United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan
Paper prepared for the International Symposium on Sustainable City Development
Seoul, South Korea – 6 and 7 October 1999
ABSTRACT: ISO 14001 defines a voluntary environmental management system (EMS). Used in conjunction with appropriate goals, and with management commitment, the standards help improve environmental performance and reduce negative impacts. They provide an objective basis for verifying claims about a local government's environmental performance in its day-to-day operations.
Consumers, governments and companies up and down the supply and production chain are all seeking ways to reduce their environmental impact and increase their long-run sustainability. For local governments, the key goals are to be environmentally efficient, and serve as a model for resource-saving and replication.
This paper explores the intersection of city governments, EMS and the ISO 14001 series. It outlines the justification for cities to implement an EMS for their day-to-day operations, and seek ISO 14001 certification. It also provides case studies of Japanese cities and prefectures (Shirai city, Itabashi ward of Tokyo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and Gifu Prefecture) that have attempted ISO certification. Additional resources on ISO 14001 are also included in the Annex.
Final version dated 27 September 1999.
Cities, Environmental Management Systems and ISO 14001: A View from Japan
Hari Srinivas and Makiko Yashiro
United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan
1.0 Introduction Since the bursting of the bubble economy in the late 1980s, urban governments3 in Japan have faced the triple challenge of retaining businesses and revitalizing the local economy, of reversing population flight and graying of the population, and of generating developmental and financial resources to create a quality of life that is desired by its citizens. But the unbridled growth-oriented economic development of the decades since the end of World War II has brought about a fourth challenge for Japanese cities in the 80s and 90s – a concern for the environment, both local and global.
Cities in Japan have increasingly recognized that a stable, sustainable and efficient local/urban environment is an underlying ‘common denominator’ for any developmental processes, and has considerable externalities for broad economic and social revitalization. Decentralization has also become a buzzword, with cities having to take up greater and broader responsibilities and leadership roles in managing the local environment. Expectations from the city’s citizens have proportionately increased – qualitatively and quantitatively.
These trends have been tempered by the fact that urban governments cannot act singly with respect to the environment, and there is a need for a broad framework of participation and partnership with the civil society at large to be put in place if any effective action is to be taken. This has gained added momentum as traditional ‘end-of-pipe’ solutions4 have given way to more life cycle-oriented analysis that aims at eliminating the root cause of problems and impacts.
In this process of changing attitudes and approaches, urban governments have come to realize that participation and partnership does not just happen and a middle ground has to be found, where each entity/stakeholder plays its role to the fullest, aiming for commonly agreed objectives and goals.
As a result, many cities in Japan are now turning to the approach of developing an environmental management system (EMS) with the goal of attaining certification to the recently established International Standard – ISO 14001. The establishment of an EMS (that lies at the core of ISO 14001) is seen as a tool for creating the structures to integrate changed responsibilities and more importantly for the urban government to plan and allocate the resources to implement and deliver services so that they address community priorities.
This paper explores in detail the institution of an EMS within urban governments in Japan. It outlines the pros and cons of cities seeking and implementing ISO 14001 certification, and provides four case studies at different levels of governance in Japan - Shiroi town, Itabashi ward of Tokyo, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and Gifu Prefecture (see Appendices 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively). The discussions presented here are based on interviews with city officials in the above four urban governments, as well as online and offline secondary literature5.
2.0 What is ISO 14001? ISO 14001 is a voluntary international standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), based in Geneva, Switzerland. At its core, it sets the requirements for establishment of an environmental management system.6 The implementation of ISO 14001 is cyclical process requiring the development of a comprehensive environmental policy, a planning process to operationalize the policy, its implementation and operation, checking and implementing corrective action if needed, and management review – which feeds back to rewriting the environmental policy (see Figure 1).
Box 1: The ISO 14001 Series
The ISO 14001 series addresses environmental management systems, environmental auditing, environmental labeling, environmental performance evaluation, and life cycle assessment. These International standards are voluntary standards for the establishment of a common worldwide approach to management systems that will lead to the protection of the earth's environment while spurring international trade and commerce. They serve as tools to manage environmental programs and provide an internationally recognized framework to measure, evaluate, and audit these programs.
When implemented, these standards will ensure consistency in environmental management practice, harmonize national environmental standards within an international framework, simplify registrations, labeling and conflicting requirements, provide a single system for all transnational subsidiaries, and offer guidelines for environmental management excellence.
Even though the standards do not prescribe performance levels, performance improvements will invariably be achieved by any entity if its commitment to environmental care is emphasized and employees are trained and are aware of the policies in place to protect the environment. The ISO 14001 voluntary environmental management standards and guidelines are intended to be practical, useful and usable for companies or organizations of all sizes.
Source: ANSI Online
For cities, there are several benefits of acquiring ISO 14001 certification. It provides leverage in emphasizing and replicating better citywide environmental action. It enables and provides an integrated approach to sound environmental management. The ISO 14001 takes a comprehensive view of all of the processes of an organization - hence it is system dependent, and not person-dependent.
Some of the procedures required to be put in place in order to obtain ISO 14001 certification include:
identification of significant environmental aspects
identification of legal and other requirements
internal and external communication and awareness building
information collation and analysis
emergency preparedness and response
monitoring and measurement of resource consumption
evaluating legal and regulatory compliance
Figure 1: Sections of an EMS
A number of clauses need to be satisfied in order to obtain ISO 14001 certification. Table 1 below lists out some of these elements and clauses.
Table 1: The Elements of ISO 14001
An EMS is to be established and maintained according to the requirements of Clause 4 in whole.
An effective EMS is driven by senior level commitment to the ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY.
The EMS is developed in a PLANNING exercise that identifies:
Significant environmental impacts of the organizations; and
Legal and other requirements and generates:
Objectives and targets for environmental performance; and
Environmental management programs/plans for delivering the environmental policy.
IMPLEMENTATION and OPERATION requires:
Structure and responsibility;
Training, awareness, and competence;
External & internal communication;
Operational control; and
Emergency preparedness and response.
Performance is assured through CHECKING & CORRECTIVE ACTION, including:
The ongoing relevance and continual improvement of the EMS is a function of the MANAGEMENT REVIEW.
3.0 Why ISO?
Internal and External Benefits for Cities The ISO 1400 series is relatively new, with many companies and business attempting to obtain ISO certification for themselves. Cities (local governments, municipalities, development boards, metropolitan authorities etc.) are yet to take advantage of the benefits that ISO certification entails them.
The development of an EMS provides a number of general benefits. It creates structured management systems, from which a cycle of continuous improvement can be established. It brings the many environmental issues of concern expressed by the community into day-to-day operations and development of long term work plans and programs of the urban government. It also improves the understanding amongst an urban government’s personnel of where operations interact with the natural environment and the role that various groups play in the delivery of urban services.
Quite clearly, there are several internal and external benefits for urban governments if they seek ISO certification. While internal benefits ensure wider and deeper participation on the part of an urban government's employees, it is the external benefits that form the key justification for an urban government seeking to obtain ISO certification (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Internal and External Concerns Internal Benefits (accrued to the urban government):
By putting in place an environmental management system (EMS) that lies at the core of ISO 14001 certification, cities can effect a substantial saving of everyday resources that they use for their operations.
Cities can also cut costs on several fronts, due to the environmental review process that identifies overuse or wasteful utilization.
With an effective EMS that covers all aspects of an urban government's day-to-day operations and activities, it also improves staff commitment and morale, highlighting their contribution to 'saving the earth'.
The processes involved in obtaining ISO certification envisages a complete review of existing activities and understanding their impact on the environment. It aims at removing negative impacts and strengthening positive impacts, leading to improved efficiency in operation, and better integration in day-to-day activities.
Since a lot of data on an urban governments’ activities need to be collected, and interlinkages identified, it also helps in developing a more effective information management system.
External Benefits (accrued to the city as a whole):
With growing prioritization of the global and local environment, ISO 14001 acquisition demonstrates a city's 'green face' to its citizens and also helps in emphasizing the need for greater environmental action on the part of urban stakeholders at the local level.
A city's acquisition of ISO certification helps in serving as a model for other urban and regional governments to emulate and replicate.
An urban government that has obtained ISO certification can, from a position of strength, promote replication of acquiring ISO Certification from other stakeholders in the city, particularly private sector businesses and industry, where a properly and strategically implemented EMS can have far-reaching and long-term impacts.
It emphasizes the concept, 'environmental-action-starts-at-home', where local and immediate actions at the grassroots, have long-term global implications.
The key difference with acquisition of ISO 14001 is that urban governments have to take action themselves in-house and from within, demonstrating environmental sensitivity to the residents and all sectors of the city, and promoting replication.
4.0 Limitations and Priorities:
A Local Government’s Perspective on ISO acquisition While cities have been adept and keen on implementing citywide programmes and initiatives for environmental management, satisfying the internal and voluntary obligations of ISO 14001 and EMSs have been more difficult to commit.
Some of the limitations that urban governments face include:
As mentioned in the introduction, for many cities in Japan, the environment has been only a recent priority - where attracting businesses, retaining population, education and health, job-creation etc. have taken more immediate and higher priority.
The benefits of acquiring ISO 14001 certification is not clearly understood, particularly its long-term and external benefits in influencing other urban stakeholders and development activities.
Urban governments face several political and/or administrative barriers in effectively implementing the requirements and commitment under ISO 14001. This includes centralized planning systems that leave little flexibility at the local level.
There are several restrictions within the urban planning and management systems currently in place, which may require legislative, legal and other sanction before it can be modified.
Requirements under ISO 14001, particularly in implementing the EMS, need financial commitments in order to carry out the action - commitments that urban governments may be reluctant to make.
Lack of appropriate and adequate knowledge and technologies that are needed to put in place an under the ISO 14001.
These limitations within urban governments, of course, become targets for priority action - to be implemented either internally, or with the assistance and partnership of external agencies and organizations.
It is clear that prioritization of the environment at the local and city level has to be emphasized by highlighting its long-term benefits, and the global effects of local action.
Greater and broader dissemination of information and documentation of existing city level ISO activities has to be combined with dialogue and consultations in order to clearly outline the benefits of ISO acquisition to cities.
Better awareness-building and stream-lined decision making processes that involves all levels and sections of an urban government should be implemented in order to overcome political and administrative barriers7. Similarly, understanding the indirect and long-term benefits of implementing an EMS may help in removing or overcoming the restrictions in existing urban planning and management systems.
By sufficient prioritization and sanction at the top levels of decision-making, and its integration into existing day-to-day activities, financial constraints and limitations can be also eliminated.
Extensive internal and external exchange of information, identification of best practices, wider participation, training and seminars, etc. will be necessary to remove the constraints of lack of knowledge and technologies to implement an EMS. This may include assistance and partnership from the private sector and research institutions.
The decision to develop and implement an EMS is also based on the fact that it provides many benefits for the urban government. It creates a structured process for ongoing consideration of community concerns about environmental and service delivery issues by (a) regular identification and prioritization of the issues of concern; (b) establishing measurable objectives and targets to address the concerns; (c) allocating the resources and defining the structures and responsibilities required to achieve the objectives and targets; and (d) communicating with the community on how their concerns are reflected in the objectives and targets and being addressed through the allocation of a city’s resources.
In terms of managing daily operations, an EMS creates a structured mechanism for ensuring compliance with environmental and other statues and regulations. It provides the evidence of compliance when an environmental incident occurs and assists in follow-up action. It improves employee health and safety and therefore reducing lost time and insurable risk, at the same time increasing employee moral by creating a focused direction for the urban government. It spreads environmental responsibility throughout the organization, in particular to those personnel directly associated with the identified environmental impacts, and identifies potential operational improvements and efficiencies and associated financial savings. An EMS also improves the efficiency of service delivery by creating a cycle of continuous improvement, and creates the evidence that the community's environmental issues of concern are being identified and controlled in the delivery of the services.
Development of an EMS consists of the following core components - establishment of a mission statement; identification of environmental impacts and legal requirements; setting of environmental objectives and targets; establishment of responsibilities, procedures and policies, and records; and creating systems for regular evaluation and improvement of the management system.
5.0 Resources and Activities:
Operationalizing the ISO 14001 Process Two key issues of ISO 14001 stand out - one, the obligations under the standard are voluntary and greatly depend on the objectives and targets that the city sets for itself; two, the ISO certification embodies a comprehensive/annual/external monitoring and evaluation system ensuring that the EMS put in place is indeed followed through and maintained.
Information would therefore play a key role in the acquisition, implementation and sustenance of the ISO certification. The collation, packaging and dissemination of information to the appropriate stakeholders inside and outside an urban government are therefore critical for an effective and comprehensive EMS within an urban government.
This would require, for example:
Seminars and workshops to introduce the concept behind ISO 14001, the advantages and disadvantages of acquiring ISO certification. This is targeted at all staff members of the urban government.
City consultations and dialogue with other urban governments, citizens groups and other stakeholders in developing a broad and comprehensive EMS.
In-depth training and capacity building - of staff members and others within the urban government responsible for implementing the EMS.
Information dissemination of the ISO initiative to other organizations and the civil society at large for replication and follow-up.
Consultancy and registration for ISO Certification - with the external agency that is authorized to provide the ISO 14001 certification.
Box 2: Steps involved in obtaining ISO 14001 certification
Initial review of impacts and influences on outside the environment.
Evaluation of environmental policy aspects8
Setting up of environmental objectives and targets
Setting up an environmental management programme
… First Provisional Audit of steps taken …
Training of staff and other personnel
Communication and documentation of environmental aspects
Emergency preparedness and response (including satisfying building/fire control laws)
Monitoring and evaluation
Non-performance and corrective action
Documentation and recording
Second Provisional Review …
Final Audit Report and Certification
The entire process above can take from a year to two years to complete.
Source: UNU ISO Working Group
6.0 Stakeholders and Roles:
Networking and partnership for greater participation Considering the nature of an urban government's duties and responsibilities towards the entire city, and the potential for replication by various companies, groups, institutions etc. within the city, there is a need for a broad participation by a range of stakeholders in (a) assisting the city to acquire ISO certification, and (b) disseminating information on the process and results of the acquisition to a broader audience.
Who are the stakeholders and what are their roles?
The key stakeholder is, of course, the urban government itself. Along with the city's council, the mayor's office and other sections and agencies of the urban government, they are directly responsible for taking the initiative of seeking, implementing and sustaining an ISO 14001 and its EMS requirements, within the city government. They would also have to disseminate the results to all urban stakeholders for replication.
NGOs and citizen's groups in the city have a role to play in pressuring the urban government to seek and implement the ISO 14001 acquisition process, and also to review the actions taken by the city government.
Experts, researchers and universities and international organizations are critical in building awareness, education, and consultation in building the framework for the cities to implement EMS and ISO 14001 requirements. They also have a role in disseminating the results to a wider audience.
ISO Certification Consultants (REGISTRARS9) have the important role in providing advice to an urban government on the development of an EMS, in testing the viability and implementation of the EMS itself, and issuance of ISO certification to the city. The Registrars are also responsible for the annual monitoring and evaluation of the EMS's implementation.
Specific operations and departments of a city government can be individually targeted for action – for example, water treatment and distribution services, wastewater collection and treatment services, solid waste disposal and management services, regional planning and development services, or collection of storm water.
EMS and ISO 14001 within the Context of Sustainable Cities As the sustainable city programmes of UNCHS, EU and other entities show, strong local governance through broad partnership with the broader civil society is a critical ingredient for success. Proper collation, packaging and dissemination of information and knowledge, better capacity building, streamlined decision-making and resource conservation have been seen as key to a sound environmental management programme.
Within this approach, the facilitative role of urban governments has been highlighted – where they can guide local environmental management from a position of strength. Some Japanese cities have chosen to adopt and implement the ISO 14001 standard as a way to develop this position of strength. Command-and-Control approach are gradually being replaced by a Show-and-Tell approach where cities have sought to garner broad grassroots action of urban stakeholders – institutions, businesses, industry, universities etc. – by implementing it in-house and demonstrating such action. As mentioned above, this gives such cities considerable leverage in prodding the private sector to participate in developing and instituting an EMS.
The ISO 14001 Series is relatively new and is itself to be subjected to review in the very near future. Experiences of pioneering cities and businesses that have obtained ISO certification will definitely influence the future structure that the ISO series will take. Yet, the concept or idea in itself is valid – of urban governments cleaning up their own backyard before expecting the broader civil society and urban stakeholders to take action in preserving and managing the local environment in a sustainable way.
Bibliography ANSI Online (1999) “ISO 14000 Environmental Management Standards” Document on the World Wide Web. http://web.ansi.org/public/ISO14000/ The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
AQA Press (1999) Frequently Asked Questions about ISO 14000. World Wide Web Document at - http://www.aqaweb.com/psFAQ14.html Bass, Ron (1999) Environmental Management Goes Global: What ISO 14001 means to Local Governments. American Planning Association, California Chapter.
Martin, Raymond (1998) ISO 14001 Guidance Manual. National Center for Environmental Decision-Making Research.
PISDES (1999) ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems and Public Policy. Proceedings of a workshop held on July 29 1999 in Oakland, California.
American National Standards Institute Online
ISO - International Organization for Standardization
Global Environment and Technology Foundation
ECOLOGIA ISO 14000 Online Resources
US EPA Standards Network
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
ISO 14000 Environmental Management System Registration Services
NSF International Strategic Registrations, Ltd. (NSF-ISR)
MGMT Alliances, Inc.
The ISO 14001 Initiative of Shiroi Town
General Description: Shiroi Town is located in the northwestern part of Chiba prefecture, about 30 kilometers from Tokyo. It has an area of about 35 square kilometers, with a population of 50,000. Located close to Tokyo, the town developed as an agricultural region. However, since mid 60s, it experienced rapid urbanization, and has developed as a key industrial and residential area. As a result of the rapid urbanization, the town is currently facing many problems such as deterioration of natural environment, increase in waste generation, air and water pollution, etc. for which measures need to be taken urgently.
Background for the movement toward the acquisition of ISO14001 certificate: With increased public concerns on global environmental issues such as global warming, ozone depletion, etc., the town recognized the need to take voluntary actions for protecting the living environment for residents. Accordingly, it was decided by the town office that the year 1995 be "a year of the environment", and in 1996, the town declared itself to become "a city of environment". The decisions show the intention of the town office to pursue development of the town in an environmentally sound manner, and enlighten the need to pursue environmental protection and raise public environmental awareness. On Shiroi Town's internet website, it is clearly stated that the town office needs to be aware of the negative impacts to the environment that the activities of the town are bringing about, and that the town office itself needs to improve its environmental behavior. Thus, the acquisition of ISO14001 certificate was targeted as an effective means for the office to achieve this objective.
Stage of acquisition of ISO14001 certificate: Initiation of preparation for the acquisition: May 1997
Acquisition of certificate: January 1998
Features of activities: The experience of Shiroi Town is unique in that it is the first local government in Japan to acquire the ISO14001 certificate. There was no precedence that the town office could refer to in its process of ISO acquisition. Instead, the town officials were reported to have consulted officials of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in May 1997 where they were informed that there was a possibility even for local governments such as Shiroi Town to acquire ISO14001 certificate, and this motivated the town office to work on the acquisition.
The final decision to acquire ISO14001 certificate was made by the town mayor who had taken a strong initiative in the decision making process. In deciding the acquisition, it was recognized that based on the idea of “Think Globally, Act Locally”, it was indispensable for the office to take actions in partnership with other stakeholders to overcome environmental issues.
The scope of the application of Shiroi town's environmental management system (EMS) covers all the activities carried out by the town office. The main internal objectives and long-term internal benefits of the acquisition were reported to be: 1) to raise environmental awareness of the staff members; 2) to reduce negative environmental impact of the activities of the town office; and 3) to utilize EMS in daily operations of the city office. On the other hand, external objectives and long-term external benefits were reported to be the enlightenment effect that the action of the town office itself could bring about among other stakeholders in Shiroi, which would lead them to take actions by themselves, and promote better living environment for residents.
As a result of the requisition of the certificate and its implementation, it was reported that, internally, the office experienced: 1) the reduction of negative impact to the environment by its activities (e.g. 19% reduction of paper use in the office, 2% reduction of utility use); 2) raised environmental awareness of staff members; and 3) established the concept of EMS in its daily operations. On the other hand, it was reported that externally, the acquisition of the certificate and its implementation had contributed to: 1) an improved image of the town and 2) increased acquisition of ISO14001 certificate by other stakeholders in the town. It was also reported that the acquisition by the town office raised the concerns and promoted the activities of other local government bodies on ISO14001, and the town office received many inquiries and requests for information about the acquisition process from other local government bodies.
With regard to the information dissemination and communication, it was reported that the town office disseminated information regarding its experience on ISO14001 and EMS to other local governments, other stakeholders in Shiroi as well as outside the town through the Internet and various publications. With regard to the barriers in the process of acquisition, it was reported that since the process was undertaken mainly by staff members of the Environmental Department, there was a significant increase in administrative work that hampered daily operations of the department.
The ISO 14001 Initiative of Itabashi ward of Tokyo
General Description: Itabashi ward is one of Tokyo Metropolitan area's 23 wards, located in the northwestern part of Tokyo. It has an area of about 32 square kilometers, with a population of about 50,000. Since mid 80s, the ward experienced rapid urbanization which brought about serious deterioration of its natural environment, and since then, the ward office has promoted afforestation and other environmental activities as one of its core policies.
Background for the movement toward the acquisition of ISO14001 certificate: In facing the urgent need to take measures for the environment, the ward office carried out various environmental activities such as introduction of low pollution vehicles and establishment of a center for environmental education called "The Eco-Police Center". In 1993, the ward declared that it would become "a city of environment", in order to show internally as well as externally that it considered the creation of a town that could coexist with the environment as one of the prioritized policies. In addition, in order to take Agenda 21 into account (adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992), the ward established a Local Agenda called "Agenda 21 Itabashi", which became the core of environment-related activities of the ward. In 1997, the ward office developed its own environmental management and auditing system, and since then, under the framework of the system, it has carried out assessment of energy use as well as waste generation and recycling in its office, and has provided environmental training courses for its staff members. However, in recognizing the need to further develop the system and establish more effective management system in conformity with the concept of ISO14001, a new EMS for Itabashi was developed in 1998. It should be noted that the new EMS was developed based on the one that already existed, and the objective was to find a way to transform the existing EMS into one that would better suit the requirements of ISO14001.
Stage of acquisition of ISO14001 certificate: Initiation of preparation for the acquisition: December 1997
Acquisition of certificate: February 1999
Features of activities: Itabashi Ward is the first ward of Tokyo's 23 wards and the fifth local government in Japan to acquire ISO14001 certification. The final decision to acquire ISO14001 certificate was made by the Ward Mayor. The scope of the application of EMS includes all activities carried out by the ward office, and all the facilities of the ward, except schools. It was reported that the consensus on the scope of the application was made relatively smoothly, since there was sufficient understanding and support for the acquisition of ISO14001 from each section of the office.
One of the main advantages that the ward office could obtain from the acquisition was that it enabled the integration of various activities carried out separately by individual sections of the office, and establish an integrated and effective management system. The main internal objectives and long-term internal benefits of the acquisition were: 1) to promote the planning and implementation of policies for environmental protection; 2) to raise environmental awareness of staff members; 3) to reduce negative impact on the environment by the activities of the ward office; and 4) to save operational costs by saving energy and resource use. On the other hand, external objectives and long-term external benefits were: 1) to establish greener commercial distribution channels and markets by prioritizing the purchase of recycled papers and eco-friendly goods; 2) to raise environmental awareness and cooperative attitude of residents on environmental activities carried out by the ward office; 3) to support local enterprises in their acquisition processes, based on its own experience; and 4) to increase transparency of its activities by disseminating information regarding its environmental policy and its experience.
With regard to the information dissemination and communication, the ward office has been disseminating information regarding its experience on ISO14001 and EMS to residents, other stakeholders in a town, as well as other local governments by distributing manuals and newsletters, and organizing seminars particularly targeting businesses that need support for acquisition of ISO certification.
Based on the experience of the ward office, it was reported that the cooperation and full understanding by all the sections of the office was indispensable for the acquisition of the certificate. Furthermore, it was noted that the acquisition itself was just a starting point, and what is more important is to keep making the efforts to raise environmental awareness of each individual staff member, as well as to constantly improve the EMS itself.
The ISO 14001 Initiative of Tokyo Metropolitan Government
General Description: Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is located in the central Japan. It has an area of about 2,200 square kilometers (about 0.6% of the total land area of Japan), with a population of about 11.8 million (about 10% of the total population in Japan). The Metropolis consists of the following three parts: 1) 23 wards which consists of the urban central part of Tokyo; 2) Tama area in the western part of Tokyo which consists of suburban cities, farming regions, and mountainous regions, and 3) scattered island area in the Pacific Ocean.
Background for the movement toward the acquisition of ISO14001 certificate: Being the capital of Japan, as well as one of the largest cities in the world, Tokyo has been facing serious environmental issues brought about by significantly increasing urban activities. In facing such a situation, it was reported that the government had come to recognize the need to take voluntary actions for protecting the environment, by recognizing itself not only as the governing body but also as the largest 'consumer' of everyday goods such as paper etc.
In 1997, it decided to introduce an action plan called, “Eco-Up Plan”, which outlines quantitative goals to be met for such items as paper and utility use in the office to make the its offices 'greener'. It also includes concrete action plans that need to be considered in pursuing these operations. In order to implement the Plan in a more effective manner, in 1998, it was decided to initiate the acquisition of ISO14001 certification.
Stage of acquisition of ISO14001 certificate: Initiation of preparation for the acquisition: December 1998
Acquisition of certificate: March 2000 (expected)
Features of activities: The acquisition process by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is still under way. Once the Metropolitan headquarters office in Shinjuku (with 13,000 staff members) acquires the certificate, it is expected to be the largest organizational unit in Japan to acquire the certificate.
The final decision to acquire ISO14001 certificate was made by the Governor of Tokyo. Although there was some discussion on the potential benefits of acquisition, scope of targeted operations, etc., there was no major opposition against the decision to acquire the certificate. After the decision was taken, the Department of Environmental Protection was designated as the secretariat, while the Policy and Information Office (responsible for policy making and coordination) and the Finance Department (responsible for building management) were designated to jointly function with the secretariat as a project team. In addition, the Department of Construction (responsible for public construction work), Office for the Accounting Chief (responsible green procurement), and Staff Training Center (responsible for education and training) also played key roles in the process by actively participating as members of the expert's sectional meeting of the project team. Since there was insufficient knowledge regarding the processes and benefits of acquisition, seminars were organized by the Metropolitan government office by inviting professional ISO registrars and inspectors. Staff members also participated in seminars organized by private educational organizations. It was also reported that the office collected information from other local governments such as Osaka prefecture, Oita prefecture as well Joetsu City and Niigata prefecture which were also actively working on ISO acquisition.
The scope of the targeted activities to which EMS is to be applied is currently under discussion. The main internal objectives and long-term internal benefits of the acquisition are: 1) to raise environmental awareness of the staff members; 2) to reduce operational costs of the government office; 3) to increase environmental consideration in activities by the Metropolitan government office; and 4) to improve and increase effectiveness of the existing EMS. On the other hand, external objectives and long-term external benefits are: 1) to clearly present the attitude and determination of the government office to actively work for the establishment of a sustainable society; 2) to promote environmental consideration by other stakeholders in the Metropolis in their activities; and 4) to promote the acquisition of ISO14001 by ward, city, town, and village offices located in the Metropolis which would eventually lead to the development of efficient environmental administration by the government office.
With regard to the likely barriers in acquisition and implementation process of the ISO14001, it was reported that it would be difficult to decide how to apply and interpret the standards required by the certificate in the complex organizational framework of the Metropolitan government office. Regarding information dissemination and communication, it is planned that the office will actively disseminate the experience and know-how to the public once it acquires the certificate. It is also planned that once EMS is established, the continuous improvement is to be made in order make the system more efficient and environmentally sound.
The ISO 14001 Initiative of Gifu Prefecture
General Description: Gifu prefecture is located in central Japan and is one of the few prefectures in Japan without a coastline. It has an area of about 10,600 square kilometers, with a population of about 2,120,000. About 80 percent of the land is forest area, and it has plains in its south. However, due to rapid urbanization, it has experienced various environmental problems such as air pollution caused by automobile exhaust emissions, water pollution caused by run-off and drainage, and increased waste generation from businesses and households. Furthermore, its farming areas have also faced lowered capacities for environmental protection due to high depopulation.
Background for the movement toward the acquisition of ISO14001 certificate: In facing various environmental issues mentioned above, there has been growing concern by the public for environmental amenities, as well as recognition by the prefectural government for the need to take immediate actions against environmental issues not only from the local perspective, but also from global perspectives. The environmental protection activities of Gifu Prefecture are featured in the initiative called, “Love Earth Gifu Initiative” which was introduced in 1990. It is a framework of environmental activities carried out by the prefectural government, and it is clearly stated on an official report that the objective of the initiative is to promote other stakeholders in the prefecture to take actions in reducing negative impacts on the environment, and the prefectural government itself taking lead in carrying out environmental activities.
In order to better pursue the Love Earth Gifu Initiative, in 1996, the prefectural government established “Gifu Agenda 21”, which consists of concrete implementation plans with targeted quantitative goals for the prefectural government, businesses, and households, in their activities for environmental protection.
Furthermore, in 1998, in facing an increased need for environmental issues to be tackled in partnership with the government, businesses and citizens, the prefectural office decided to acquire the ISO 14001 certificate by recognizing the need to reduce negative environmental impacts of its activities as a major consumer, as well as aiming at promoting similar activities among other stakeholders in the prefecture. Thus, the decision to acquire ISO14001 was decided and the “New Love Earth Gifu Initiative” was introduced by expanding the original Initiative to include ISO14001.
Stage of acquisition of ISO14001 certificate: Initiation of preparation for the acquisition: November 1998
Acquisition of certificate: July 1999
Features of activities: The final decision to acquire ISO14001 certificate was made by the Prefectural Governor, and it was reported that there was no objection in the decision making process since the decision was strongly endorsed by all involved. No pressure was also reported from the citizens groups to the prefectural office to defer acquisition. Once the decision was made, significant part of the task was carried out by the Environmental Policy Division of the Department of Health, Welfare and Environment, which functioned as a secretariat for the acquisition process. The EMS was established by the prefectural office itself, without having an outside consultant, but experts were invited to the office to give training sessions for staff members. In the process of acquisition, staff members who are involved in the acquisition process visited several other local governmental offices (Saitama prefecture, Osaka prefecture, etc.) in order to get information regarding the acquisition and implementation process of the ISO14001.
The scope of the application of EMS is all activities carried out by the prefectural office. The main internal objectives and long-term internal benefits of the acquisition were reported to be: 1) to raise environmental awareness of the staff members by acquiring certificate from a third organization; 2) to carry out activities of the prefectural office in an environmentally sound and internationally recognized manner; 3) to reduce the operational costs by carrying out its activities in more efficient manner. On the other hand, external objectives and long-term external benefits were reported to be: 1) to promote environmental activities in the prefecture; 2) to promote city, town, and village offices and businesses in the prefecture to acquire ISO certification by the enlightened effect of the prefectural office's action; 3) to increase accountability of operations by the prefectural office; and 4) to improve the eco-friendly image of the prefectural office.
As a result of the requisition of the certificate and its implementation, it was reported that, internally, the office experienced: 1) reduced negative environmental impact; 2) reduced operational costs; and 3) accumulation of know-how related to EMS. On the other hand, it was reported that externally, the acquisition of the certificate and its implementation had contributed to: 1) increased acquisition of ISO14001 certificate by city, town, and village office as well as businesses in a prefecture. However, it should be noted that it was reported that the acquisition of the certificate had not effected other policies of the prefectural government itself.
With regard to the information dissemination and communication, it was reported that the prefectural office has presented its environmental plan and manual for environmental management through the Internet. In addition, it released the manual of environmental management, rules of environmental management and other related documents through a Local Area Network (LAN) which is accessible by city, town and village offices in the prefecture. Seminars and consultation services regarding the acquisition and implementation of ISO14001 have been organized in order to disseminate the experience of the prefectural office. With regard to the barriers in the process of acquisition, it was reported that due to the tight financial situation as well as the pressure for administrative reform which requires significant amount of work, the office experienced difficulties in assigning staff members to work exclusively on the acquisition and implementation of ISO14001.
1 Dr. Hari Srinivas is Programme Associate at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan. He can be contacted at the following email: email@example.com
2 Ms. Makiko Yashiro is Programme Assistant at UNU. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org United Nations University, 5-53-70, Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo – 150-8925, Japan
3 In this paper, the term 'urban government' is used in its very broad meaning and includes all forms of local governments - municipal boards, metropolitan boards, development agencies, city agencies, etc. that are directly involved in the overall planning, development and management of a city. It also includes related agencies that provide urban services such as electricity boards, water supply and sewerage boards, transport agencies etc.
4 Sometimes this is described in an amusing way as “creating a problem and then trying to solve it”
5 The United Nations University itself is in the process of applying for ISO 14001 Certification, and this paper has benefited considerably from the experience.
6 The uniqueness of the ISO 14000 series lies in its targeting any organization that has an impact on the local (and hence global) environment – and sets out voluntary standards to be implemented by that organization, including external verification and evaluation.
7 This is particularly true for different sections of an urban government that is responsible for different activities – intercommunication and integration becomes important for a good and effective EMS.
8 Environmental aspects are those elements of an organization's activities, products, services or physical resources that may have potentially beneficial or harmful effects on the environment. These may include discharges and emissions, raw materials and energy use, waste recycling, noise, dust, and visual pollution.
9 Registrars are firms and organizations licensed and mandated to issue ISO 14001 certificates by the International Standards Organization