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Monitoring as an instrument for improving environmental performance in public authorities: Experience from Swedish Infrastructure Management
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Land and Water Resources Engineering, Environmental Management and Assessment. (Miljöbedömning och förvaltning)
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
: Experience from Swedish Infrastructure Management (English)
Abstract [en]

Monitoring is an important tool for gaining insight into an organisation’s environmental performance and for learning about the environmental condition and the effectiveness of environmental management measures. Development of environmental monitoring has generally relied on research aiming at improving monitoring methodology, technique or practice within a particular management tool. Little empirical research has taken into account the organisation’s reality where several management tools are used in parallel. This thesis analyses the practice of environmental monitoring in public authorities with the aim of identifying barriers and possibilities for environmental monitoring as an instrument for improving environmental performance, using the Swedish Rail Administration as a case organisation. The study identified two different types of environmental monitoring: environmental performance measurement (EPM) and activity monitoring, both important for achieving environmental improvements. EPM involves gathering and evaluating data to determine whether the organisation is meeting the criteria for environmental performance set by the management of the organisation. EPM can further be used for judging the success and failure of environmental objectives and strategies. Activity monitoring provides each project of the organisation with information to minimise the negative effects on the natural environment or human health and to ensure that the organisation’s operations conform with regulations.

Problems encountered comprised a variety of little co-ordinated monitoring activities, poor utilization of the monitoring results as well as limited internal feedback on monitoring results. Some of the problems identified seem to be an effect of the management transition from a traditional ‘command and control’ system to a self-administered organisation managed by economic incentives and voluntary management systems.

This thesis suggests several improvements to make monitoring more efficient. Primarily, the monitoring systems must have a clear structure and be adapted to its specific function. The EPE system would benefit from being integrated with the organisation’s central performance measurement, presenting progress towards organisational strategic objectives as well as operational objectives. The system for activity monitoring must not only focus on inputs and outputs to the system but must also include the environmental condition of the system. In order to improve communication and learning, monitoring data within both EPE and activity monitoring must be better transmitted and utilised within the structure of the permanent organisation. Experience from all monitoring activities that now is scattered and inaccessible to the individuals of the organisation could beneficially be stored within a well-structured organisational ‘memory‘. Such a system would facilitate an iterative management process where the monitoring results and the knowledge gained are used for making future plans and projects more adaptive, thereby improving the environmental performance of the organisation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2009. , xiv,36 p.
Series
Trita-LWR. PHD, ISSN 1650-8602 ; 1048
Keyword [en]
Environmental Management System (EMS); Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) follow-up; Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA); Environmental Performance Evaluation (EPE); organisational learning; Railway
National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10117ISBN: 978-91-7415-265-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-10117DiVA: diva2:209099
Public defence
2009-04-17, F3, Lindstedtsväg 26, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100729Available from: 2009-03-24 Created: 2009-03-23 Last updated: 2010-07-29Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Environmental management systems in rail operation and maintenance: Current practice and potential improvements
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental management systems in rail operation and maintenance: Current practice and potential improvements
2005 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Assessment Policy and Management, ISSN 1464-3332, E-ISSN 1757-5605, Vol. 7, no 3, 433-456 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Environmental management systems (EMS) require performance evaluation of significant environmental aspects. Much has been published on how to achieve environmental performance evaluation but little information is available on applications in practice. The Swedish National Rail Administration, Banverket, initiated the implementation of EMS in 1998, at about the same time as many other rail administrations. In this paper an overview of the application of EMS at rail administrations in selected countries is presented and systems for environmental performance evaluation within the EMS used by Banverket are analysed. The use of EMS by rail administrations was found to vary from the absence of environmental management to fully implemented EMS, mainly ISO 14001. At Banverket, EMS is widely used but the environmental performance evaluation could be improved by introducing indicators and merging all types of environmental monitoring, currently reported separately, into a common system

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
World Scientific Publishing Co., 2005
Keyword
Environmental performance evaluation; EMS; ISO14001; railway; Sweden
National Category
Other Civil Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10112 (URN)10.1142/S1464333205002134 (DOI)2-s2.0-24944580115 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100729Available from: 2009-03-23 Created: 2009-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
2. Identification of environmental aspects in an EMS context: A methodological framework for the Swedish National Rail Administration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Identification of environmental aspects in an EMS context: A methodological framework for the Swedish National Rail Administration
2007 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 15, no 5, 385-394 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Environmental aspects are basic elements in an Environmental Management System (EMS). The identification of environmental aspects is, however, recognized as one of the most complicated parts in establishing an EMS and has been subject to criticism concerning, e.g., lack of transparency and reproducibility. This paper evaluates the Swedish National Rail Administration's (Banverket) current practice for the identification of environmental aspects. A better link between activity, aspect and impact is needed. A more stringent identification procedure would improve Banverket's environmental management. The paper proposes a structured framework for the identification of environmental aspects at Banverket.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2007
Keyword
Environmental management system; Public organization; Sweden; Operation and maintenance
National Category
Other Civil Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10113 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2005.11.017 (DOI)000244134900001 ()2-s2.0-37849184976 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100729Available from: 2009-03-23 Created: 2009-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
3. Framework for environmental performance measurement in a Swedish public sector organization
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Framework for environmental performance measurement in a Swedish public sector organization
2009 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 17, no 11, 1017-1024 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Environmental performance measurements are an important component in strategies for achieving ecologically sustainable development. However, models and frameworks for performance measurement are primarily developed for business and may not be directly applicable to public organizations. This study aimed to contribute to the development of environmental performance measurement tools for public sector organizations by developing an appropriate framework. The study is based on a case study of the Swedish Rail Administration. The main method for data collection was focus group interviews. The proposed framework presents important features of an environmental performance measurement for the public sector and is illustrated by results from the case organization. The framework was constructed using the causal-chain framework pressure-state-response (PSR) and the management system management-by-objectives (MBO), respectively measuring and managing performance towards both strategic and operational objectives. An environmental management system serves as a toolbox, encompassing and coordinating the environmental objectives and the tools for performance measurement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2009
Keyword
Performance measurement; PSR framework; Management-by-objectives (MBO); Environmental management system (EMS); Indicators; Environmental performance evaluation; Railway
National Category
Civil Engineering Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10114 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2009.01.011 (DOI)000272672800006 ()2-s2.0-67349182613 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100729Available from: 2009-03-23 Created: 2009-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
4. SEA monitoring in Swedish regional transport infrastructure plans: Improvement opportunities identified in practical experience
Open this publication in new window or tab >>SEA monitoring in Swedish regional transport infrastructure plans: Improvement opportunities identified in practical experience
2009 (English)In: Environmental impact assessment review, ISSN 0195-9255, E-ISSN 1873-6432, Vol. 30, no 6, 400-406 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) requires monitoring in order to identify unforeseen adverse effects and to enable appropriate remedial action to be taken. Guidelines on how to monitor significant environmental impacts have been developed but experience from practice is limited. This paper presents a study of environmental monitoring in Swedish regional transport infrastructure planning. The result shows that essentially no environmental monitoring is currently performed. Monitoring of the plans merely involves checking the implementation of projects and performing an economic account. At present, a new planning period has commenced for the regional transport infrastructure plans. To obtain an iterative SEA process for the new plan with integrated SEA monitoring, the following means are suggested: reinforcement of practitioners' incentives to plan and perform monitoring; integration of monitoring in the SEA process; pre-determined impact thresholds that prompt remedial action; and more efficient use of monitoring results.

Keyword
Follow-up; Monitoring; Regional transport infrastructure plans; SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment); Sweden
National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10116 (URN)10.1016/j.eiar.2009.12.002 (DOI)000282851800008 ()2-s2.0-77956232313 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100729Available from: 2009-03-23 Created: 2009-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
5. A systems thinking approach to environmental monitoring in a Swedish central public authority: hindrance and possibilities for learning from experience
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A systems thinking approach to environmental monitoring in a Swedish central public authority: hindrance and possibilities for learning from experience
(English)In: Journal of Environmental Impact Assessment ReviewArticle in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-10115 (URN)
Note
QS 20120328Available from: 2009-03-23 Created: 2009-03-23 Last updated: 2012-03-28Bibliographically approved

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