SD Features
Sustainability Education
Environmental Education and Universities in Japan: ISO14001 and EMS as a Catalyzing Force

Hari Srinivas
Policy Analysis Series E-134. March 2022

Abstract The starting point for this paper is the recent surge in the number of institutions and organization that are seeking ISO 14001 certification, and the consequent need to provide targeted and comprehensive information, knowledge and capacity to develop and manage an EMS.

The main objective of this paper is to explore the intersection of environmental management systems (EMSs) and the ISO 14001, with environmental education initiatives, in order to identify how each concept can assist in the implementation of the other.

Developing and implementing an EMS, particularly at a University not only enables a lighter impact on the local environment, but also build capacities and competencies within the university's set up that enables it to address the growing complexity and multidisciplinarity of societal needs with respect to managing the environment.

The paper attempts to demonstrate the viability of EMSs and ISO14001 certification process to build capacities and competencies that will broaden the scope of university's role in societal development, particularly on the issue of environmental education.

The paper also makes several recommendations on the frameworks and strategies that need to be put in place in order to achieve these capacities and competencies.

I. Introduction


uch attention has recently been placed on the environment locally and globally. This has happened as a result of not only the effects of human lifestyles and consumption patterns that we have adopted, but also as a result of the realization that environmental issues are inherently complex and require a concerted and coordinated effort in mitigating and managing it. This is particularly true for Japan. While Japan can justifiably be proud of the economic development rates and levels it has achieved in becoming a high-income OECD country, it has lacked in understanding and acting on the impacts that this growth has had on the environment - both locally (in terms of the wastes and pollutants generated) as well as remotely (in terms of resources consumed [1]).

The recent criticality attributed to the local environment in Japan stems from three key trends, viz. (a) increasing and unintended pollution of the environment from the high industrial growth periods of the 60s and 70s, (b) more recent urban lifestyles and resource consumption patterns that are essentially unsustainable and places a heavy burden on the local environment - both in production and in disposal of wastes, and (c) increased awareness of global environmental trends generated as a result of UN and other international events [2] and Japan's own growing presence in the global arena.

Further downstream, as a result of the above trends, we see a trend towards more localization, where people have started to look more closely at the environment around them, and the resources that they can draw from it, as well as the impacts of their lifestyles.

As residents of cities and towns have begun to understand the impact of environmental phenomena on their daily lives - man-made, more than natural - they have searched hard for its causes and effects, and tried to understand the institutions and processes that are responsible for the environmental impacts and the action that is needed for its mitigation. This can be termed as the 3As - Awareness, Assessment, and Action. Increased awareness of environmental trends, both causes and effects, of daily actions and processes on our daily lives, has necessitated assessments of the needs, frameworks, resources and actors, that will have to come together to work towards a better environment as a common goal, which has led to concerted and coordinated action being implemented at all levels of governance, from local to global.

Underlying the three As has been trends towards greater participation and partnership, stronger information dissemination, transparent decision-making processes, monitoring and evaluation, along with feedback loops etc.

But these trends still raise a more fundamental issue - that of a more formalized, but holistic and multi-pronged process of education in the civil society targeted at managing the local and global environment.

II. The Status of Environmental Education in Japan


nvironmental education in Japan took off in 1940s, initially focusing primarily on pollution issues. Then, the focus of environmental education programmes shifted towards nature conservation, and sustainability issues, by looking at the environment from a variety of aspects, including political, economic, social, historical, cultural, and scientific aspects.

Recent surveys and studies on environmental education in Japan [3], has outlined the following characteristics of environmental education that clearly calls for its upgradation to more effective levels.

Environmental education in Japan has been piecemeal - there has not been an overarching holistic framework to implement environmental education initiatives at different levels of the society. Most environmental education activities have limited itself to events such as nature walks, exhibitions, competitions, or lectures, without a long-term multi-dimensional/multi-disciplinary approach to awareness building and action.

Environmental education has remained primarily and predominantly extracurricular - most of the activities related to the environment, particularly school and university based activities, have remained outside the regular formal curriculum that is carried out during the free time of students. These have included eco-clubs, clean-up programmes, exhibitions and competitions etc.

Environmental education in Japan has predominantly focused only on the natural and ecological aspects of the environment, without attention being paid to the man-made aspects of local environmental phenomena. Lifestyle and consumption issues that greatly impact the local environment has not been adequately covered in environmental education initiatives (there has however been an increasing trend in focusing on waste generation and management issues at the community and urban levels).

Environmental education in Japan has also been characterized as detached, with little interlinkages with other groups and stakeholders in the community and city. Considering the multidisciplinarity of environmental issues, linking issues (for example, peace, human rights, health etc.), stakeholders, resources and themes are critical for a more holistic and comprehensive understanding of the issues, but this has not happened.

There is a clear and compelling need in Japan to upgrade, enhance and make environmental education more inclusive. At a brainstorming session of the Fullbright Memorial Fund [4], the following issues were raised, particularly in relation to school-based environmental education, which has implications for a broader policy/programme on environmental education:

  • Need to work on environmental issues at appropriate level/scale with the appropriate message, but extrapolating to the global and intrapolating to the local levels.
  • SEE-DO-LISTEN and REPORT - the popular formula of SEE-DO-LISTEN need to be expanded to include REPORT, where views and lessons learnt are recorded and creatively shared among other groups and stakeholders. This also includes ACT - where understanding is converted to action.
  • It is important to identify and foster dedicated, committed, and interested resources persons, who willing to interact with the civil society and all age groups - from children to elders - to spark curiosity and action (online and offline).
  • Broad-based top-to-bottom support and facilitation (from governments to individual teachers to students) that plays a critical role in enhancing and broadening environmental education (See Box 1).
  • Environmental education needs to go beyond the blackboard and beyond the school, to encompass local businesses, libraries, the community and home itself, in a process of two-way interaction of giving-and-taking.
Box 1 Japan's Basic Environment Plan and Environmental Education

The Basic Environment Plan revised in 2000 by the Ministry of Environment states that the objectives of the environmental education are "to deepen the shared understanding on environmental issues by different stakeholders, raise awareness, enhance capacity to solve issues, create motivation and promote environmental concerns in pursuing activities by different stakeholders".

Recently, the direction of environmental education promoted by the Ministry has shifted from the pollution and nature education to the "education for sustainability", which aims at enhancing people's capacity to consider and analyze environmental issues from a variety of perspectives, and in an integrated manner. It is recommended by the Ministry that the environmental education programmes be provided in multi-settings (schools, communities, businesses, households, etc.), by multi-stakeholders (public sector, businesses, NGOs, etc.), by linking them to policies and activities of various stakeholders in integrated and coordinated ways.

Source: Journal "Kankyo Kaigi - Environmental Conference", January 2001.

Environmental education at elementary, junior high, and high school levels in Japan is currently at a turning point with the initiation of "Comprehensive Learning Programme - SOGOGAKUSHU" in 2002. The new programme is expected to allow schools to provide educational programmes to cover themes that require integration of different subjects, such as international affairs, information, welfare, and environment.

However, the discussions and initiatives for promoting environmental education in Japan have been relatively limited to the elementary, junior high, and high school levels, and not much focus has been made on promotion of environmental education at the university level. Furthermore, there is the recognition that there has not been sufficient cooperation and coordination among different governmental agencies in promoting environmental education at the university level.

III. Need to Improve Environmental Education in Japanese Universities, in order to Address the Needs of the Society


t is only recent that efforts and discussions on streamlining environmental education in Japan have started to focus on the role that universities need to play in addressing and meeting the broader needs of the society. Reality education - providing the students of a university with decision-making capacities and capabilities that will enable them to tackle environmental problems in the real world, while working with various local stakeholders (the local government, citizens groups, business and industry groups, NGOs/NPOs etc.) - has become an important priority.

Furthermore, there has been a growing realization within Japanese society of the need for universities to go beyond producing students-with-degrees to producing enlightened-citizens-with-core-competencies that can help them meet needs and demands of the larger society. Understanding the changing and dynamic needs of the society (specifically focused on environmental issues) is key to building a cadre of students who are conscious of sustaining the future.

Such broad-based environmental education in universities need to have the following characteristics:

  • Participation - to provide students with opportunities to be actively involved in exercising their skills of environmental citizenship and be actively involved at all levels in working towards sustainable development.

  • Knowledge - to help students gain a variety of experiences in, and a basic understanding of, the knowledge and action competencies required for sustainable development

  • Values - to help students acquire feelings of concern for issues of sustainability as well as a set of values upon which they can make judgments about appropriate ways of acting individually and with others to promote sustainable development

  • Skills - to help students acquire the action competence or skills of environmental citizenship - in order to be able to identify and anticipate environmental problems and work with others to resolve, minimize and prevent them

  • Awareness - to create an overall understanding of the impacts and effects of behaviours and lifestyles - on both the local and global environments, and on the short-term and long-term.

There have been discussions that an important factor for environmental education in universities is the structuring of knowledge and clarification of relationship among different subject areas. Therefore, environmental education in universities need to be effective in providing students with opportunities to analyze environmental issues from multiple perspectives: identify the linkages among different causes and finding the best solutions. One example of this is the Alliance for Global Sustainability, a joint research initiative of the University of Tokyo and MIT, where researchers and graduate students attempt to find solutions to reduce CO2 emissions in the Tokyo area by 50 percent, by combining various policy options from different subject areas (scientific, geographic, economic, political, etc.).

The key to enhance the position of environmental education in universities is to balance vertical and horizontal perspectives - the development and deepening expertise in a particular subject on one hand, and promotion of comprehensive understanding of issues (develop the skills to analyze the issues from multi perspectives) on the other. The current emphases in environmental education are not sufficient, in that it only provides 'doomsday warnings' to the society. However, environmental education for the future should focus on providing policy options / recommendations for various stakeholders in the society. The focus should be to bring in different options, discuss, and develop the overall vision of the society [5]. These issues are covered in depth later in the paper.

IV. Overview of Environmental Education


mplementation of any and every environmental policy, programme, project and plan requires the same critical common denominator - environmental education. Effective, timely and targeted environmental education lies at the core of operationalizing these paradigms, especially at the local level.

There has been a changing vocabulary in local environment management - from 'simple' concepts such as community participation, to expanded issues such as capacity building, informed consent, public choice, decision-making, awareness building, governance, decentralization, local autonomy, or information disclosure - placing increased pressure on environmental education delivery.

Environmental education, therefore needs to build understanding on the causes and effects, of positive and negative aspects, of global and local issues, of immediate and long-term issues, and of direct and indirect impacts.

Environmental education is becoming an important aspect of almost all aspects of our everyday lives. Every single action of activity, of every human, has a definite environmental impact - both positive/negative, and local/global, and hence awareness and education on mitigating the negative aspects.

Some of the features of current environmental educationprogrammes and activities include:

  • Lifelong learning - the potential for learning about sustainability throughout one's life exists both within formal and non-formal educational settings.

  • Interdisciplinary approaches - education for sustainability provides a unique theme to integrate content and issues across disciplines and curricula.

  • Systems thinking - learning about sustainability offers an opportunity to develop and exercise integrated systems approaches.

  • Partnerships - partnerships forged between educational institutions and the broader community are key to advancing education for sustainability.

  • Multicultural perspectives - achieving sustainability is dependent upon an understanding of diverse cultural perspectives and approaches to problem solving.

  • Empowerment - lifelong learning, interdisciplinary approaches, systems thinking, partnerships, and multicultural perspectives empower individuals and institutions to contribute to sustainability.
Worldwide, efforts in environmental education in general, have been broad and comprehensive. A quick analysis is presented below:

What kinds of organizations are doing environmental education?
A whole range of organizations in the public, private and 'popular' sectors are involved, using different messages to target different audiences. Examples include - local and national governments, private sector, academia, NGOs, professional bodies, research organizations, donor agencies, UN and international organizations, community and citizens groups, media etc.

Who are the target audience?
The target is usually the man-on-the-street, the ordinary citizen, but has also included policy and decision makers, business and industry etc. depending on the scale of environmental education.

What is the scale of operation?
The scale of environmental education changes from a single individual, a household, and a community - all the way to the nation, region, and globe depending on the message being sent out (Figure 1).

What is the message being disseminated?
Environmental education has dealt with many problems and issues, focusing on the need for change, for sustainability, for awareness etc. using different modes of delivery.

How is the message being delivered?
A whole variety of modes and media have been used (one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many), both online and offline to achieve different aims and effects. The Internet has particularly offered a big boost with the flexibility and versatility that it offered.

What is the intended effect?
The message has aimed to achieve a number of effects - less resource use, less waste, more energy saving, etc. and delivered by partnering with different intermediaries.

What intermediaries and partners are being used?
Each actor in the field of environmental education has partnered with others, depending on the issue - for funding, for information, for expertise, etc. Each partner has brought to the environmental education programme or project - essential skills, knowledge and resources not available with other partners.

The complexity of environmental issues in general needs to be constantly kept in mind in developing an environmental education policy or framework. In particular, for environmental education in universities, the following elements should be considered:

  • Ability to connect issues and understand the complexity, multidimensionality, and global nature of environmental issues - current educational programmes in universities focus on teaching "how to separate the objects of the environment, and the disciplines one from each other". These need to change to enable student to build interconnections and interlinkages.

  • Educating people who are capable of interpreting research findings in one field and linking them to those in other fields so their joint application is possible. It is critical for universities to make clear what outcome they are seeking, and attract and educate people who can apply the knowledge that has been accumulated at universities, in order to achieve the target outcome.

  • Educating active, engaged, informed, and competent citizens. It requires significant commitments by universities and research institutions, with a reformulation of the goals and objectives of education, and their integration into various curriculum structures, as well as involvement of various stakeholders in the processes.
The above mentioned elements show the criticality for universities to enhance their capacities and competencies to provide appropriate environmental capacity building for the society in more strategic and efficient ways, and it is where ISO14001 could play an important role.

V. Overview of Environmental Management Systems and ISO14001


he recently implemented ISO 14000 series provide the organization or institution a framework process within which it can develop and position its environmental goals and objectives. This ability to localize and build ownership of the environmental policy/action plan has been a critical factor in the popularity of ISO 14000 series, particularly its flagship standard - ISO 14001.

The ISO 14000 series addresses many issues such as environmental management systems, environmental auditing, environmental labeling, environmental performance evaluation, and life cycle assessment. These international standards are voluntary standards for the establishment of a common worldwide approach to management systems that will lead to the protection of the earth's environment, while spurring international trade and commerce.

They serve as tools to manage environmental programme and provide an internationally recognized framework to measure, evaluate, and audit these programs. When implemented, these standards will ensure consistency in environmental management practice, harmonize national environmental standards within an international framework, simplify registrations, labeling and conflicting requirements, provide a single system for all transnational subsidiaries, and offer guidelines for environmental management excellence. Even though the standards do not prescribe performance levels, performance improvements will invariably be achieved by any entity if its commitment to environmental care is emphasized and employees are trained and are made aware of the policies in place to protect the environment.

Of particular significance in the series is the ISO 14001 on environmental management systems. The ISO 14001 voluntary environmental management standards and guidelines are intended to be practical and useful for companies and organizations of all sizes. The advantage of ISO 14001 process lies in the need for the organization seeking certification to initiate and sustain linkages and partnerships with a range of institutions that it works with:

  • The key stakeholder is the organization itself. Along with senior management, and other sections and departments, they are directly responsible for taking the initiative of seeking, implementing and sustaining an ISO 14001 and its EMS requirements, within the organization. They would also have to disseminate the results to all stakeholders for replication (See the example of local governments in Japan, illustrated in Box 2).

  • NGOs and citizen's groups in the community have a role to play in pressuring the organization to seek and implement the ISO 14001 acquisition process, and also to review the actions taken by the organization.

  • ISO Certification Consultants (REGISTRARS) [6] have the important role in providing advice to the organization on the development of an EMS, in testing the viability and implementation of the EMS itself, and issuance of ISO certification to the organization. The Registrars are also responsible for the annual monitoring and evaluation of the EMS's implementation.

  • Experts, researchers and universities and international organizations are critical in building awareness, education, and consultation in building the framework for the organization to implement EMS and ISO 14001 requirements. They also have a role in disseminating the results to a wider audience. This role, played by universities and its staff and students, are of particular interest in intensively fostering and supporting environmental education initiatives.

Box 2 ISO14001 acquisition by local governments in Japan.

More than 200 local governments - prefectural governments, city and town governments in Japan have sought ISO 14001 certification. While admittedly, most have focused on the immediate confines of the city hall, or local government buildings, this trend has important implications on the wider city as a whole, in pressuring the local institutions and organizations to themselves seek and implement an EMS.

The conditions necessary for effective governance by local governments include: 1) public accountability, 2) competencies, 3) policy information flow, 4) institutional reforms, and 5) behavior modification. In order to satisfy the above conditions, the local governments are required to attain: 1) administrative systems improvement, 2) developing staff competencies, 3) more effective goal setting, and 4) internalizing public accountability [7].

ISO14001 is an effective tool for the local governments in addressing these aspects, through establishment of an EMS, that requires the organization to continuously upgrade the administrative systems, improve staff competencies through training activities, ensure public accountability through improved internal and external communication, and introduce effective goal setting, monitoring, and corrective action mechanisms.

VI. The Changing Role of Universities in Environmental Education and ISO14001 Processes


he increasing attention and priority being placed on environmental objectives and action, within an organization and in its interactions with the larger society has raised the need for improved accountability, management and marketing skills, and professional skills that are oriented towards the environment - a key area of focus for universities.

Organizations attempting to acquire ISO14001 - whether local governments, universities or businesses/industries - need to provide appropriate training for their staff to expand their professional knowledge on environmental issues, in order to improve the quality of their environmental performance and their ability to implement an EMS.

This is particularly true in the organization's relationships with other outside stakeholders - one of the features of an EMS being information dissemination and partnership. Parallel to the trend in increasing numbers of organizations, including universities, seeking ISO 14001 certification, we are also witnessing an increase in the number of environmental NGOs in Japan, and a consequent critical need for professional training for NGO staff in order to enhance the level of their environmental knowledge.

It is also critical for enhancing people's capacity to understand environmental policies, enabling them to actively participate in implementation of various environmental activities. In this regard, the needs for improving the quality of environmental education in universities need to be highlighted.

The Intersection of ISO14001 and environmental education is being increasingly felt (Figure 2) as the pressure to implement an EMS through ISO14001, which is bringing forth a crucial need for skills, competencies, talents and knowledge that in many cases simply does not exist.

The benefits and implication of ISO14001 acquisition by universities and research institutions goes beyond an immediate and local need to improve a university's environmental performance. The complexity and socio-environmental problems, and specifically the trend of organizations and institutions to acquire ISO 14001 certification, have brought to the fore, the need for universities and research institutions to reformulate the way that knowledge is generated and applied, as well as capacity building activities to provide professional skills to civil society stakeholders, in order to address the demands of sustainable development effectively.

In addition, there is a perception in Japanese universities that management capacities are lower than those of overseas universities. For example, there has been no systematic promotion of industry- academics-government partnerships in research and development activities, due to a lack of integrated management system in universities [8].

Furthermore, in an era of increased globalization of the economy, it is not just the environmental performance of companies that is judged according to international standards, but also the quality of educational activities provided by universities and research institutions - providing justification to initiate internationally recognized initiatives such as the ISO14001 in universities and research institutions.

In Japan, in a recent trend of restructuring of national/public universities, as well as the discussion on transforming national/public universities to independent corporate bodies, universities have been required to raise competitiveness by promoting uniqueness of their programmes, raise efficiencies by introducing corporate management methods, and implement third party evaluation system. Furthermore, in order to enhance the capacity of universities to educate people who have competitiveness and creativity in international settings, more support from the government (and the society as a whole) will be provided to the universities that are evaluated as competitive compared to others. It is clear that the possession of ISO 14001 certification by universities is being seen as enhancing its competitiveness in attracting students and providing practical learning opportunities (For example, see the United Nations University's Environmental Policy Statement in Box 3).

Box 3 The United Nations University's Environmental Policy Statement

The United Nations University is committed to the ideals and practices of environmental sustainability and has established four goals for the continual improvement of the University's environmental performance and for the prevention of pollution. We consider that these goals are appropriate to the nature, scale and environmental impacts of the University.

1. Greening Our Work Practices

  • Comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations, and with other requirements to which the UNU subscribes
  • Include environmental considerations in the University's procurement practices
  • Reuse, reduce and recycle materials and goods purchased
  • Save energy and reduce water consumption

    2. Greening Our Work Place

  • Improve the quality of the working environment within the UNU buildings in Tokyo (internal air quality, drinking water quality, waste, lighting, health and safety, etc.)

    3. Contribute to the Global Community

  • Engage in research, networking, knowledge transfer and capacity building projects contributing to environmental sustainability

    4. Contribute to the Local Community

  • Participate as a responsible neighbor in local initiatives to improve the quality of the environment
  • Organize events (such as World Environment Day) to raise local awareness of environmental problems

    Management and personnel of the UNU are expected to understand how their actions impact on the environment and to take measures to improve both environmental performance and quality so as to minimize the direct and indirect negative impacts of our activities, where ever possible. We will also highlight the positive contribution made by the University to the solution of pressing environmental problems around the world.

    The goals set out in this policy statement will be implemented through a comprehensive plan containing objectives and measurable targets and with monitoring, review, self-assessment and analysis of performance against the plan. We will also take corrective action, whenever appropriate, and encourage all personnel to participate in an open dialogue on how best to improve the environmental performance and environmental management system of the University.

    Further information on UNU's ISO Initiative can be found on its website at:

    Discloser: The author was a member of the internal UNU Staff Team that was responsible for obtaining UNU's ISO 14001 certification

  • There are two key issues that need to be considered when we develop the justification for universities and research institutions to undertake the implementation of ISO 14001. Clearly there is an internal justification of reducing the environmental impacts, administrative streamlining, and saving of costs, but also - more significantly - an external justification of providing the necessary skills, capacities and knowledge for other stakeholders in the society at large to improve their environmental performance. Indeed, it can be said that a "significant environmental aspect" for a university's EMS is in fact environmental education and research activities on environmental themes.

    Under the ISO14001, the organizations are required to establish procedures to have strategic operation. The organizations are required to first assess how far they have achieved this in terms of building capacity and research activities on sustainability. Based on the results, they are required to set the goals and objectives that they seek to achieve, and the results of implementation need also to be assessed to evaluate the impacts and outcomes, that should be reflected in the improvement in the next stage.

    It is also expected that, by introducing EMS and presenting a university's 'green face', they can attract more students, subsidies from the government, and increased opportunities for partnership with other organizations [9]. For example, the Musashi Institute of Technology in Tokyo acquired ISO14001 certificate in 1998. It was reported that the Institute introduced an internship programme where students spent a few weeks as interns in governmental offices, businesses, and NGOs. Through the internship, students conducted join research activities, which helped them to acquire knowledge and skills in more practical settings, and helped them obtain jobs later. The Institute also developed the training texts for junior high and high schools on the theme of EMS, by involving students. The texts were developed based on the concept of EMS, by explaining how to evaluate the environmental impacts of daily life, as well as methods to plan and manage environmental activities in our daily life, based on PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Action) cycle. The programme was based on the belief that changing universities leads to changing junior high schools, high schools, and eventually, the society itself. Thus, it is the universities' role to promote an understanding of the ISO14001 concept among the younger generation. ISO14001 has strong implications in terms of education/capacity building, and as universities (the 'service providers' in educational sector) this is key to be promoted to the larger civil society [10]. Box 4 explores the close relationship between universities and communities.

    Box 4 Close Relationship between Universities and Local Communities

    Information disclosure of schools is critical. Many recent studies have called for in-depth consultation needs to be made in designing the educational system by involving residents of communities. Residents need to be involved in educational reform, checking school education systems, and defining the relationship between schools and the communities. Educational institutions need to recognize themselves as 'service providers'. Therefore, information disclosure and accountability is critical, which can lead to building of trust between educational institutions and other stakeholders, as well as appropriate division of responsibilities and roles (including their roles in ISO14001 development and implementation).

    In recent years, communities have themselves are facing complex, diversified, and global environmental and developmental issues. Coupled with the recognition of the limitation of policy making capacities of public sector, there is a growing need for multi-stakeholder participation to meet the shared responsibilities to solve environmental problems.

    In response to the situation, the roles of universities in community building in 21st century could be defined as follows: organizing training sessions and discussion forums for citizens, supporting communities to solve their problems through combination of internal & external knowledge, and strengthening self governance capacities of citizens through re-assessment of resources in the communities, and enhancement of capacities. Such roles become increasingly important in an era of "coexistence and shared responsibilities". Each individual has his or her responsibility and role to play in environmental management - and therefore a learning environment has to be created to enable people to be unique, creative, independent, and to have diverse and specialized skills and knowledge.

    Recent calls for revitalization of communities also place universities in a key role to strengthen the community support system. It is critical for universities to provide students with opportunities to use the knowledge that they gained through university education in communities they are located. Providing comprehensive education within an environment of action oriented leaning is needed. For example, in the Kyoto Seika University, which acquired ISO14001 certificate in March 2000, the students and a professor established a non-profit organization (NPO) within the University, in order to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in nearby communities. The activities of this NPO included providing supports for SMEs in development of EMSs, environmental assessment, and training activities. The services were provided at low cost, and students were involved in the activities as interns.

    The adoption of ISO14001 by the universities and research institutions will also allow them to create the necessary organizational culture and structures that will enable them to reorient research activities, and prepare new educational programmes and training methods to incorporate environmental dimensions in their activities. This can be done by:

    • Building a body of environmental knowledge and incorporating it in their training and research programmes, as well as teaching practices.
    • Challenging the obstacles generated by the institutionalized and legitimized research, and teaching practices in current academic environment.
    • Incorporating EMS and environmental concerns in existing pedagogic demands and interests of academic institutions.
    The shift from traditional methods of teaching and research activities to innovative management of operations can be observed by looking at the PDCA cycle commonly used in the development of an EMS programme. The PDCA cycle is discussed below in terms of the implication of an EMS to a university both internally and externally.

    a. Planning

    In the planning stage of an EMS, the following components are considered - development of an environmental policy, identification of significant environmental aspects, legal and other requirements, identification of the objectives and targets, and designing the environmental management programme itself (Figure 3).

    In going through this stage, universities are able to develop streamlined and coherent visions for the development and implementation of an environmental policy. It also builds capacities to be able to create policy options, policy research and impact analysis scenario development and vision/outcomes sought though brainstorming, which can be offered to other institutions and stakeholders implementing an EMS.

    In identifying the significant environmental aspects, the university can place particular emphasis on research and capacity building in environmental area within its administrative units, but also its academic units. Such academic and pedagogic capacity can easily be used for other external organizations as well, particularly when the university's key significant aspect, as mentioned above, is environmental education itself.

    Ensuring that a university subscribes to and satisfies all local legal and other requirements will mean better transparency, and accountability in its various operations. The research done and knowledge gained in this process can clearly be used to advice other external organizations in their own quest to justify and satisfy legal and regulatory requirements of an EMS.

    Establishment of a university's objectives and targets under an EMS is critical, especially since there is a close relationship between training, information and dissemination, demonstration?of best practices on one hand, and research and policy development on the other. Setting the objectives and targets actually help in designing and instituting a coherent framework to position these processes and making them more outcome-oriented rather than output-oriented. Quite clearly, the knowledge gained in these processes will inherently have more universal appeal, making it useful for other external organizations and stakeholders as well.

    A University's environmental management programme - a key output of this stage, will typically enable it to illustrate the importance of interdisciplinary planning and better integration of natural science and ecological aspects with social science educational programmes. This is a key strength of a university, and demonstrates to external organizations, the need for a multi-pronged partnership approach that brings together different resources, expertise and skills to develop and implement an environmental programme.

    b. Implementation and Operation

    In this stage of the PDCA cycle, the structure and responsibility of implementation of an EMS is developed and clarified. By developing a good structure and responsibility, universities will demonstrate enhanced cooperation among different departments, and eliminate related administrative problems. It will also enable them to efficiently provide interdisciplinary research and training programmes for external organizations that are also seeking to implement an EMS.

    Key to the university's effective implementation of an EMS is proper training, awareness, competence, and communication, by involving the participation of entire communities and populations where the environmental problems exist, reflecting and incorporating their real needs and issues faced, enabling them to use the university's research resources and results, and expertise to apply in their environmental management activities. It will also result in new attitudes of teaching staff and students, and new social relations to develop environmental expertise. External organizations can not only take advantage of the experience and expertise from the above activities, but also formally undergo training or take skill development courses at the university.

    The requirements under an ISO14001 to properly maintain EMS Documents and ensure its accessibility and usability by all concerned and affected persons will lead to better administrative clarity and efficiency, as well as better commitment and involvement from staff members. This streamlined information management procedures will also enable external organizations to learn from the whole EMS process, as well as develop skills in information management.

    Emergency Preparedness and Response is an integral part of an EMS and demonstrates a university's commitment to safety, and risk management. An emergency response plan and other knowledge and experience gained from this stage will be invaluable for external organizations.

    c. Checking and Corrective Action

    During and after the implementation of an EMS, constant and continual monitoring and measurement is an important part of an EMS plan so that targets levels are met and maintained at those levels. While data and numerical monitoring (such as air or water quality) are relatively easy, much experience and strategies are developed as a result of monitoring individual staff attitudes and performance - which is key to the success of an EMS. This can be achieved by involving and using all stakeholders, including students, labs and equipments. External organizations not only gain from the experiences of universities in this stage, but also - where possible - can gain access to equipment and laboratory resources for their own monitoring and measurement purposes.

    Internal audits, an important part of any EMS, identifies nonconformance to agreed and identified targets and goals, and proposes corrective action that will be needed to satisfy the nonconformance. Corrective actions taken will lead to further enhancement of knowledge in the society, broader participation and better change management, better communication with other societal groups, including local governments etc. These experiences and resources can easily benefit other external organizations and institutions too.

    A formal EMS Audit calls for the involvement of all of a university's stakeholders in the process. The actions that will be taken as a result of the issues raised in an audit will lead to better targeting of services. The lessons learnt from an audit can clearly be shared with external organizations too, enabling them to build better and more relevant EMSs.

    It is in the three processes above that a range of indicators is also developed. These indicators are critical not only because they are universally applicable, but also because of the fact that they are well researched.

    d. Management Review

    An appropriate and strong management commitment to an EMS is very critical, and it can make or break an EMS Plan. The visions and support provided by a University's top management personal, including its President or Rector, provides the necessary inspiration and vision that will persuade other groups and staff members to participate in an EMS, as well as build awareness with regards to the environment as a whole. It will also lead to better resources allocation, particularly financial, and more streamlined division of responsibilities and capacity building. These provide important knowledge resources, experience and lessons that external organizations can use for their own EMS plans.

    VIII. Conclusions and Recommendations


    he above discussion has clearly demonstrated the broad range of skills, capacities and competencies that universities develop in the process of designing, implementing and maintaining an EMS. But it also demonstrates the need to extend these lessons learnt and resources developed beyond the boundaries of a university, to benefit the larger civil society. There is a clear need and a niche - in supporting capacity building and research activities of local governments, businesses, and other institutions that plan to acquire ISO14001 for continuous improvement of activities - which universities can fill.

    A simultaneous need is also demonstrated of the need to raise the level and quality of environmental education and research activities in different and interrelated environmental fields in Japanese universities, so that a broader range of target groups and stakeholders can benefit from the knowledge assimilated.

    The discussion also shows how, in the process of designing and implementing an EMS, a university amasses a wealth of knowledge, skills and competencies that it can share with the larger civil society.

    When we return to the 3As proposed at the beginning of the paper - Awareness-Assessment-Action, we can clearly see the role of a university in this formula. Clearly, it lies in the development of resources related to education (that builds awareness), skills for research (that enables assessment), and support practice (that fosters action). This triadic formula of 'education-research-practice' will have to lie at the core of any expanded and more intensive role that a university envisages for itself in its service to the larger society.

    More specifically, the education-research-practice formula can be operationalized by emphasizing the roles that a university can play in the following four sectors:

    • Training
    • Information and dissemination
    • Demonstration and best practices
    • Research and policy development.
    Universities are in a clear position to provide comprehensive training for concerned local government and private sector staff members on various aspects of EMS development and implementation. Universities can collect information on various aspects of EMS, not just the specifics, but also strategies on developing political support, raising awareness etc. within the organization, as well as outside. Universities can partner with appropriate organizations to implement an EMS demonstration project as a learning experience, as well as document EMS best practices with different entities. Finally, universities can also conduct broad research and policy analysis to understand the justification for EMSs as well as link it to other tools and environmental issues, in a broader, global context.

    Ultimately, it is the neutrality, the value-free standing of a university that makes it an ideal nucleus to bring together disparate issues, themes, organizations, and interlink them together to achieve a sustainable future.

    [1] For example, the urban footprint of greater Tokyo (the land area required to produce the resources it consumes, and absorb the wastes it generates) is estimated to be 3.5 times the land area of the whole of Japan.   
    [2] A recent example was the Climate Change Convention that took place in Paris in 2015, which managed to raise awareness among Japanese citizens of the effects of their lifestyles on the global environment.   
    [3] These include studies and surveys conducted by the Fullbright Memorial Fund, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, as well as the Japanese ministries of Education, and of the Environment.   
    [4] This meeting brought about 200 American high school teachers to Japan to interact with their Japanese counterparts in October 2001.   
    [5] "Journal: Kankyo Kaigi - Environmental Conference", January 2001.   
    [6] Registrars are firms and organizations licensed and mandated to issue ISO 14001 certificates by the International Standards Organization   
    [7] Gaudioso C. Sosmena, Jr. & Nathaniel von Einsiedel, "Improving Urban Management Through Local Government Capacity Building", UMP-ASIA Occasional Paper No. 45, October 1999.   
    [8] Comments made by the participants to the Japan Human Dimensions Programme (JHDP) Expert Workshop on Environmental Education, 7 December 2001, Tokyo, Japan.   
    [9] Same as above Footnote #8   
    [10] "Effectiveness and Benefits of Introduction of ISO14001 in EMS Processes", Hideki Nakahara, Musashi Institute of Technology, Association of the Private University Environmental Protection Newsletter, No. 30, July 2001, Tokyo    


    Gaudioso, C. Sosmena, Jr. & Nathaniel von Einsiedel (1999) "Improving Urban Management Through Local Government Capacity Building", UMP-ASIA Occasional Paper No. 45, Thailand Journal: "Kankyo Kaigi - Environmental Conference", January 2001, Tokyo, Japan

    Nakahara, Hideki, Musashi Institute of Technology, "Effectiveness and Benefits of Introduction of ISO14001 in EMS Processes", Association of the Private University Environmental Protection Newsletter, No. 30, July 2001, Tokyo, Japan Transdisciplinary Project "Educating for Sustainable Future" (EPD) UNESCO (1999) "Sustainable Development - education, the force of change", Paris, France

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