Amendment to ISO 14001 in the works

Amendment to ISO 14001 in the works

The ISO Committee on Environmental Management has decided to amend the ISO 14001:2015 standard “Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use”. This is done by developing a so-called amendment that does not fix the entire standard, but clarifies a number of existing requirements. A new international working group headed by Sue Briggs of the United States has been formed to develop this modification. The intention is for the amendment to be published in mid-2025. The NEN Environmental Management Standards Committee is making the Netherlands contribution to this amendment process and is looking for new members to expand support and strengthen the required capabilities.

The latest edition of ISO 14001 dates back to 2015 and builds on the higher-level architecture published in 2012 to harmonize ISO management system standards and enhance their integrated applications in organizations. Many organizations around the world as well as in the Netherlands are accredited according to ISO 14001 standards. This shows that they have knowledge of the relevant environmental aspects of their activities, products and services and the requirements imposed on them by law and regulations. and that they have taken measures to control and, where possible, reduce the impact on the environment and thus contribute to sustainable development. ISO 14001 also requires a life cycle approach and attention to environmental aspects that can be affected by suppliers and customers; In this way, it contributes to making production chains more sustainable and achieving a circular economy.

Research and evaluation

In recent years, the ISO Committee on Environmental Management has been investigating the need for a revision of ISO 14001. The Study Group has identified future environmental management challenges and assessed their impact on ISO 14001. A global survey of users of ISO 14001 has been conducted, which provided useful feedback, for example on paragraphs in ISO 14001 which has been considered challenging. The high-level structure has been revised and published in 2021 in a slightly modified form as the Rich Structure. The Working Group analyzed all of this information and developments and presented a number of options for the future of ISO 14001 to the ISO Committee. After a vote on this among ISO members, it became clear that the majority were in favor of amending the current version of ISO 14001. The Dutch Standards Committee was in fact in favor of a more radical revision of ISO 14001, but this option was actually rejected at an early stage.

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Amendment draft specification

Amendment means a very limited change to the requirements of the standard. The so-called design specification (design specification) is established in order to properly define the product to be delivered and the process leading to it. The intent is that only a few substantial changes will be made as a result of the implementation of the new harmonized structure. In addition, attention will be paid to clarifying a number of requirements and topics. Primarily by improving the explanation of the requirements in Appendix A of ISO 14001. If this does not provide sufficient mitigation, the wording of the requirements can be modified in the main text, but with the original intent preserved. Topics mentioned in the design specification include:

  • analyze context, risks and opportunities and link to other chapters of the standard, in particular 8 (Operational Planning and Control) and 9 (Performance Appraisal);
  • a life cycle perspective in environmental management;
  • linking environmental management to the organizations strategy and comprehensive and integrated business operations;
  • contact with topics such as climate change and the circular economy;
  • external communications and reporting;
  • culture and employee engagement.

In general, it is still quite current, but it is not expressly intended to modify the existing package of requirements, but rather to show how the existing requirements can or should be applied in order to properly address these topics in the EMS.

The time limit for the amendment process is two years and the revised version of ISO 14001:2015 is scheduled to be ready for publication in mid-2025.

Environmental management systems and technologies play an important role in the personal responsibility of companies and organizations in formulating, implementing and achieving environmental policy and complying with laws and regulations.

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Promote Dutch input

The Dutch Environmental Management Standards Committee has a proven track record of playing an important role in the development of ISO 14001 from its first edition in 1996. NEN has also played an important role in developing and renewing the common basis for all management system standards (HLS and Harmonized Structure). In order to continue to perform this role properly, the Standards Committee is looking for new members who are willing to contribute nationally and internationally to the revision of ISO 14001. Now is the time to step in and help renew the foundation for clearly good environmental management. By participating in the Standards Committee, you become part of a wide international network of professionals, you are the first to know about relevant developments and upcoming changes and can influence the next edition of one of the most important standards in the ISO portfolio.

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