A guideline document for the application of an appropriate EMS for greener governance within DWAF
Munro, Geraldine Jane
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The purpose of this study is to establish whether an environmental management system will be beneficial for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) as a tool by which to apply "greener governance•, and if so, what type of EMS may be considered most appropriate, given the current challenges and •drivers" associated with the public sector in South Africa. In order to determine the type of system considered most appropriate for DWAF, a literature study of various environmental management systems (their associated standards) and the application thereof, both nationally and abroad was undertaken. The material used and referred to must by no means be considered comprehensive in nature, but rather indicative of current trends and observed shortcomings, which helped shape the proposed EMS. From the study, it was evident that the main driver and catalyst responsible for the application of EMSs within the public sector, is compliance with increasingly stringent environmental legislative requirements, as opposed to other sectors (such as industry), which are largely market driven. Organs of state are accountable for compliance with the legislative mandates that Parliament has vested in them. Having established the need for an EMS, the literary research and associated case studies demonstrated that an ISO 14001 based EMS is the most practical and appropriate of the respective systems, despite identified shortcomings, such as the fact that this type of system does not necessarily make provision tor various sustainable development criteria. It was however evident from the literary research that the identified shortcomings can be largely overcome, as this type of system is sufficiently flexible and robust to allow for continual improvement of both the organisation in question and the actual EMS itself, thus facilitating the evolution of the EMS to a point where it may be considered to constitute a sustainable management system (SMS). In developing an appropriate system, cognisance was taken of the need to develop not only a flexible but a robust system, which assures institutional stability (considered by some to be the fourth pillar of sustainability), so as to guard against •system failure•, which can be particularly problematic in developing countries such as South Africa. The proposed EMS was tested against identified sustainable development criteria and in developing an implementation strategy for the proposed EMS, various augmentary environmental management tools were considered, whicl1 may be applied in conjunction with the EMS. so as to facilitate the development of a system which over time (and through a process of continual improvement) may be considered to qualify as a sustainable management system (SMS). In this regard. cognisance was taken of both national and international trends. The integration of the proposed EMS into the existing management system of DWAF was considered an important part of the implementation strategy. A number of "hook-ons” were identified, the most important of which is the Environmental Management Framework (EMF) which following finalization and approval will be known as the Integrated Environmental Management Framework (IEMF). This framework; makes provision for the development of an appropriate EMS and will drive "components" of the envisaged system. forward in the interim, until such time as an overarching EMS can be implemented. Other "hook-ons" include the current pilot project initiated by the Auditor General in conjunction with the Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism (DEAT). This project and associated model attempts to refine the current reporting format compiled by all state departments in terms of the statutory reporting requirements of NEMA (Act 107 of 1998). This model makes provision for benchmarking of environmental performance between state departments and will also allow for •intermediate certification" by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), prior to certification of an ISO 14001 based EMS, which is Included in the scope of the proposed model. In considering the way forward, it was noted that although the proposed EMS is based upon ISO 14001 principles, certification of sucl1 a system for the foreseeable future is out of the question. given the associated costs and prerequisites. Various challenges were identified for the successful application of such a system, not least of which include adequate communication between the three tiers of government, especially Local Government responsible for the implementation of policies. programmes, plans and projects - and thus ultimately responsible for sustainable development. Thus it was recommended that as part of the EMS implementation strategy, national key risk areas be identified and allocated to cluster departments, to facilitate and optimise co-operative governance and the use of resources. Finally, it can be stated that the current circumstances and associated drivers (particularly compliance with legislation) should prove conducive for the development of an appropriate EMS for the department. Indications are that "greener governance" will go from strength to strength and be further supported by environmental fiscal reforms. in the future.