University of Port Harcourt

ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems: Constraints to, and Strategies for Compliance by corporations in Developing Countries (Nigeria)

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Courtesy of University of Port Harcourt


One of the ways of limiting environmental liabilities resulting from the utilization of the resources of the environment for wealth creation is through the improvement of environmental performance of corporations. Therefore, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems provides a framework for achieving this goal. In other words implementing Environmental Management Systems that would conform to the ISO 14001 series would help firms integrate environmental values into their business operations and reduce liabilities. This paper therefore investigates the constraints inherent with the implementation of the ISO 14001 EMS by corporations in Nigeria and proffers probable strategies for implementation and compliance.

It is a truism that there has been a progressive loss or reduction in the quality of our physical environment as well as human health since the industrial revolution in the 19th century. In other words, the quality of human health and life expectancy has drastically reduced in recent times due to man’s industrial activities which negatively alter the quality of the environment. Industrial activities over the years have operated with “Business as Usual” attitude, in effect, since the sole aim of every business venture is profit maximization, business operators have carried out their operations without due regards to the consequences of their operations on the physical environments.

However, in recent times, there has been the realization that if business continues as usual, then our fate in this fragile space craft (the earth) shall be doomed in the nearest future. Thus, there has been emphasis on sustainable development which is built and the tripod of Business Profitability, Environmental Protection and Social Justice/Equity. While human activities aim at profit maximization, the quality of the environment where these activities take place must not be taken for granted and there is the need for social justice and equity. With this, we in this generation can live healthy in a quality environment and leave for posterity an environment rich in quality and full of opportunities. 

Against this background, every society is expected to continually improve its environmental performance in order to limit the amount of ecological damages in the quest for profit maximization. It therefore becomes imperative that businesses must play their roles in achieving the goal of Sustainable Development. To this end, Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) becomes one of the most veritable tools available for the realization of vision and mission of making the organizations more environmentally proactive and efficient.

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