ISOQAR is advising organisations to take note of the proposed changes to the content of the standard which is currently due to be launched in January 2015.

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).

Building upon the requirements of the 2004 version of ISO 14001 the revised version will also consider the recommendations contained in the ‘Future Challenges of EMS and ISO 14001’ report produced by the ISO TC/207/SC1 study group.

The Committee Draft of ISO 14001also aligns with the ten sections of Annex SL.

Key areas which are likely to change include:

1. Scope – the scope of the EMS has been expanded to include external impacts on the organisation.

2. Terms and definitions – this section will reference common terms and core definitions outlined in Annex SL and those specific to an EMS.

3. 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.

4. 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).

5. Policy – policy commitments have been broadened to include supporting environmental protection. Examples, including climate change mitigation and adaption, are given.

6. Environmental aspects – this clause includes consideration of a life cycle perspective when evaluating environmental aspects.

7. Legal requirements and other requirements – this has is replaced by ‘Legal requirements and voluntary obligations’.

8. Environmental objectives – the committee draft requires that performance indicators are to be defined for each environmental objective.

9. 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.

10. 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.