In simple terms, Environmental Risk can be described as all actual or potential threats to environmental resources. This risk category is largely a result of resource consumption, effluents, emissions, wastes, resource depletion, etc., arising out of an organization’s (and/or individual) activities.
With a focus on organizations, planning is critical to determining environmental risk as well as actions needed to address them.
Organizations should have processes in place to determine environmental risk by understanding;
1. Environmental aspects (interactions with the environment),
2. Compliance obligations, and
3. Needs and expectations of interested parties.
Environmental risks can affect any organizations and its ability to achieve its intended business outcomes.
Common pitfalls in managing environmental risk:
• No control of Environmental aspects: lack of environmental controls can make organizational activities impact negatively on the environment. This also results in business risk due to the apparent mismanagement of resources.
• Non-fulfillment of environmental compliance obligations: Many organizations do not consider compliance until the issuance of a demand notice or fine. Though many environmental fines are insignificant in terms of cost, how about cost of “time wasted”, reputation and court cases?
• Little or no consideration of the views, needs and expectation of interested parties: are you aware of the perception/expectations of your stakeholders on your organizations environmental performance?
• Poor preparation for environmental emergencies: Identification of potential environmental incidences as well as preparedness for emergency is key to managing environmental risk.
Although organizations are at liberty to choose environmental risk management approaches, a robust, credible and reliable environmental management system can support the long-term viability of an organization.
ISO 14001 is the international management system standard for environmental management.
Along with the scope and context of the organization, these risks are inputs that are considered in any environmental management system.
The management system approach to managing environmental risk provides a framework for organizations in a bid to fulfilling compliance obligations, environmental policy commitments and achieving its environmental objectives.