On 25 November 2010, the International Conference on EMAS: Towards a Resource Efficient Economy took place in the Paul-Henri Spaak building of the European Parliament in Brussels. The event was jointly organised by the European Commission, DG Environment, the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Be-Smarter project.
Around 250 participants were able to choose between two parallel workshops in the morning and in the afternoon. A side event on biodiversity indicators took place during the lunch break. High-profile speakers, including senior government officials, environmental experts and business and civil society leaders from all over Europe as well international guests from Australia, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America informed the participants about the latest developments in environmental management and explored how EMAS supports organisations in improving their environmental and financial performance.
The official tripartite welcome speech by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Belgian Presidencyemphasised the vital role of EMAS to contribute to resource efficiency. Isabelle Durant, Vice-president of the European Parliament in charge of EMAS, informed the participants about the central role that EMAS plays for the European Parliament, which is registered to the scheme since 2007, in improving its environmental performance. Karl Falkenberg, Director-General of DG Environment, emphasised the importance of EMAS to promote sustainable production patterns. For Jose Renard, General Inspector for the Wallonian Ministry of Agriculture at the Department of European Policies, the Conference is a good opportunity to exchange good practices and experiences on how to increase resource and energy efficiency. He emphasised that EMAS and environmental protection play an important role for the Belgian Presidency and Belgian public administrations.
The following presentations have been discussed:
Session1: Capacity Building for EMAS and EMAS Cluster Applications
Session 2: EMAS and Resource Efficiency and Energy Efficiency Issues
SIDE EVENT ON BIODIVERSITY INDICATORS AND EMAS
Session 3: Key Performance Indicators and Sectoral Applications for EMAS
Session 4: EMAS Global
EMAS is the premium benchmark for environmental management that meets the needs of businesses and public bodies – today and in the future.
There was broad agreement among speakers and participants that EMAS is an important instrument to improve an organisation’s environmental and financial performance and also to promote the wider goal of sustainable production as outlined by the European Commission.
The case studies on resource and energy efficiency clearly revealed that a business case for EMAS can be made in that it is a valuable tool for organisations to increase their resource and energy efficiency. This applies to all types of organisations – from SMEs to multinational corporations and public bodies.
In order to further improve the performance of registered organisations and to further improve the applicability of the scheme, the introduction of environmental core indicators with EMAS III is of major significance. The six environmental core indicators help organisations measure their environmental impact and improve their performance. In this context, the sectoral reference documents currently prepared by the European Commission will provide valuable support to organisations, since they include best practice techniques, indicators, benchmarks and supporting data. Nevertheless, organisations are encouraged to develop additional indicators to measure and benchmark their performance. A methodology for KPIs that can be used to build robust indicators has be presented.
Moreover, the conference showed that the benefits of EMAS can be reaped by all types of organisations all over the world. The EMAS Easy methodology and the cluster approaches have proven to be excellent ways for small and micro-businesses to achieve EMAS registration in a short and manageable time frame. Additionnaly, EMAS Global will widen the scope of the scheme by opening it to non-EU organisations and EU organisations operating in third countries. The European Commission is preparing guidelines to support Member States, verifiers and organisations to start using this valuable new element of the scheme.
Finally, the side event on biodiversity illustrated that concern for biodiversity issues can be translated to EMAS registered public organisations and Green Public Procurement issues.
We would like to thank all chairmen, speakers and rapporteurs for their support and contribution and also all participants for their interest in EMAS and the Conference.
We look forward to meet and discuss with you at the next EMAS Conference!