From Environmental Management Systems to Sustainability Management Systems in Swedish Local Authorities
Sara Emilsson,

Linköping University,

58183 Linköping,

Swedenphone: +46 13 286602, +46 736 209439
e-mail: sara.emilsson@liu.se


Olof Hjelm

Linköping University

58183 Linköping

SwedenPhone: +46 285647, +46 733 885647
e-mail: olof.hjelm@liu.se

Many Swedish local authorities have long experiences from using standardised Environmental Management Systems (EMSs). We have studied the EMS development in Swedish local authorities during many years and we have seen a clear trend that the local authorities tend to extend their EMSs by widening the scope of the systems. The purpose of this paper is to study strategies and approaches that are important for the local authorities’ development of EMSs to Sustainability Management Systems (SMSs). Often in the beginning of the EMS process, the systems are rather narrow in their scope, mainly focusing on issues such as energy use, waste management and transportation. Newly implemented systems are also often limited to include the local authority’s own organisation and are the concern mainly of the environmental co-ordinator. Among the positive effects from implementing EMSs in local authorities is mentioned improved organisational structure and improved internal communication. Among those local authorities that have been successful in implementing EMSs, once the way of thinking has settled within the organisation, the systems are broadened to also include internal and external stakeholders. Furthermore, the scope of the systems is expanded to also include the social and economic perspective of sustainable development. The development trend towards sustainability management is not unique for local authorities; in industry the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility has become increasingly important over the last years. However, compared to industry, local authorities have a more extensive responsibility since they need to ensure both environmental and social security of their citizens. The paper explores how three of the most EMS experienced local authorities (that have rather different approaches) in Sweden have extended their EMSs to SMSs. The empirical evidence for this paper is based on case studies in these local authorities. The paper presents the different approaches and discusses barriers and good practice from the local authorities’ efforts towards sustainability management. It also discusses the general development towards sustainability management using systems theory.
Full Paper (.doc format, 123.0 kb)

9:00 AM-5:00 PM, Thursday, June 26, 2008, Oral

The Netherlands, 2008 Meeting