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The revision of ISO 14001

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. Currently, the projected final publication date is January 2015. Before then, however, there are a number of preparatory stages which have to be carried out.


The proposed ISO timeline anticipates that a draft version of the revised Standard (DIS) will be available in at the end of 2013. Subject to comment and voting on its content, a final draft version (FDIS) will be available during the summer of 2014 with publication of the revised version of the Standard scheduled for January 2015. Clearly this timeline may be subject to delay and date slippage.


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 is 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.

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