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As part of its ongoing revision process, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has been working on the first revision of ISO 14001 since 2004. In March 2013 the first Committee Draft of the new standard was developed. Following the fifth ISO Working Group meeting in Botswana in June, a revised schedule was announced. Now the projected final publication date is May 2015. Before then there are a number of preparatory stages which have to be carried out.

ISO 14001 REVISION TIMETABLE
The proposed ISO timeline anticipates that a draft version of the revised Standard (DIS) will be available in April 2014. Subject to comment and voting on its content, a final draft version (FDIS) will be available in January 2015 with publication of the revised version of the Standard scheduled for May 2015.

REVISED CONTENT
At this stage in the revision process, it is uncertain what the precise requirements of the final revised version of ISO 14001 will be.  However, it is already known that certain structural changes will be made following the adoption by ISO of ‘Annex SL’ in 2012. All ISO technical committees developing management system standards can use the structure, terms and definitions given in Annex SL.

The revised standard will build upon the requirements of the 2004 version of ISO 14001 and also consider the recommendations contained in the report ‘Future Challenges of EMS and ISO 14001’ produced by the ISO TC/207/SC1 study group.   

The Committee Draft of ISO 14001 aligns with the ten sections of Annex SL. Key areas of change include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Scope – The scope of the EMS has been expanded to include external impacts on the organisation
  • Terms and definitions – This section will reference common terms and core definitions outlined in Annex SL and those specific to an EMS
  • Context of the organisation - This clause includes requirements relating to understanding the internal and external issues of the organisation and, the needs and expectations of interested parties.
  • Leadership - Top management leadership and commitment has been strengthened requiring EMS requirements to be implemented into the organisation’s business strategy and ensuring the EMS achieves it intended outcome(s).
  • Policy – Policy commitments have been broadened to include supporting environmental protection. Examples, including climate change mitigation and adaption, are given.
  • Environmental Aspects – This clause includes consideration of a life cycle perspective when evaluating environmental aspects.
  • Legal Requirements and other requirements – This has been replaced by ‘Legal requirements and voluntary obligations’.
  • Environmental objectives – The committee draft requires that performance indicators are to be defined for each environmental objective.
  • Value chain planning and control – A new clause introducing a requirement to ensure that upstream and downstream processes related to significant aspects are controlled or influenced. 
  • Evaluation of compliance – As expected the committee draft reinforces the evaluation process with the introduction of a requirement upon the organisation to maintain knowledge and understanding of its compliance status.

In summary, the committee draft appears to broaden the scope of an EMS, making it more outward-looking with further focus on performance improvement.

FUTURE UPDATES FROM SGS
Clearly at this stage in the revision process no organisation can be sure of the content of the final revised version of ISO 14001. Until the final draft is issued, no organisation can realistically make any definite forecast about requirements, detailed plans for internal process or procedural revisions, or for ISO 14001 certificate transition arrangements.

Further information and updates on the development of ISO 14001:2015 and its publication schedule will be issued by SGS as they become available.

ABOUT ISO 14001:2004
The current ISO 14001 standard sets a basis for how to manage the environmental aspects of your business activities more effectively, while taking into consideration environmental protection and pollution prevention. A valid ISO 14001:2004 certificate shows your organisation follows the most internationally recognised environmental management principles. SGS is the most widely accredited certification body and the global leader in ISO 14001:2004 certification.

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