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The concept of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) may seem complex and strange. It may seem abstract and far removed from the realities of your day-to-day business. However all businesses operate within the environment and interact with it in whatever small way. Understanding and managing those interactions and impacts is becoming mandatory for many industries and depending on the (high-value) markets and customers you seek. In other words, it is becoming a differentiator that sets apart the best-prepared and best-performing businesses able to capture the most valuable markets.

However, it is not something that is hard to implement. A solid understanding and the right factors in hand will help you design and implement a successful system.  Here we present details of EMS that have been implemented in local organizations. A few aspects of an EMS will be revealed through these examples.

Environmental Strategies that can be adopted by a local Bank:

  • Energy-saving through exploring energy-efficient lighting solutions and alternative energy sources
  • Reducing paper waste through reducing paper consumption and promoting recycling whenever possible and practical
  • Carbon footprint calculation process to track our performance and benchmark our progress against our peers in the industry
  • Sustainable lending or Green Loans such as lending to the NCRE (Non-Conventional Renewable Energy) sector and green energy loan scheme for individuals
  • Engaging customers through enabling them to migrate towards more eco-friendly business practices 
  • Environmental CSR projects to identify and address critical ecological challenges that are likely to cause destruction to the natural composition of air, water or the earth. 

Social Strategies Adopted by the Bank 

  • Adopting a 360-degree sustainability matrix that begins with a stakeholder engagement mechanism where key sustainability trends are identified, while opportunities and threats arising therefrom are determined. 
  • Using a socially responsive CSR Model that addresses broader systemic issues and socio-economic challenges that affect communities. 
  • The Bank is guided by the Millennium Development Goals and the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, both part of UNDP’s development road map for Sri Lanka. 
  • The Bank aims to bring about positive change across a broader community demographic through a socially responsive CSR model. 
  • Transparency and good governance, community engagement and employee volunteerism.

Recommendations to establish an effective EMS in government institutions in Sri Lanka

  • Proper training on establishing EMS should be given to all relevant employees of government sector institutions and full knowledge about ISO 14001, including how to set up an environmental policy and its achievement under the guidance of ISO 14001 models.
  • When planning environmental policy, necessary components should be included such as prevention of various types of pollution, compliance with relevant laws and regulations, continual improvement etc., and it should be published to relevant all internal and outside people.
  • Proper environmental task groups should be created to include various positions of the organizational structure of institutions.
  • Continuous audits and reviews on implementation of its EMS should be done periodically at the proper time.
  • Establishing a post of environmental officer for each institution should be done to coordinate all environmental programmes.
  • The attitude of employees should be improved to protect and conserve the environment of the institution while considering it a part of his or her duty of the bearing post (based on an academic study conducted by Gunawardena & Jayawickrama, 2015)

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