The standard ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems is being revised. The International Organisation for Standardisation’s working group met in early February this year and has produced a draft. The revised ISO 14001 standard will be published in 2015. Once published, it is likely to remain unchanged well into the 2020s.

The 2015 version of ISO 14001 will be significantly different from the current 2004 version. But don’t be afraid. You definitely don’t need to chuck your existing system out the window. You will just need to adjust it and you will have a cross over period that gives you plenty of time to do this.

There will be 7 major changes in the new version and they are:

1. Greater expectations will be placed on senior managers to demonstrate leadership and commitment to their Environmental Management System, to understand the impacts of their organisation on the environment, and to encourage improved performance. In other words the new version aims to embed environmental management at the strategic level.

2. Understanding the needs and expectations of stakeholders and the context of the organisation. You must firstly decide who your interested parties are, then determine their needs and expectations and build these into your Environmental Management System. For the context, you need to consider a range of environmental conditions (e.g. climate change, resource availability and biodiversity) in your system. These will be the new clauses 4.1 and 4.2.

3. Development of criteria to track environmental and the use of performance indicators to measure progress.

4. A high level strategic review to identify broader environmental risks and opportunities such as sustainable resource use, climate change, the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, and “other relevant environmental issues” (e.g. water shortage).

5. Influence your suppliers through your purchasing process by evaluating the supply of goods and services with a life cycle perspective and communicating your environmental requirements for the goods and services you purchase.

6. Evaluate the environmental aspects of new products and services throughout the value chain during the design phase and take measures to reduce their impact where possible. This includes considering the need to provide information about potential significant environmental impacts during the use and end of life treatment of the product or during the delivery of the service.

7. Make compliance evaluation a part of everyday inspection and monitoring activities as well as conduct periodic compliance audits, site inspections and a review of records so that your organisation knows as soon as possible when it does not comply with environmental legislation and can therefore take action.

In addition to the above major changes other clauses have been strengthened. There is more detail in this report from the Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment.

Thanks for listening and good luck!