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Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility

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  • Application of 3rd party ISO 14001 certification to cities
Fall 2008 - Spring 2009

Study Conducted by:
Greg Davis, M.A.Sc. candidate, Ryerson University
Kernaghan Webb, Director, Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility

Question Being Investigated:
What are the advantages and challenges associated with implementing a 3rd party certified environmental management systems in a municipal organization such as the cities of Toronto and Montreal?

Project Overview:
Environmental management systems (EMSs) such as the one set out by the International Organisation for Standardarisation (ISO) in its ISO 14000 series of standards are voluntary approaches for systematically identifying and addressing an organisation’s environmental impacts.  It is possible for organizations to have their EMSs reviewed and registered (or certified) as compliant with the ISO 14001 standard by an accredited 3rd-party registrar. Certification or registration to ISO 14001 is an approach used extensively in the private sector and increasingly in the public sector as a tool for managing environmental performance.  Reasons for using a formal, third party certified EMS include:  to reduce legal liability; to gain competitive advantage; to obtain external recognition; to identify of environmental management, and to opportunities and reduce costs.

The City of Calgary is the first municipality in North America to achieve a corporate-wide ISO 14001 registration.  By the end of 2006, every business unit within the City of Calgary received registration to the updated ISO 14001:2004 standard.  The accomplishment leads the way for other cities to learn from the improvements to be had in risk management, organizational integration, process improvement, and urban competitiveness experienced by Calgary. The cities of Toronto and Montreal are unique situations with different geography, resources, and infrastructure.  Any environmental management solution must apply the best available ideas and in the context of how they can maximize benefits to their respective organizations.

Drawing on the Calgary ISO 14001 experience, this study will examine the value and feasibility of third party ISO 14001 certification applying to the operations of cities of Montreal and Toronto, as well as the strengths, limitations, challenges associated with applying third party EMSs to municipalities such as Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

Anticipated Results
  • Article on motivations and lessons learned through the Calgary ISO 14001 experience;
  • Article on possible value of, challenges to, application of 3rd party ISO 14001 to municipalities;
  • Masters thesis extrapolating results of study on Calgary, Toronto, Montreal; drawing conclusions on applicability of EMS to Canadian municipalities and beyond;
  • Presentation of findings at Spring 2009 Toronto-Montreal City Summit
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  • "Greening Retail" case studies

Information forthcoming - Please return in spring 2009.

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Ryerson CSR Institute Events


October 27: Law’s Sponsorship of Corporate Irresponsibility

October 11: Ryerson University CSR Institute Talk: Canada's Experience with the OECD Multinational Enterprise Guidelines and National Contact Point

October 4: Corporate Sustainability Reporting: An Evolving Story

September 29: Human Rights Defenders (HRDs): Multistakeholder Statement of Support for HRDs – Invitation to Participate

August 18:  CSR in the Caribbean Commonwealth: a Multi-Level Analysis

July 7:  Mining Conflicts & the Catholic Church: Exploring the Connections

May 19: Revenue Transparency, Corruption and the Extractive Sector: Panel Discussion

April 28: Good Faith, Honesty and the Bhasin v. Hrynew Decision: Where to From Here?

March 8: State & Non-state Regulatory Innovations: Learning from Conflict

March 7: The Resource Curse & What Firms Can Do About It


December 13: The Rise in Mining Conflict: What Lies Beneath?

November 21: Whistleblowing Systems: A New Canadian Guide

November 14:  Sustainable Procurement -- Two New Initiatives

June 28:  Social Licence to Operate: Revisiting the Concept

June 9:  ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Standard:  Where to from here?

May 6: The 'Legalization' of Corporate Social Responsibility: The Hong Kong ESG (Envtal, Social, Governance) Reporting Experience

April 15: Latin American Mining-Community Agreements: Case Study

March 18: Legislating CSR? Learning from India


Dec 11: Indigenous Consent in the Canadian Mining Context: Learning from the Voisey's Bay Institute

Nov 12: Retail Pharmacies as Social Enterprise Health Care Providers: Lessons from USA?

Oct 26: CSR Institute Talk: Canadian Universal Investors: A Force for Socially Responsible Investing?

Oct 8: CSR Institute Talk: What does Drake have to do with CSR?

Sep 30: Forestry sustainability and APP take centre stage at Ryerson CSR Institute

Sept 18: CSR Institute Panel Discussion: From CSR Pariah to Good Performer? The Asia Pulp & Paper Turnaround Story

June 7 - 11: International Symposium on Corporate Responsibility and Sustainable

March 2: Panel discussion on the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement

Jan 29: CSR, Corp Lobbying & Transparency: Panel Discussion, moderated by Jeff Gray  

Jan 19: Unpacking the Peru-BHP Billiton Tintaya Dialogue Table, with Paul Warner


Nov 20: CSR in the Mining Boardroom: A Panel Discussion with CEOs/Board Members

Nov 14: Understanding Community Investment:  A Panel Discussion with Five Private Sector Leaders

Oct 22: Mining & CSR in Africa: from Pressure to Impacts, with Tomas Frederiksen

Oct 20: Managing Community and Environmental Impacts During the Mining Construction Phase, with John Kielty

Oct 9: Procurement as a Means for Mining Firms to Secure their Social License to Operate, with Jeff Geipel and Kevin D'Souza

Sept 22: Aboriginals, Recent Supreme Court Decisions & Sustainable Economic Development, with Bernd Christmas

Sept 8: Corporate Diplomacy: Building the External Stakeholder-Reputation Relationship, with Witold Henisz

June 27: workshop on new development NGO-business platform

May 27: "Latin America, CSR & Standards: A Chilean Perspective" with Dante Pesce

May 8: Where to from Here: A Canadian Strategy for the UN Principles on Business and Human Rights? Visit the conference web page for details.

April 30: Corrupt and autocratic countries: to engage or to withdraw and isolate? A corporate view, with Sir Mark Moody-Stuart

April 14: The Governance Gap: Extractive Industries, Human Rights and the Home State Advantage

April 7: Resource Revenue Transparency:  The Emerging Canadian Approach

April 4: Measuring mining impacts on communities: Learning from Colombia's Cerrejon Coal Mine

March 24: rePlan’s Mining-Indigenous experiences in Canada, Africa and Central America

March 17: UNICEF Canada, CSR, & the Canadian Extractive Industry

March 3: "Senate Reform 2014:  What can we Learn from the Constitutional Repatriation Activity of 1982?"

Feb 13: "Addressing Homelessness:  Exploring Government, Private Sector and Civil Society Roles"

Jan 20: "Confessions of a Corporate Responsibility mining executive:  What Contributes to CR Success in the Mining Sector?"

Jan 16-17: Conference: Business, Human Rights and Law in Transnational Context

Jan 10: "Ontario’s new Mining Act regime: the Ontario-Aboriginal Interface"