The best approach to environmental management is an integrated approach in which all the components of the environment are taken into consideration and its proper management, as a whole, is done.
While doing so, the following aspects should be taken into account:
1. Perception and awareness of environment:
(a) Source of perception and awareness,
(b) Level of perception, and
(c) Role of perception in environmental planning.
2. Environmental education and training:
(a) At school, college and university levels,
(b) Through media, and
(c) At research and training institutes.
3. Resource management:
(a) Classification of natural resources,
(b) Survey and evaluation of eco-resources,
(c) Conservation of energy, mineral, forest, soil and water resources, and
(d) Proper utilisation of human resources.
4. Environmental impact assessment:
(a) Assessment of present conditions,
(b) Assessment of the impact of industrial and technological developments,
(c) Assessment of the efforts done for eco-balance, and
(d) Development of eco-friendly techniques.
5. Control over environmental degradation and pollution:
(a) Purification of degraded environment,
(b) Pollution control,
(c) Monitoring, and
(d) Forecasting of natural hazards and to minimise the losses.
There are two approaches of managing the environment, viz.:
(i) Preservative approach, and (ii) conservative approach. According to the first approach, man should not disturb the natural system and should adapt to it. But this is not possible because for all types of developmental activities he will have to use nature and its components, resulting in eco-imbalance of varied intensity.
The conservative approach is that there should not be overexploitation of nature and conservation of natural resources is essential for sustainable development.
In fact, proper utilisation and conservation of resources is the prime objective of environmental management. In the World Conservation Strategy (1980), the three main objectives stated were: the maintenance of essential ecological processes, the preservation of genetic diversity, and the sustainable utilisation of natural resources.
In recent years, several approaches have been developed for the management of environment. Regional planners often adopt a human ecology approach, while other planners suggest a system analysis or an ecosystem approach. Doxiadis (1977) has developed a science of planning settlement in balance with nature and termed it as ekistics.
The various approaches developed for the environmental management are:
(i) Ad hoc approach-, developed in reaction to a specific situation.
(ii) Problem-solving approach: for identification of problems and needs and implement solutions.
(iii) Systems approach: such as ecosystem, agro-ecosystem, etc. Regional approach: based on ecological zones such as watershed, river basin, coastal zone, command area development, island, etc.
(iv) Specialist discipline approach, often adopted by professionals for air, water and land management, urban management, tourism management, and environmental health.
(v) Voluntary sector approach encouraged and supported by NGOs.
(vi) Commercial approach: for environmental management for business.
(vii) Human ecology approach-, for study of relations between humans or society and nature.
(viii) Political ecology approach-, to develop policies and laws.
Apart from the above, an environmental management system (EMS) approach has been developed as an integrated and proactive approach to environmental issues.
It helps industry or other bodies and is designed to ensure that an environmental policy and environmental objectives are adopted and followed. Figure 4.1 illustrates a basic EMS approach developed by Hunt and Johnson (1995).
Thus, the EMS system approach helps to:
1. develop a proactive environment approach;
2. ensure a balanced view across all functions;
3. enable effective, directed environmental goal setting; and
4. Make the environmental auditing process effective.
The ecosystem concept has become a widely used conceptual tool for research after 1945. Nowadays, ecologists often adopt an ecosystem approach when seeking to understand and monitor a given situation. The ecosystem concept allows the environmental managers to look at portions of complex nature as an integrated system. It may be applied to cities or agriculture (urban ecosystems and agro-ecosystems respectively).
The ecosystem approach allows a holistic view of how components work together, in other words, it can incorporate human dimensions into biosphere functioning. It also helps define the temporal and spatial scale of management, and thus, is a multidisciplinary approach in order to deal with complexities of ecosystem function and usage.
Human Ecology Approach:
Human ecology is the study of relations between humans or society and nature, through a multidisciplinary approach. Similar to that of ecosystem approach, the main emphasis in this approach is on social relationship with environment which is a primary aspect of any management for planning and development. The scale of approach may be local to global, and it supports holistic study.
The concept of ‘Social Impact Assessment’ (SIA) seeks to assess whether a proposed development alters quality of life and sense of well-being and how individuals, groups and communities will adopt to change caused by development.
The socio-economic and biophysical aspects of the environment are interconnected, therefore, for environmental management; human ecology approach should be adopted along with political ecology approach.
Political Ecology Approach:
Political ecology also studies relationships between society and nature. It holds that radical changes in human habits are required in order to counter environmental degradation and achieve sustainable development.
These are likely to be different perceptions of environmental needs and problems between planners, policy makers, ministers, various departments of government, etc. All this can be effectively done by adopting political ecological approach of environment management.
Nowadays, there has been an increasing emphasis on environmental management for business as well as role of business houses in environmental protection.
The emphasis is on:
1. green corporate environmental management;
2. green business ethics;
4. impact assessment, hazard and risk assessment;
5. green marketing, labelling;
6. recycling and waste disposal;
7. environmentally sound investment and funding; and
8. Total quality management.
The commercial approach involves corporate priority, employee education, customer advice, transfer of technology, prior assessment, facilities and operations, research and compliance and reporting.