Transforming Management Practices; Applying European Environmental Management Approaches in a Thai Context - Session Overview
Theo De Bruijn, University of Twente, Netherlands
This workshop builds on a joint European/Asian project. The aim of the project is to improve the institutional and technical competencies of Thai environ-mental professionals and managers in industry and local regulating authorities. The measures and materials are developed from studies of how the application of European environmental management approaches affects the ability of the Thai professionals to develop coherent environmental approaches and secure a continued focus on the most relevant environmental issues. The intellectual aim of the project is to identify measures to consolidate the institutional and technical environmental competen-cies of Thai professionals in industry and local authorities. Justification of the project: Several Asian countries like Thailand are in rapid transition from traditional agricultural based econo-mies towards increasingly dependency on manufacturing industry located in and around urban areas. Following the industrialisation these countries experience a number of the environmental and social problems that have emerged from industrialisation in European countries. But at the same time, the situation is very different from what was experienced in Europe as the social and economic transfor-mation of the Thai society is proceeding at much higher speed and in a completely different global business climate and under different political conditions. While there is an already established formal environmental legislation with standards that parallel the European situation, the business cultures and the environmental awareness and practical experiences are quite different. In the earlier industri-alised countries the creation of political institutions and public awareness has been going on for a longer period of time and with less economic pressures from international markets. However, due to lack of awareness and local implemen-tation and enforcement procedures in the public administration, the established environmental legislation is not effective in protecting the environment. In this situation where the environment is endangered from industrialisation and urban growth, environmental man-agement systems (EMS) such as ISO 14000 in industry appear as a necessary, but also supplemen-tary way to address pollution and waste handling problems. ISO 14000 will in different cultural, local or national settings lead companies to approach environ-mental topics in a variety of ways and adapt their own management strategies to address environ-mental issues. The ability of companiesí management systems to promote environmental performance relies to a large extent on the competencies of the environmental professionals in authorities, compa-nies, consultants and NGOs involved in the local setting and their ability to establish coherent actions concerning environmental protection. Thus, an improvement in the environmental performance of companies and in the state of the environment in general is not consolidated through the mere adop-tion of EMS. This new management tool is dependent of the support from a network of competent professionals. The aim of this project is to use the European experiences to help identify barriers to strengthen the environmental competencies of this network in Thailand