LRQA ISO Standards Update – Current Progress with ISO 14001 Technical Committee ISO/TC 207

With the revision process commencing back in 2012, more than 250,000 users worldwide – from small and medium sized enterprises to large international operations, across all industry sectors – are expecting a forward-looking revision of international Environmental Management System (EMS) standard ISO 14001. 
  
The last major meeting of the ISO Technical EMS Committee ISO/TC 207 was held in Botswana in July.  LRQA is involved in this work via the Independent International Organisation for Certification (IIOC) and the European Network of Environmental Professionals (ENEP).  Here, LRQA Germany Technical Manager Cornelia Fricke - who also manages the liaison between the ENEP EMS working group and  ISO/TC 207 - shared her insight on the latest developments on the road to ISO 14001 revision. 

Survey to involve Stakeholders 

"At the beginning of 2013 a survey was carried out to drive stakeholder engagement and as a committee we were delighted with the response; of the overall total number of respondees (approx. 4500), over half of this total were from existing users of ISO 14001 – so a very big ‘thank you’ from the committees! 

The answers indicated that most users would prefer additional guidance and information on the topics identified by the recommendations of the Future Challenges EMS Study Group (for more information on these recommendations, read the article in the ISO Focus+ magazine). 

High Level Structure 

The revision is based on the so called ‘High Level  Structure’ (known as Annex SL) which is the new, international and coordinated approach to common text and structure adopted by ISO and to be used for the future revision of all Management System Standards. 

Revising ISO 14001 

The main focus of the revision is to strengthen the incorporation of the EMS into the Organisation’s Business Processes. Further topics include: 

 Integration of the EMS into the organisation’s strategic management 
 Improvement of identification and consideration of the views of interested parties on a strategic level 
 Broader view on the supply and value chain including consideration of the life cycle 
 Improving the environmental performance using indicators for the performance evaluation 
 Focus on compliance with legal and other requirements 
 Applicability for small and medium sized companies 
 Integration with other Management Systems such as Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Greenhouse Gas or Energy Management 

The revision is planned to be completed within three years meaning that the revised ISO 14001 is expected to be published in 2015. Keeping this time table in mind, the objective of the latest meeting was to complete a new Committee Draft (CD2).  Despite best efforts, this objective was not achieved as more than 230 pages with approx. 1,300 comments had to be considered.  In addition, the technical meeting showed that further discussions are necessary relative to the ’High Level Structure’ specifically around  “Risks and Opportunities” and how the Environmental Aspects Evaluation relates to these. 

Although this essential discussion is still going on, text was drafted for several chapters using the results of the Survey as well as the comments on CD 1.  During the coming months, remote working groups will continue to draft text and another meeting is planned later this year, during which CD2 is expected to be issued. 

Annex and ISO 14004 - Guidance and Information 

Interestingly enough, the above-mentioned survey showed a desire from the ISO 14001 users for more Information and guidance – however within the same survey it was noted that that users were either unaware of or were not using the Annex  as  reference or guidance. Nevertheless the content of the Annex SL as well as ISO 14004’s ‘general guidelines on principles, systems and support techniques’ are being revised as well to give as much help as possible." 

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