n Journal of Public Administration - Utilising environmental management systems to address municipal sustainable development




The , 1996 places an obligation on municipalities to satisfy basic needs and to promote the social and economic development of local communities. For this developmental role to occur, municipalities often act as developers when providing services such as housing, roads and sanitation. These activities may have environmental impacts that need to be managed in such a way that resources are used optimally and not at the expense of both present and future generations. An environmental management system (EMS) is that aspect of a municipal institution's overall management structure and arrangements that addresses the immediate and longterm impact of its activities, products and services on the environment. The EMS can thus be seen as an important tool that can be used by municipalities to obtain the sustainable utilisation of resources for the purposes of programme and project execution in such a way that socio-economic development does take place, but in a way that is not destructive to the environment.

This article pursues the objective of sustainability within the context of how an environmental management system (such as ISO14001) may be utilised as a tool to promote development within municipalities. To demonstrate this, the experiences of the Mangaung Local Municipality in the Free State, are shared to describe the process followed to implement such a system at the local government sphere.


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