Martin Baxter reveals the planned developments to the internation standard for Environmental Management Systems. Click to find out more.

At the first meeting of the international working group established to revise the international ISO 14001 environmental management system (EMS) standard, it was agreed to structure the new version of the document around ISO's new high level structure for management system standards. The new structure will mean a significant change to the existing standard, which was published in 2004.

Commenting on the decision, Martin Baxter IEMA's Executive Director - Policy and the UK's nationally appointed expert to the working group, said: "The new structure includes some important new elements which will help to elevate the status and importance of environmental management in organisations to a more strategic level, whilst retaining the operational strength that ISO 14001 has typically been build around".

"IEMA's extensive engagement with practitioners in a UK and Ireland series of workshops showed strong support for the new structure. It will help organisations to better integrate environmental management into the core parts of their business, rather than being treated as an isolated bolt-on."

"There is over quarter of a million users of ISO 14001 in 155 countries worldwide, and the new version of the standard that is being developed is likely to be in use well into the mid-2020's. It is therefore essential to develop a standard that enables organisations to meet future environmental challenges, rather than simply trying to solve existing problems."he said.

The decision to use the new structure follows ISO's long-standing attempts to develop a harmonised, common framework for all its management system standards. Following a ballot in 2011, the new structure has been mandated for use by those developing new or revising existing standards - including ISO 14001.

The working group that is revising ISO 14001 met for the first time in Berlin for a three day meeting in February 2012. Participants from around the world began the process of integrating the existing standard into the new structure and identifying key issues which will need to be worked through at subsequent sessions. These included 24 key recommendations from an international study group which reported in 2010 on EMS Future Challenges.

The working group will next meet in Bangkok, Thailand at the end of June 2012 where the focus of activity will be to work through a series of key issues that have been identified. Prior to the meeting, working group members will be identifying additional key issues not covered in Berlin.


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