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Knowledge To Help Elevate Your Compliance

Towards an Environmental-First Assurance Framework

To meet the challenges of environment-first future organizations will need to establish modern compliance systems to assure environmental policies are implemented across all their operational business units, divisions, and departments.

In this post we outline a policy management approach based on ISO 14000 that provides the means to align and coordinate environmental commitments flowing from an organization's environmental policy across all of its operations. This framework consists of three primary functions:

  1. Policy Development

  2. Policy Deployment

  3. Policy Implementation

Environment-First Assurance Framework - Based on ISO 14000

1. Policy Development

The purpose of policy development is to create and maintain an overarching operational environmental policy to direct and govern environmental performance across the enterprise.

This begins by taking inventory of both regulatory requirements along with voluntary commitments. These obligations provide overall direction, industry and regulatory targets, and objectives covering aspects associated with:

  1. Board Priorities

  2. Strategy and Plans

  3. Laws and Regulations

  4. Assets / Operations

  5. Stakeholder Concerns

Using this information organizations are then able to set appropriate organizational outcomes, direction, and goals commensurate with the level of commitment and operational risk, all of which are used to establish an overarching policy.

This policy is "operational" in nature as it defines specific commitments for the organization bridging the gap between intention and action.

2. Policy Deployment

Once an operational environmental policy is created it will need to be deployed across existing operations, departments, and services. Policy deployment keeps the organization on track and from drifting away from its environmental obligations.

To be effective policy commitments must be operationalized into internal systems, processes, and procedures. This is assurance-by-design which when done well decreases the need for excessive inspections and audits. It also holds operations accountable for its environmental performance.

The operationalization of environmental commitments is captured in individual deployment plans for each divisions, department and service.

3. Policy Implementation

Each business unit, division or department will implement their individual environmental policy deployment plan and evaluate their progress.

Assurance is improved by evaluating performance and engaging in continual improvement which although required more with voluntary obligations is increasingly becoming the norm for regulatory requirements.

Establishing a modern environmental assurance framework will help organizations do what they say and say what they do when it comes to meeting their environmental, social, and governance obligations (ESG).

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