The latest milestone in the ISO 14001 revision process was reached on 2 July 2015 with the issue of ISO/FDIS 14001. This document is the final draft before the publication of the standard (scheduled for September 2015).
The convention at ISO is that only editorial changes to the text are permitted between the issue of the FDIS and final publication of the standard, therefore we can be reasonably sure that FDIS 14001 contains the requirements of the revised version of ISO 14001.
NEW IN ISO 14001
The FDIS 14001 adopts the High Level Structure specified in ISO Annex SL, which is now the required framework for all new and revised management system standards.The ISO team responsible for the revision process (subcommittee ISO/TC 207/SC1) has identified the following emerging changes as a result of their revision. (Comments in italics are mine)
Strategic environmental management
There is a new requirement to comprehend the context of the organisation determining external and internal issues pertinent to the organisation and the environment, with actions to address them within the Environmental Management System (EMS).
14001 now embeds environmental and sustainability thinking into the high level strategy, vision and policy planning aspects of an organisation and project
A new clause has been added with particular responsibilities for top management to express their leadership and commitment to environmental management. Top management may assign this responsibility to others but retain accountability.
14001 calls for increased accountability for the leadership (CSE, MD) of an organisation or project to ensure ongoing commitment and engagement with environment and sustainability activities in the organisation.
Protecting the environment
Environmental policy shall incorporate a commitment to the ‘protection of the environment’. There is no definition about ‘protection’ that includes ‘prevention of pollution’ and ‘other’ commitments, such as sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, etc.
The 14001 change from protection to prevention is significant, requiring a proactive approach and can be seen to move closer to a restorative thinking towards the environment
The key focus is on improving performance related to the management of environmental aspects. The organisation shall decide on criteria to evaluate its environmental performance, using correct indicators.
Again a significant and proactive change: from monitoring to improving performance
Organisations will need to extend its control and influence to the environmental impacts from raw material acquisition/generation to end-of-life treatment. This does not imply a requirement to do a life cycle assessment (LCA), just thinking carefully about the stages of product/service that can be controlled or influenced.
There will be much debate on this 14001 change, but indicates a proactive approach to design and specification that takes into account material and building(?) environmental impact through to end of life, encouraging more design for re-use, deconstruction plans and circular economy thinking
Emphasis on internal and external communication, and equal treatment of both has been added. The decision to communicate externally is retained by the organisation whilst taking into account its compliance obligations.
Welcomed 14001 improvement for the digital and social media age of communications and transparency
The term ‘documented information’, is used instead of ‘documents’ and ‘records’. The organisation has the flexibility to conclude when ‘procedures’ are required. Any format (paper, cloud, etc.) would be valid.
Again a welcomed improvement in the digital and social media age of documentation and data management
ISO 14001:2004 TRANSITION
Organisations that are already certified to ISO 14001:2004 will have three years from formal publication of ISO 14001:2015 in which to transfer to the new version of this standard. Based on the current publication schedule, this transition period would end in September 2018.
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