Guide to Environmental Sustainability Leadership

The globally accepted framework for environmental sustainability – ISO 14001:2015 – has a key change from the 2004 version. The new standard requires top management to demonstrate leadership and commitment to the environmental management system.

Digging deeper, we see that clause 5 of the ISO 14001:2015 is a significant innovation as this clause provides guidance needed by organisations in demonstrating leadership and commitment in relation to the environmental sustainability processes. As this is one of the new clauses in the recent high-level structure of all management systems, this clause cuts across all management systems in all disciplines.

In all honesty, this is a unique opportunity to enhance the environmental sustainability system and place the SUSTAINABILITY role at the center of business.

ISO 14001:2015 defines top management as:

“a person or group of people who directs and controls an organisation at the highest level”.

No longer would a “management rep” need to be appointed and the standard states that top management must take accountability for the “effectiveness of the EMS.”

This key requirement of the environmental sustainability framework sets the tone for the whole management system. It is important to note that if the defined scope of an environmental management system is limited to a particular function or section of the organisation, top management will therefore be those who direct and control that particular function or section.

Early implementers and forward-thinking leaders in organisations that have effective environmental sustainability systems are seen to be performing the following (even beyond the systems audit):

• Demonstrating leadership commitment via accountability and active support,
• Ensuring an environmental policy around material issues is established,
• Integrating environmental objectives with core business strategy,
• Outlining roles, responsibilities, resources and authorities for environmental sustainability processes,
• Promoting process approach, risk-based thinking and ensuring continual improvement.

Top Management can demonstrate leadership commitment by:

• Incorporating an environmental sustainability committee;
• Attending and leading environmental sustainability committee meetings;
• Encourage continual improvement and ensure this culture exists as a result of leadership;
• Publish articles and period newsletters relating to environmental performance and environmental management practices internally within the organisation;
• Encouraging employees and other relevant interested parties in improving environmental performance
• Involvement in internal audits of the environmental systems and processes;
• Allocating adequate budgets for environmental initiatives and training;
• Setting and communicating environmental objectives and intended outcomes of the system.

In conclusion, leadership commitment and visible environmental responsibility from top management are critical for the success of environmental sustainability systems and for the achievement of its intended outcomes.



AFSIA: Bringing hope for a bright solar future

Africa is paving the way to a bright solar future driven by a conviction: solar energy is the best ally to support our continent’s growth.

AFSIA (Africa Solar Industry Association) is your go-to platform for anything solar across Africa.

Being a member of AFSIA gives you the following benefits:

  • Access to database of projects classified in different categories
  • The latest tenders in the region and related documents
  • Discount to attend industry events
  • Speaking slots & opportunities
  • White-papers and research reports on topics related to solar technology policies
  • High-level and focused networking opportunities
  • Exposure to key stakeholders in both the public and private sector

Below is a list of Supporting Members who are also leaders in their respective field of solar across Africa:

JinkoSolar is a global leader in the solar industry with an integrated annual capacity of 8 GW for silicon ingots and wafers, 5 GW for solar cells, and 8 GW for solar modules.

Sterling and Wilson started with its solar EPC business in the year 2011 and has a portfolio of over 6 GWp of projects at various stages of implementation across 25 countries.

BBOXX is a next-generation utility platform, powering growth and transforming lives in developing countries. We are generating impact by improving customers’ quality of life through provision of affordable, clean energy solutions

DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions is the leading supplier of specialty materials to the solar energy industry, with a portfolio of products with over 40 years of service that deliver proven power and lasting value for the fast-growing photovoltaic sector.

A leading international law firm recognised by Acritas as a Global Elite Law Firm, Eversheds-Sutherland regularly advise on billion dollar deals and high profile cases on behalf of the world’s most powerful corporations and financial institutions.

Visit us at AFSIASOLAR to find out more about our programs, exclusive content and benefits of becoming a member