To help companies manage their environmental impacts, environmental management systems (EMS) have been developed. Most Environmental Management Systems (EMS) are structured in a similar way:
- Identifying the significant environmental aspects of the company
- Measuring the environmental base line: where and how much is the organisation influencing the environment
- Setting targets to reduce environmental impact
- Measuring progress in reaching the targets
- Adjusting targets or setting new targets with information acquired by measuring the progress in order to achieve continuous improvement
The best known management systems are the official environmental management systems ISO 14001 and EMAS.
ISO 14001 is an international environmental management system developed by ISO (International Organization for Standardization). The prefix 14 indicates that it is an environmental management system, the number 001 indicates that it is a general management system. There are other environmental management systems that are developed by ISO (prefix 14.) that focus on other environmental issues. They carry other numbers than 001. ISO 14001 only implicitly focuses on biodiversity.
Beside the ISO 14000 series, ISO has also published a guidance document for corporate social responsibility, called ISO 26000 which can be used by companies and other organisations alike. Socially responsible companies (CSR) not only pay attention to the economic side of their business but also to the society (employees, neighbouring communities etc.) and the environment. The guidance document explicitly mentions the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services as a possibility to become more socially responsible. The guidance document describes six other core subjects of CSR next to the environment but contains no requirements. It can therefore not be used as a certification.
EMAS (Eco Management and Audit Scheme) is a European EMS that can only be used by organisations (public and private) in EU countries. For an organisation to become EMAS certified, it has to meet more requirements compared to becoming ISO 14001 certified. Organisations that are EMAS certified have to determine significant environmental aspects. This means they have to review all their environmental impacts and prioritise them. EMAS also lays greater value on public dialogue and involvement of employees. Finally, it requires an organisation to publish an environmental statement. The certification scheme targets biodiversity, in the form of land use.