Updates on Revision of ISO 14001 and Other Standards


Each ISO standard goes through a systematic review process every five years to establish if a revision is required to keep it current and relevant for the marketplace. It was agreed that ISO 14001:2004 needed a revision in late 2011. The revision work commenced in early 2012. Currently the revised standard is in the form of a Draft International Standard (DIS) and is available for a three month balloting and commenting period (public inquiry) beginning 28 August 2014. Publication is planned for the third quarter of 2015.

 The revision was needed for two major reasons:

  1. To include new approaches on environmental management and its stakeholder expectations that have evolved since its inception in 1996 and;
  2. To transition the document into a standardised format set by ISO to help organisations integrate their multidisciplinary management systems into their organisational processes

The revision addresses both reasons by improving the existing requirements and adding new requirements where necessary.

In addressing the need for new approaches on environmental management and evolving stakeholder expectations the DIS includes:

  1. Incorporating a requirement for strategic understanding on environmental issues that are important to the organization. Specific focus is on issues or changing circumstances related to the needs and expectations of interested parties (including regulatory requirements) and local, regional or global environmental conditions that can affect, or be affected by, the organisation;
  2. A requirement for visible involvement, support and commitment from top managementby taking accountability for the effectiveness of the organisation’s environmental management system and assigning specific responsibilities for those in leadership roles to promote environmental management within the organisation;
  3. Expanding the environmental policy commitment from prevention of pollution to a more proactive and positive commitment to protect the environment from harm and degradation. Commitment to protect the environment can include pollution prevention, sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, etc.;
  4. An emphasis on environmental performance improvement rather than on improving the management system itself which includes reducing natural resource use, emissions, wastes;
  5. Applying life cycle thinking to environmental issues related to the organisation’s activities, products and servicesIn addition to the current requirement to address environmental impacts associated with procured goods and service, organizations will need to extend its control and influence to the environmental impacts associated with product use and end-of-life treatment or disposal however this does not imply a requirement to do a life cycle assessment.

ISO has developed a standardised format for future management systems to help organisations integrate their multidisciplinary management systems. ISO DIS 14001 uses the ISO High Level Structure (HLS) framework which is also being used for revising ISO 9001 (Quality Management System), ISO 45001 (OHS Management System), ISO 20121 (Sustainable Events Management) etc. The HLS contains the following framework (click table below for larger image):

Website Update table 0201014

Implications of the revision

The revision to ISO 14001 will have implications for organisations implementing the standard for the first time as well as those upgrading to the revised standard, some of these include:

  1. It compels the organisation to look at how external environmental conditions such as climate change can impact their business operations and plan to take appropriate actions to deal with them;
  2. It provides a better linkage between the organisation’s environmental performance and its business planning processes and promotes the view they are not separate by getting organisations to determine risks and opportunities that arise from environmental issues both to the business and the environment;
  3. It provides a path towards sustainability without the organisation realising and being intimidated by the term ‘sustainability’. This is important especially when dealing with SMEs in a value chain.
  4. Applying life cycle thinking although not a new concept in ISO 14001 requires the organisation to look at environmental impacts upstream and downstream in its value chain. Unless the industry the organisation belongs to has an established supply chain infrastructure such as the automotive industry it may find it challenging to identify those impacts and deal with them appropriately.
  5. The HLS facilitates the integration of multidisciplinary management systems in the organisation which would help in minimising resources used in implementing management systems.
  6. New terms such as ‘risk’ is used in the HLS and adopted by new or revised standards including ISO 14001. However the term has different meanings in other standards and this raises a degree of complication when the organisation attempts to develop and implement integrated management systems.
  7. Organisations certified to ISO 14001:2004 are granted a three-year transition period after the revision has been published to migrate their environmental management system to the new edition of the standard. After the transition period, organisations that want to obtain third party certification will have to seek certification to the new version of the standard. The former version, ISO 14001:2004, and any certification to it, will be out of date.

Need More Information?

Email us at mail@shemsi.com and our Senior Consultant, Amarjit Kaur a technical expert from Malaysia on the ISO TC 207 SC1 Working Group revising the standard will provide further information. Let us know if you need help in adopting the changes in your EMS. SHEMSI will be offering an IEMA STS Making the Transition to ISO 14001:2015 (IEMA Certified) training course soon in the coming months (see the ‘Events’ tab on our homepage).

If you are interested in commenting on the DIS please contact SIRIM at stddevelop@sirim.my.

Watch on Youtube for more information on the ISO 14001 revision.


The following overall updates are provided on new and revised ISO standards related to environmental management (and sustainability to a certain extent).

ISO TC207 Environmental Management

TC207/SC1 has issued ISO CD 14004 Environmental management system — General guidelines on principles systems and support techniques for comment and these will be discussed at the next meeting of WG6 in South Africa in early October 2014.

TC207/SC1 has issued ISO Draft International Standard (DIS) 14001 Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use with comments closing in November 2014.

TC207/SC4 has issued ISO Committee Draft (CD) 14034 Environmental management–Environmental technology verification (ETV). The standard specifies principles and requirements, and provides guidance for those managing and conducting verification activities. Comment will be considered at the next meeting of SC4 in South Korea in October 2014.

TC207/SC5 has published a new standard entitled ISO 14046 Environmental management – Water footprint – Principles, requirements and guidelines that are intended to provide decision makers in industry, government and non-governmental organizations with a means to estimate the potential impact of water use and pollution, based on a life-cycle assessment.

TC207/SC5 has recommended for publication ISO Technical Standard (TS) 14072 Life cycle assessment — Requirements and guidelines for Organizational Life Cycle Assessment and ISO 14071 Life cycle assessment — Critical review processes and reviewer competencies — Additional requirements and guidelines to ISO 14044:2006, was published in May 2014.

TC207/WG9 has issued for ISO CD 14055-1Guidelines for establishing good practice for combating land degradation and desertification – Part 1 Good practice for comment which will be considered at the next meeting of WG9 in Mexico in October 2014.

ISO TC248 Sustainability criteria for bioenergy

TC248 will issue ISO DIS 13065 – Sustainability criteria for bioenergy for a three month comment period in August 2014. The Standard defines principles, criteria and indicators (PCIs) for the assessment of sustainability. It covers all facets of sustainability relevant to bioenergy, including environmental, social and economic aspects.

ISO TC268 Sustainable Communities

ISO TC268 has now produced three standards relating to SMART infrastructure and metrics and has issued ISO Committee Draft (CD) 37101 Sustainable development and resilience of communities — Management system — General principles and requirements the comments on which will be considered at its next meeting in France in mid-September 2014.

ISO PC283 Occupational health and safety management systems

ISO PC283 has issued for comment ISO CD 45001 Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidelines for use. This standard is intended to replace OHSAS 18001. The standard is a “sister” standard to ISO 14001 dealing with occupational health and safety. Comments are due to be considered at the next meeting of PC 283 in Africa in early December 2014.

ISO PC277 Sustainable procurement

ISO PC 277 has recently issued ISO CD 18617 Sustainable Purchasing. This standard provides guidance to organizations integrating sustainable development within procurement, independent of their activity or size, as described in ISO 26000 “Guidance on social responsibility”. The future ISO 18617 will standardize guidelines and principles for all stakeholders working with internal and external purchasing processes – including contractors, suppliers, buyers, and local authorities – as part of an effort to demonstrate good practices for sustainable purchasing.

ISO/TMB Social Responsibility

Based on the results from the systematic review process carried out earlier this year ISO 26000:2010 has been confirmed and kept as it is. It was decided that the next systematic review should begin within the next three years.

(References: www.iso.org and www.smsonline.gov.my)