the benefits of an integrated approach.” (EEA, 05/2009)

  • Enhanced quality of life
  • Fostering economic growth in the area
  • Improvement of governance capacity
  • Reducing public management costs through increased efficiency and effectiveness of administration
  • Local government as role model
  • Improved coordination of individual needs and municipal tasks
  • Enhanced competitiveness
  • Securing future development (intergenerational justice
  • Protecting against environmental disasters
  • Becoming a political frontrunner

EMAS is a good basis for integrated sustainability management

„Today, climate change, demographic development and globalisation determine the framework for (economical) development. Sustainable development is more necessary than ever.
The structure and instruments of EMAS can help to understand better the responsibilities of companies and public bodies and to manage social and corporately aspects on all levels and in a systematic way. Environmental management and CSR are both horizontal tasks and therefore it is useful to take the EMAS management system as a basis for CSR management or sustainability management. (Brochure „7 gute Gründe für ein Umweltmanagement nach EMAS (7 good reasons for EMAS)“, 2009, German Auditors Committee)

EMAS III is much more focussing on so called indirect aspects which are the key tasks for local and regional authorities (land use planning, specific planning such as traffic and energy, procurement, etc.)

EMAS III allows reporting about all aspects of sustainable development – also within the environmental declaration, if it is clearly stated that only the environmental aspects have been certified. It is possible and recommendable to certify the Environmental Statement according to EMAS and the sustainability report according to Global Reporting Initiative criteria or by an independent auditor. This combination requires an especial responsibility of the auditor. All data /information need to be true and verifiable.

How to develop EMAS III towards Integrated Sustainability Management?

As an auditor you are the expert on management and it is not necessary to explain to you how a management system works. The Integrated Sustainability Management System (IMS) developed within the Managing Urban Europe Initiative and CHAMP is based on the EMAS and ISO 14.001 structure and processes.
The comparison of EMAS /ISO 14.001 will give you an overview on the similarities and the few differences.

Up to now, integrated sustainability management (IMS) is not a certifiable standard. The CHAMP project team is working on this issue. Nevertheless, minimum requirements for IMS have been elaborated in order to provide local and regional authorities an orientation and to define a minimum level of quality. To do more will be always possible; to do less is not integrated sustainability management!

IMS Minimum requirements

The experience of Managing Urban Europe, Enviplan, CHAMP and other initiatives shows that there are some key aspects to achieve the successful and long term implementation of sustainability management for local and regional authorities. Those key aspects are summarized in the document “Key aspects of successful implementation of IMS” and complemented with useful tools or examples.

For detailed information regarding all elements of the IMS, please consult the Capacity Development Package for local and regional governments where you will find guidelines on all elements.

Within CHAMP, we focus the IMS on climate change with the objective to manage more efficiently climate mitigation and adaptation to climate change. You will find all IMS guidelines adapted to this field of activity which is a good example for all those challenges which need an interdisciplinary and integrated way of management.