Integrated approaches to environmental sustainability

These case studies were developed to assist practitioners and academics in understanding the relationships between environmental management systems, external environmental reporting, stakeholder engagement and drivers of organisational change leading to improved environmental performance. Together they provide guidance for organisational participants in making choices about the development and integration of systems and processes designed to assist decision-making, leading to improved environmental performance. They provide organisations with an opportunity to learn from others’ approaches, successes and failures.

Through an examination of internal and publicly available documents and interviews with key organisational staff conducted between 2005 and 2007, a number of questions were addressed.

  • How are companies approaching the development and formalisation of their environmental management systems (EMS)?
  • How does the commitment to stakeholder engagement influence the development of an EMS and external reporting?
  • Does the existence of an EMS and a commitment to stakeholder engagement lead to decision-making aimed at improving environmental performance?
  • Who is delegated responsibility for development of environmental management/reporting?
  • What reference points are utilised to develop an understanding of what should be included in the environmental report?
  • What is the involvement of the board of directors and key stakeholders in the development of environmental management/reporting?

We studied six Australian companies: two manufacturing companies (Civil Constructions and Plastic Solutions), two mining companies (National Miner and Local Miner) and two water companies (Capital Water and Driland Water). All of these organisations have both significant and diverse environmental impacts and associated stakeholder engagement and, as such, we might reasonably expect them to be choosing from the current best practices.