ISO 14001 changes: ‘Overwhelming support’ from sustainability professionals

The upcoming revision of the ISO 14001 standard has been welcomed by more than 90% of environment and sustainability professionals, with particular support for proposals to align environmental management systems with an organisation's core strategy.

The international ISO 14001 standard outlines how to put an effective environmental management system in place. It is designed to help businesses remain commercially successful without overlooking environmental responsibilities.

Changes to ISO 14001, which are expected to come into force in Q3 2015, will see the standard integrated into core business processes, along with an extra focus on leadership and top management and communicational performance.

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) has been actively engaged throughout the revision of the standard and the organisation says it has had ‘overwhelming support’ for the changes so far.

IEMA’s latest member survey on the Draft International Standard reveals that more than 90% of sustainability professionals are in favour of proposals to align environmental management systems with an organisation’s strategy, while 84% of members support an extra emphasis being placed on reducing environmental impacts across the whole life-cycle of products and services including supply chains and in the development and use of products and services.

The vast majority (92%) of respondents believe ISO 14001 needs to strengthen requirements on organisations to demonstrate their legal compliance and environmental performance improvements; while 88.5% believe that IS0 14001 should require organisations to consider impacts from a changing environment.

Significant changes

IEMA’s executive director of policy and engagement and the UK’s appointed expert on the current revision to ISO 14001 Martin Baxter said: “We are delighted with the overwhelmingly positive ballot on moving the revision forward. The changes being proposed are significant, and will provide an enhanced framework for organisations managing their interface with the environment.

“This standard will integrate the environment into core organisational business processes and it’ about driving environmental improvements into more strategic decision-making. It will require organisations to take a lifecycle perspective; there’s a lot more focus on leadership and top management; and a lot more on communicational performance.

“IEMA members have made a significant contribution throughout the revision process and their views are fully reflected in the current document.”

The results of the ballot come just two weeks after the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) confirmed – through its annual survey of certifications – significant growth in the number of ISO 14001 environmental management system certificates at the end of 2013, up 6% on the previous year to 301,647.

The next meeting of the international working group that is drafting the standard will be held in the first week of February 2015 in Tokyo to consider the comments and produce the final draft.

Luke Nicholls

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