Updated: ISO calls for opinions on 14001 revision

14th February 2013

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Users of ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 are being asked to what extent the revised standards should consider resource efficiency, pollution prevention and organisational strategy

Following the latest round of discussions on the revisions at the beginning of February, the international standards organisation (ISO) has launched a global survey of environment management professionals outlining key areas that could be addressed in the new editions of 14001 and 14004.

The groups working to update the standards have identified a series of “future challenges” for environment management on issues relating to sustainable development, corporate responsibility, communication with stakeholders and broader business management.

Lesley Wilson, committee manager for 14001 at BSI, said: “These ‘future challenges’ include a commitment to make environment management an integral part of an organisation’s overall strategy. This would potentially strengthen the need for commitment by top management contained in the current version of the standard.”

ISO is now looking for feedback from users on whether the standards should address topics like accountability to stakeholders for environmental performance, life-cycle approaches in products and services, influence on value chains and pollution prevention.

The survey, which closes on 30 April, asks to what extent the standards should focus on resource efficiency, the “polluter pays” principle and the “precautionary approach”. It also wants stakeholders’ views on whether the environment should be considered more strategically in business activities, including in product design, marketing and procurement.

Users are also asked specifically for feedback on annex A of 14001 and the guidance on implementing environment management systems included in 14004. ISO asks how often these elements are being used in practice and for suggestions on how they could be improved.

Martin Baxter, IEMA’s policy director and the UK representative on the 14001 working group, urged environment professionals to complete the survey.

“It is essential that the experience of users of 14001, and the views of broader stakeholders, are taken into account,” he said. “IEMA encourages as many people as possible to participate in the survey, as it will form an important evidence base to help inform the future direction of international environment management standards.”

Baxter is to present a webinar for IEMA members on the latest developments in the revision to 14001 on 12 March, and the Institute will be following the webinar with a UK-wide series of free workshops. To book your place on the webinar, and for more information, visit iema.net.

Meanwhile Greg Roberts, environment consultant at EEF, urged organisations to start considering the revisions. “Firms can, even at this early stage, benefit greatly from considering the effect the main changes will have on their business,” he said.

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