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Integrated Environmental Management by distance learning

By Sue Cox, Programme Co-ordinator
Integrated Environmental Management
University of Bath, United Kingdom



       

The environment and sustainability are major issues confronting all organisations on a daily basis. Whilst trying to survive and progress, organisations are, at the same time, having to deal with tightening environmental legislation and growing public concern. Many see environmental issues as a threat, adding yet another cost to the bottom line; relatively few perceive it as an opportunity which can offer a competitive edge.

Our flexible Integrated Environmental Management (IEM) Courses have been developed through a cross-disciplinary approach drawing on expertise from within the University of Bath and from cutting edge practitioners within business, commerce and industry. The Courses have been running since 1995 and are continually developing to meet the changing requirements of their students.

Our latest development is the new module in Sustainable Development, a highly commended runner up for the Petronas Award for Excellence in Education & Training administered b y the IChemE. This like all the modules can be studied as part of the MSc programme or as a stand alone course for Continuing Professional Development. The course sets out the different interpretations of sustainable development and traces their origins. Since the Rio ‘Earth Summit’ in 1992 these different interpretations have caused confusion and hampered progress towards the goal behind the famous and widely cited Brundtland definition that: ‘Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. ’Few people realise that this original quotation from the ‘Brundtland Report’ goes onto say: ‘It contains within it two key concepts:

• The concept of ‘needs’ in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and

• The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organisation on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.’

(Our Common Future, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 43)

Most prominent interpretations of sustainable development used in developed countries, such as the UK government’s definition of sustainable development, ignore the ‘overriding priority’, clearly stated in the first bullet point, given to meeting the needs of the world’s poor – referring mainly to those in developing countries who cannot meet their basic needs for food, shelter and security.

The United Nations on the other hand has continued to pursue Brundtland’s ‘overriding priority’ with its Millennium Development Goals leading to a confusing ‘two-track’ approach.

The new course explains this confusion and shows how businesses and other organisations can promote sustainable development in practice by helping to alleviate poverty and protect the environment.

The IEM programmes are ideal for all those wishing to develop a firm understanding of the principles and applications of the many tools available to professional environmental practitioners. They are specifically designed for part-time study without the need to take a career break and offer maximum flexibility to help both individuals and organisations make the most to the opportunities presented by considering environmental and sustainability issues in their work.

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