A case for (environmental) management. How biodiversity can be integrated into EMAS and ISO.

Fortunately, Eco-Management and Audit-Schemes (EMAS) and ISO 14.001 have become part of standard corporate practice. However, there still is a considerable need for raising awareness and educating people about biological diversity in order to increase the attention for this topic in business.

The situation regarding sustainability reports seems to be better. At times, such reports do give an account of the ecological consequences of mineral excavation or the actions that were taken to limit the destruction. Sustainability reports can be verified, but only rarely are they based on structured sustainability management. Thus, a continual improvement is unlikely.

EMAS III: Basic indicators for environmental performances

In January 2010, the revised EMAS III came into effect. It includes a set of changes that lead EMAS validated organisations towards a better performance in all environmental aspects. For the first time, basic indicators were defined that have to be used by the participating organisations in their environmental statements and reports. These indicators affect environmental performance in the following areas:

- energy efficiency: total annual energy consumption and the share of renewable energy

- material efficiency: total annual mass flow of the various replacement materials

- water: total annual water consumption

- waste: total annual waste accumulation and accumulation of hazardous waste

- biodiversity: land consumption

Additionally, the updated EMAS as well as ISO 14.001 (version of 2005) list impacts on biodiversity as direct environmental aspects. Therewith, the dramatic decrease of richness in species was finally included in the most established environmental management systems.

Currently, the European Commission is working on EMAS reference documents for the most important economic sectors and administrations. In addition to the indicator of area consumption these references will contain further key figures and indicators that are supposed to be used for the measurability of the goals, the monitoring of the taken actions and their consequences, including their impacts on biodiversity. In this context, the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign will deliver trade-specific indicators for the protection of biodiversity.

ISO 26.000 Social Responsibility

The new standard ISO 26.000 on Social Responsibility, that will be published by the end of the year 2010, adds biodiversity as a core theme of social responsibility. The explanation of the core theme "environment" goes into detail on the various forms of ecosystem destruction, on the loss of the diversity of species and on the influx of foreign animal and plant species. ISO 26.000 has also anchored the goal of fair spreading of the benefits arising through biodiversity utilisation in several core themes: as an honour of the right of ownership, good business practice, involvement of the local population and access to technological development.

Some countries do have a certified standards for social responsibility by now, either on the basis of ISO 14.001, ISO 26.000 or a combination of both. In Mexico and Brazil, companies and organisations are able to be certified since 2004. 34 Mexican and 20 Brazilian companies have done so thus far. Portugal and Spain have combined elements of ISO 14.001 and ISO 26.000 and enable certifications since 2009. Denmark will offer a similar certification procedure by the end of this year. Austria, Israel and England have already published guidelines and are currently working on certifications. Apparently, a trend towards a standardised and certifiable management system for CSR is observable.

"European Business and Biodiversity Campaign" assists with the integration

Thus, there is another good argument for companies to earnestly address biodiversity. Within the framework of the European Business and Biodiversity Campaign you will be able to receive assistance in integrating the protection of biodiversity into the (environmental) management of your company. With the help of a "Biodiversity-Check" corporations are able to examine all their activities and decide whether they want to systematically approach the improvement and the protection of biodiversity. 

by Marion Hammerl, Director of the Bodensee Stiftung

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