Principles of Environmental Management
Introduction: Industry has proven a major force for change in society through technological improvement and it is also part of industry practice to adapt its operating policies to match the changing expectations and requirements of society. As part of this process, the concept of sustainable development is being incorporated into business operations. Australian business has become increasingly focused on its environ-mental responsibilities. The Business Council, the body which represents the Chief Executive Officers of Australia's major businesses, has taken a keen interest in the various issues which make up the environmental debate. It has now produced a set of guidelines which it believes are appropriate for Australian business to adopt in the pursuit of environmental improvement. The Business Council of Australia has undertaken a series of initiatives in order to assist in the formulation of national and international policy. These have included:
- Publication of a policy statement in regard to Development and the Environment.
- A major paper outlining how we might be able to achieve sustainable development, entitled Achieving Sustainable Development.
- A detailed approach to the Assessment and Management of Con-terminated Sites.
- Participation in the Federal Government's Ecologically Sustain-able Development Working Group process.
- Participation in the development of a National Strategy for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in Australia.
- Participation in the international negotiations in regard to global climate change and biodiversity in the lead-up to UNCED in Rio in June 1992.
- Several studies pertinent to Australia's decision on the terms of participation in a global convention on climate change.
- Submission to the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council in response to a discussion paper on Financial Liability for Contaminated Site Remediation.
On World Environment Day 1991 the Business Council hosted a conference for its member companies around the theme of CORPORATE ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY. The conference, attended by over 80 senior executives identified the importance of broad corporate guidelines in the area of environmental management. That conference was followed by two workshops during 1991, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. The workshops developed guidelines which have been refined into these.
PRINCIPLES OF ENVIRON-MENTAL MANAGEMENT:
The principles result from intensive discussion with a broad spectrum of companies. They are intended to assist corporate Australia in the ongoing evolution of better environmental practice. The Broad Environmental Context.
The Major Issues: Concern for the environment has emerged as a major global issue during the 1980s and this concern will continue during the next decade and beyond. There may be a diminished public profile as more conventional issues unemployment, health, taxes, housing, education begin to preoccupy the community more, but that does not mean that the environmentally driven pressures on the community, government and companies will decrease. The environment is now on the political agenda throughout the world. Increasing concern shown by the electorate about the quality of their environment has encouraged governments and business to prepare for local and international action. The major issues include:
- possible climate change;
- land degradation and the impact of agriculture; (3) air and water quality;
- loss of habitat, particularly wetlands and forests;
- biological diversity;
- waste and problems of its disposal; and
- Depletion of the ozone layer.
International Action: The last two decades have seen governments take action to come to grips with these issues culminating in the major United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in June 1992. Significant international events to date include:
- The Toronto Conference on the Changing Atmosphere (1988).
- The Montreal Protocol of Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987).
- The Second World Climate Conference (1990).
The Second World Industry Conference on Environmental Management the launch of the International Chamber of Commerce Business Charter for Sustainable Development (WICEM II, 1991).