Firms urged to focus on bigger environmental picture

UK businesses need to look at the wider picture when it comes to environmental management and risks.

The message comes from advisory and consultancy service NatWest Mentor, and follows a recent study by insurance company AXA which shows that two-fifths of UK SMEs have been affected by climate change but few are doing much to prepare for it.

Despite the fact that less than four in 10 senior managers think their business is well prepared to deal with climate change, companies appear to be focused on taking smaller environmental measures rather than looking at strategic planning.

The findings also come on the back of recent changes to ISO 14001, the international standard for environmental management systems. A key amendment to the standard is to include a greater emphasis on broader risk identification and management, potentially including the effect of climate change on the price of raw materials for example.

Thomas Ridgley, Senior Environmental Consultant at NatWest Mentor said: “The authors of the new standard have recognised that effective environmental management actually requires more big picture thinking and have adopted a more comprehensive strategic risk management approach.

“So the new standard requires organisations to consider and, where possible or appropriate, manage factors that would previously have been considered out of scope for an environmental management system. For instance, to comply with the new standard, organisations will now have to consider things like the possible impacts of climate volatility on the availability of resources or indeed their customers.

“Many firms place issues such as recycling and waste management at the heart of their environmental plans and, while these are clearly important, there are wider areas that need to be considered.”