Call for opinions for revision of 14001

28th June 2011

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As the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), begins the revision process of ISO14001, Ian Richardson asks what could be done to ensure the standard adds value.

ISO will this week launch the long process of revising the environmental management systems standard, 14001, and two key areas will frame the revision process.

The first relates to the proposed adoption of a new structure for all management system standards, which is currently being balloted with ISO member bodies.

If the new structure is adopted then it will mean all management system standards need to follow a new structure, using pre-set identical text where it might be appropriate; similar text relating to documentation, for example.

The second input to the revision will be the recommendations from the EMS Future Challenges study group, which published its report in 2010. The following recommendations are taken from the final report:

"When considering new requirements in a revised version of 14001, it should be remembered that 14001 is a tool to improve environmental management; new requirements should not be set in such way that they only reflect 'best in class' levels that will dissuade or exclude entry level organisations from adopting this standard.

“The use of maturity matrices should be considered to show how requirements can be applied in an increasingly comprehensive manner.

  1. An organisation should retain the responsibility to align its ISO 14001 processes with its environmental and business priorities
  2. Strengthen attention for subjects such as:
    a. Transparency/accountability with respect to environmental management/issues/performance
    b. Value chain influence/responsibility
  3. Put environmental management more clearly in the perspective of contributing to sustainable development (the ‘planet pillar’ of social responsibility)
  4. Broaden/clarify the concept of prevention of pollution
  5. Consider addressing other environmental principles from ISO26000, clause 6.5
  6. Consider aligning language between 26000 and 14001
  7. Clarification of the requirements of (improving) environmental performance in 14001
  8. Strengthen performance evaluation as part of 4.5.1 in 14001, for example the use of indicators; consider in this respect the ways in which performance evaluation is addressed in ISO14031, in ISO50001 and in non-ISO sources such as EMAS III and GRI
  9. Clearly describe and communicate the approach/mechanism of achieving legal compliance in 14001
  10. Address the concept of 'demonstration of the commitment to legal compliance'
  11. Consider to include the concept of demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the organisation’s compliance status
  12. Pay attention to strategic considerations of environmental management, the benefits and opportunities of it for organisations, not only in introduction, but also in the requirements
  13. Strengthen (on a strategic level) the relationship between environmental management and the core business of organisations, ie its products and services and the interaction with stakeholders (including clients and suppliers)
  14. Use the JTCG identical text on ‘context of the organisation’ to strengthen link between environmental management and the organisation's overall strategic considerations
  15. Consider the implications of new (strategic) business management models for application of 14001
  16. Draft clear and unambiguous requirements in 14001
  17. Provide where necessary clearer guidance in Annex A
  18. Maintain the applicability of 14001 to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), for example by drafting/maintaining simple and understandable requirements
  19. Consider the guidance given in CEN Guide 17 Guidance for writing standards taking into account micro, SMEs needs
  20. Address life-cycle thinking and the value chain perspective more clearly in the identification and evaluation of environmental aspects related to products and services
  21. Include clear requirements/guidance related to strategic environmental considerations, design and development, purchasing, market and sales activities in alignment with organisational priorities
  22. Building upon the (draft) JTCG identical text introduce a more systematic approach for identification of, consultation and communication with stakeholders on environmental issues
  23. The future revision of 14001 should address a requirement to establish an external communication strategy, including communication objectives, identifying relevant interested parties, description of what and when to communicate
  24. Provide guidance in the annex on information related to environmental aspects of products and services to external interested parties"

What are your views? What, if anything, do you think could be done to ensure a future version of ISO 14001 adds value to organisations?

Get involved in the debate on LinkedIn

Further information is available from Ian Richardson at BSI British Standards:

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