In the last decades the environment in which we live and the civil society itself have had an impressive evolution, which poses crucial challenges for our very survival. The impact of human activities on natural resources and the exponential growth of the human population have led to climate change, scarcity of natural resources (such as drinking water), pollution and the loss of biodiversity.
It all began from the indiscriminate spraying, in the years immediately after World War II, of DDT to improve crop yields and control malaria: while the benefits for the populations were exceptional, several animal species have come to the brink of extinction due to the impact of DDT on their reproductive cycles.
The fact had a great echo in public opinion thanks also to the book “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, published just 50 years ago (1962), which marked the birth of Environmentalism in the United States, leading to the creation of EPA in 1970, and the development of modern “environmental engineering”: nowadays it is clear to everyone that engineering solutions to environmental problems, to be truly effective, demand a complete understanding of the environment in which all species live.
How much the Earth’s climate changed in the past and how it will change in the future? What influence will have on our ecosystem macro-phenomena such as global warming or albedo (i.e. the amount of shortwave radiation reflected from the Earth back into space) alteration of our planet? To which extent the quality of the air we breathe is influenced by local pollution and away? How can we effectively use microorganisms to produce biofuels, plastics and chemicals or eliminate toxic waste? These are some of the challenges now facing scientists, researchers and decision makers …
Environmental Protection aims at protecting the natural environment in which we live (at individual, organizational or governmental levels) for the benefit of both the natural environment and humans.
The key to control the Organization’s environmental impact is the Environmental Management System: to implement an EMS top management should above all make clear its intentions by writing and disseminating throughout the Organization and its stakeholders an Environmental Policy, stating the awareness of possible impacts and their relative importance. Then the management should define and pursue a number of environmental objectives and track performance trends over time through appropriate KPI (Key Performance Indicators), to be assessed by periodic Audits and Management reviews.
Due to growing environmental awareness, more organizations are now under scrutiny from investors or the civil society itself: hence the need to visibly report the Organization’s businesses impact on the Environment. The EU has defined a scheme for this purpose (the EMAS III) that a constantly growing number of organizations are adopting: EMAS’ core objective is to guide organizations to improve their environmental performance and report measurable results in a standardized way. Six environmental core indicators have been identified by EU, covering environmental key areas and direct environmental aspects. To enter the EMAS register the Organization should issue an Environmental Statement which must include defined reference values in order to demonstrate over time improvements in its environmental performances.