Exploratory project: Linkages between strategic environmental assessment and corporate environmental management

The MiSt Programme

Pilot Project 11 explores ways in which strategic planning, assessment and decision-making public (governance) sector can be enhanced through strengthening its conceptual, methodological and operational linkages with environmental management in private corporations.

The main practical rationale for the project is two-fold:

Firstly, public authorities are increasingly facing challenges similar to that of private corporations. This means that they have to organize their processes and routines in a business-like fashion; function in the "market-driven" environment with focus on "cost-efficiency", "competitiveness", and "performance" as well as rapidly respond to changing external pressures and demands. In particular, similarly to private businesses, public authorities of all levels face the need to streamline environmental thinking to correspond to the core functions of their organization.

Secondly, private corporations are increasingly viewed as being not only the major sources of environmental impacts, but also active agents of environmental change and management. Consequently, corporations are the major agents in both formulating and implementing environmentally significant policies, plans and programs (PPPs), therefore their role in SEA and environmental planning should be adequately recognized.

Thus, public authorities could (a) usefully utilize corporate environmental management (CEM) tools in SEA and decision-making and (b) ensure that outcomes of SEAs are shaping environmental management in private corporations that operate within the framework of the PPP in question. Practical objective (a) implies developing methodological linkages between SEA and   CEM and practical objective (b) implies developing operational or policy linkages. Neither type of linkages is currently satisfactorily explored in research literature.

Pilot Project 11 aims to identify and preliminary explore the key research issues related to interaction between SEA and CEM in so far as these fall within the scope of MiSt. In order to do this, the project targets the following objectives:

°         Identifying and grouping potential "inkages" between SEA and CEM.

°         Providing an overview of research literature related to each of the "linkages".

°         Explaining which of the linkages have most relevance to MiSt and why.

°         Identifying further research agendas.

The main method of this inquiry will be literature review as well as interviews with the MiSt team, staff of the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) in Lund and other researchers.

Pilot project 11 is closely linked to the three overarching themes of MiSt: effectiveness, tiering and the concept of tools.

-          Effectiveness. Linkages with corporate environmental management tools can influence effectiveness of implementation   of strategic environmental decisions due to the key role that private corporations play in formulating and implementing PPPs.

-          Tiering. The key tiering question formulated in MiSt is: "Can top-down goals and objectives be met in the bottom-up Swedish system of planning". The aim of this project is to explore tiering between environmental assessment and management as practiced by private corporations and SEA/strategic environmental decisions by public authorities.

-          Tools adoptability and applicability. While transferring tools from private sector to public authorities' decision-making, the relevant "implicit factors" as well as the context of tool use should be taken into account. Moreover, the analysis in this paper can throw additional light on the interrelation between three sets of tools (planning and management, environmental systems analysis and environmental management systems) distinguished by the MiSt proposal.

Pilot Project 11 has especially strong links with MiSt Project 9 (SEA Follow-Up), and Project 8(SEA in waste and energy sectors).

Pilot Project 11 will be completed in the first half of 2004 and result in a production of a Working Paper which will be discussed at a MiSt workshop with a view to possibly initiate a full-scale research project.

The leader for Pilot Project 11 is Dr. Aleg Cherp (cherpa@ceu.hu, Blekinge Institute of Technology and Central European University).

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