The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Robert V. Percival, Jolene Lin and William Piermattei
Chapter 13: Environmental law, policy and governance: environmental management systems for cities
Cities bear the brunt of increased human activities on limited land space with limited resources. These activities deplete natural resources, generate pollution and wastes, accelerate the loss of forests and biological diversity, as well as threaten the water supply. As populations increase, these problems are exacerbated. It is therefore essential that cities adopt a system of environmental governance that will help ensure sustainability. As each city has its own mix of geographic, social, economic, political and environmental problems, there is no formula for sustainability that would fit every city. What is clear is that every city needs an effective environmental management system (EMS) to manage its many activities, to ensure that development is controlled, environmental damage is minimized, natural and heritage areas are preserved and its citizens have an enhanced quality of life. This chapter examines the ingredients for sound environmental management in cities, particularly cities in the developing world. It submits that environmental stewardship and ecological sustainability is at the heart of sustainable development, and the integration of the natural environment within the city has been largely overlooked. It advocates bringing the natural environment back to our cities and the incorporation of this dimension into environmental management systems. The issue of the sustainability of cities is complex, as few can agree on what ‘sustainability’ means, and how is it measured, in the context of a city.
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