Environmental Management: it’s Characteristics and Objectives of Environmental Management!
Environmental management is the process of allocating natural and man-made resources so as to make optimum use of the environment in satisfying not only the present basic human needs but of the coming generations also.
This management implies an element of conscious choice from a variety of alternative proposals and furthermore that such a choice involves purposeful commitment to recognised and desired objectives.
Environmental management is not merely a management of environment but it is essentially the management of various activities with intolerable constraints imposed by the environment itself and with full consideration of ecological factors. Thus, it involves environmental planning, conservation of resources, environmental status evaluation, and environmental legislation and administration.
The focus of environmental management is on implementation, monitoring and auditing; on practice and coping with real-world issues, rather than theoretical planning. A close integration with environmental planning is desirable.
Thus, as stated earlier, environmental management is a field of study dedicated to understanding human-environment interactions and the application of science and common-sense to solving problems.
The characteristic features of the environmental management are:
1. It deals with a world affected by humans;
2. It supports sustainable development;
3. It demands a multidisciplinary approach;
4. It has to integrate different development viewpoints;
5. It concerns with short-term and long-term planning as well as from local to global scale; and
6. It seeks to integrate natural and social science, policy making and planning.
During the last three decades too much awareness has been developed regarding environmental protection and quality of life. The dictionary of environment is renewed regularly with new terminologies like clean technology, environmental auditing, environment-friendly products, environmental impact assessment, environmental resource conservation, etc., added.
But all these aspects have been converged when the wider concept of environmental management has been emerged and also accepted as a tool for sustainable development. Environmental management, as defined in Goudie (1994), “provides resources from the bioenvironmental systems of the planet but simultaneously tries to retain sanative, life-supporting ecosystems. It is therefore an attempt to harmonise and balance the various enterprises for his own benefit.”
Time has now come when our policy makers as well as society should aim to protect, conserve and regulate the development in such a way that it will not create any adverse effect on ecosystem and needs of the people can also be fulfilled.
Throughout the world, particularly in developing countries, these are an urgent need for the management of the total environment.
In the first instance environ- mental management must do three things:
(i) Identify goals;
(ii) Establish whether these can be met, and
(iii) Develop and implement means to do what it deems possible. A simple scheme for environmental management has been depicted in Figure 1.2.
Thus, environmental management is an approach which integrates ecology, policy making, planning and social development.
Its main objectives include:
1. To prevent and solve environmental problems;
2. To establish limits;
3. To develop research institutions and monitoring systems;
4. To warn threats and identify opportunities;
5. To suggest measures for resource conservation;
6. To develop a strategy for the improvement of quality of life;
7. To suggest long-term and short-term policies for sustainable development; and
8. To identify new technology for sustainable development.
In brief, environmental management is necessary for environmental planning which implies the optimal utilisation of the earth’s resources and preservation of the quality of environment for the healthy growth of society.
The term ‘sustainable development’ was first used at the time of the Cocoyoc Declaration on Environment and Development in early 1970. Since then, it has become a matter of great concern not only to the international and national organisations but also to the policy makers.
In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development has published a report Our Common Future emphasising the need for sustainable development and defined it as: “Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Others refer to it as “improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying of the supporting ecosystem”.
Now, sustainable development, also referred as ‘eco-development’, has been accepted as a concept of development by all the nations of the world. Agenda 21, adopted in the UNCED (3-14 June, 1992) at Rio de Janeiro, is a programmer of action for sustainable development, also known as ‘Rio Declaration’ on Environment and Development.