Tools for Environmental Management

6 Best Tools for Environmental Management

In this article, we will look at best tools for environmental management. Environmental management has made considerable progress over the years.

Now, there is a greater public awareness of the various environmental problems.

Environmental management can be defined as an adequate strategy for achieving sustainable development. It comprises educational structures, responsibilities, procedures, processes, and resources to determine and carry out environmental policies.

In addition, the management of the environment translates into a set of activities, techniques, and means that are aimed at conserving the elements of ecosystems and the ecological relationships between them, especially when there are alterations due to human action.

Management can be understood as a process that includes organizational functions, as well as activities that must be carried out if the desired goals and objectives must be achieved.

When it comes to environmental management and disaster reduction, there are three key processes. These processes are:

  • Planning
  • Assessment
  • Implementation

There are management tools used in each of these key stages. Environmental Profiling, Eco and Hazard Mapping are the tools used for planning.

For assessment, the tools used are Environmental Risk Assessment(ERA), Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA), and Strategic Environmental Assessment(SEA).

Under Implementation, the commonly used tool is the Environmental Management System.

The List of Tools for Environmental Management

  • Environmental Profiling
  • Eco and Hazard Mapping
  • Environmental Risk Assessment(ERA)
  • Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA)
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment(SEA)
  • Environmental Management System

Environmental Profiling

Creating an environmental profile(EP) of an area is the first step, as well as the critical step in understanding the interactions between the local environment and disaster vulnerabilities it faces.

Environmental profiling provides a systematic overview of the development, environment and disaster setting, as well as the institutional arrangement of an urban area. Usually, it is designed to highlight the environmental-disaster interactions, the critical issues, and the sectors and stakeholders that are directly concerned with them.

In this tool, a brief introduction to the social, economic and physical features of the city is made. The city’s various sectors, their characteristics, and use of environmental resources are mentioned.

Eco and Hazard Mapping(EHM)

This is a visual tool that creates an inventory of environmental assets of an area or community, and the vulnerabilities and risks it faces.

It is a systematic, as well as a simple method of conducting an on-site environmental review but collecting information that shows the current situation using maps and pictures. It is known to usually cover a range of issues, including information on the current situation, problem areas, sewage, water, soil, air, energy, waste, etc. It also includes geo-hydrological risks, as well as hazards that are faced by the urban area.

Eco and Hazard Mapping has been an effective, systematic means of inventorying environmental practices and problems and communicating environmental issues to urban residents. It also includes engaging them in environmental practices and implementing action at the local level.

It is a very visual tool that uses plans and maps of buildings and neighborhoods to identify and mark the environmental aspects of the urban setting, and the potential hazards and risks that they pose.

Due to the simplicity of this inventory process, multi-stakeholder participation is easily enabled. It also facilitates poat-disaster recovery and reconstruction by providing a baseline against which plans can be developed.

Environmental Risk Assessment(ERA)

Environmental Risk Assessment is a systematic analysis of the likelihood that the environment will experience a specified level of harm due to a natural disaster or a planned human activity.

Environmental Risk Assessment is a well-developed and systematic tool that provides the necessary information to make decisions that will mitigate and reduce the risk faced by vulnerable communities-whether from man-made aspects like chemical accidents or development projects or from natural aspects such as earthquakes and typhoons.

It calls for clear identification and formulation of the problem and characterizes the risks posed as a result. Furthermore, it calls for the instituting of a risk management plan that is periodically reviewed, and the results and decisions properly consulted and communicated to all key stakeholders.

Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA)

Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) is a formal process used to predict the environmental consequences of a project or an event. EIA ensures that the potential problems are foreseen and addressed at an early stage.

It is a structural procedure designed to help ensure that the projects and programs

are environmentally sound and sustainable. Adopted to disaster situations, EIA facilitates the identification, analysis and evaluation of potential environmental impacts and the identification and elaboration of measures that will avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse impacts from these disasters, whether man-made or natural.

It allows informed decision-making on the action to be taken and establishes a monitoring and environmental management regime for implementing mitigation measures, monitoring impacts for compliance, and ascertaining if impacts are as predicted.

The EIA tool, well known for the assessment of development projects such as a dam or a complex of factory buildings, can also be used for disaster planning and management. Like the ERA tool, it enables informed decision-making on the development of a city, but also in preparing for disasters (whether natural or man-made), and in monitoring and evaluation of the action taken.

Strategic Environmental Assessment(SEA)

Strategic Environmental Assessment is a process to ensure that significant environmental effects arising from disasters are identified, assessed, mitigated, communicated to decision-makers, monitored, and that public involvement is ensured.

Strategic Environmental Assessment is a systematic process for evaluating the environmental consequences of policies, plans, programs or proposals, to ensure that they are addressed early in the decision making process and on par with economic and social considerations. Applied to disaster management, it also helps in understanding the environmental consequences of pre- and post-disaster activities.

Undertaking SEAs can also contribute to sustainable development goals, promote accountability and credibility among the general public and specific stakeholders, and lead to broader policy coherence.

For simplicity, SEA can be broken down into different activities conducted alongside the development of disaster mitigation plans or programs, and consideration of alternative options.

Environmental Management System

Environmental Management Systems is a problem-identification and problem-solving tool, based on the concept of continual improvement, that can be implemented in an area or community in many different ways.

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a systematic way to ensure environmental issues are managed consistently and systematically. Effectively applied, an EMS can help integrate environmental considerations within a larger disaster management plan. Developing an EMS lies at the core of the international environmental standard, ISO 14001.

It sets out environmental policies, objectives and targets for the implementing organization, with pre-determined indicators that provide measurable goals, and a means of determining if the performance level has been reached. Often these are the same performance indicators that are chosen for strategic reasons.

An EMS follows a Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle or PDCA. It first develops an environmental policy, plans the EMS, and then implements it. The process also includes checking the system and acting on it. The process is continuous because an EMS is a process of continual improvement where it is constantly reviewed and revised.

Reference:

  • https://www.gdrc.org/uem/disasters/disenvi/tools/#:~:text=1-,Environmental%20Profiling,and%20disaster%20vulnerabilities%20it%20faces.

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