Today, Wednesday 15 September 2021, marks the 25th Anniversary of the ISO 14001 standard. To mark the anniversary, IEMA’s Digital Journalist Tom Pashby asked IEMA’s Director of Policy and External Affairs Martin Baxter, on why ISO 14001 initially came about and Martin’s contributions to the standard.

ISO describes it as “an internationally agreed standard that sets out the requirements for an environmental management system. It helps organisations improve their environmental performance through more efficient use of resources and reduction of waste, gaining a competitive advantage and the trust of stakeholders.”

How have you contributed to the ISO 14001 standard?

At the time that the current edition was published, I was the UK’s national expert involved in helping to draft the standard, alongside my counterparts from all around the world.

Subsequently, I’ve become chair of the sub-committee that’s responsible for ISO 14001 and some of the other standards in the ISO 14000 series.

What has the standard’s impact been in its 25 years of existence?

The standard has provided a structured way for organisations, in all economic sectors - public and private, and of all different sizes, to manage and improve their environmental performance and compliance with legal and other requirements. It has also provided the basis for businesses to enhance their resilience to changing environmental conditions, i.e. helping them to adapt to our changing climate.

How does the standard help businesses today?

ISO 14001 gives companies a foundation for management of their greenhouse gas emissions reductions, enables them to enhance their resilience to global heating, contributes to their ability to tackle biodiversity loss and poor air quality, helps them along the way to adopting circular resource economy approaches, and to adopt sustainable resource and material management practices. All of these are facilitated through operational improvements, supply chain management and sustainable procurement, and reductions in the negative impacts of their products and services by applying more environmentally friendly design principles.

How will the forthcoming revision to the standard help organisations to achieve net zero?

The standard already provides an effective framework for organisations to do this. We’ll look at how best we can sharpen it up.

What else is next for the standard?

We need to ensure the standard is able to support businesses in being able to meet future environmental challenges and so that the standard continues to be relevant in the context of changing business models, and to be responsive to shifting consumer and stakeholder expectations.


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