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ISO 14001:2015 UPDATE

The latest milestone in the ISO 14001 revision process was reached on 1 July 2014 when ISO/DIS 14001 was issued. The first formal draft describes the potential requirements of the revised version of ISO 14001 but it does give an indication on what might be included in the final version of the standard planned to be published in Q3 2015.

The scope of the revision by the ISO 14001:2015 subcommittee (ISO/TC 207/SC 1) responsible for the review consists of:

  • Incorporation of Annex SL framework; ISO/DIS 14001 adopts the clause structure specified in Annex SL which is now the required framework for all new and revised ISO Management System Standards (MSS);
  • Consideration of ISO report “Future Challenges for EMS” and ISO 14001 Continual Improvement Survey;
  • Maintenance and improvement of current ISO 14001 principles and requirements.

ISO has identified the following emerging changes as a result of the revision:

  1. Strategic Environmental Management
  2. Leadership
  3. Protecting the environment
  4. Environmental performance
  5. Lifecycle thinking
  6. Communication
  7. Documentation

Strategic Environmental Management

There is a new requirement to understand the context of the organization determining external and internal issues relevant to the organization and the environment. Particular focus is on the needs and expectations of interested parties that can affect, or be affected by, the organization. In this context the organization shall identify risk associated with threats and opportunities, significant environmental aspects and compliance obligations and determine actions to address them within the EMS.

Leadership: Commitment to environmental management

A new clause has been added with specific responsibilities for Top Management to demonstrate their leadership and commitment to environmental management.

From prevention to protection

Environmental Policy shall include a commitment to the “protection of the environment”. There is no definition about this but it includes “prevention of pollution” and other commitments, such as sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, etc.

Improving environmental performance

Now the emphasis is on improving performance related to the management of environmental aspects. The organization shall determine criteria to evaluate its environmental performance, using appropriate indicators.

Lifecycle thinking

Organizations 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.


Equal emphasis on external and internal communications has been added. The decision to communicate externally is retained by the organization but taking into account its compliance obligations.


The term ‘documented information’, is used instead of ‘documents’ and ‘records’. The organization has the flexibility to determine when ‘procedures’ are needed.


SGS can provide awareness training to help our prospects and clients understand the requirements of ISO/ DIS 14001. More information on ISO 14001 and an overview on Annex SL could be found on SGS - ISO 14001 website.


A copy of the ISO/DIS 14001 can be purchased in the ISO Store.

Official ISO website for the subcommittee (ISO/TC 207/SC 1) with responsibility for Environmental management systems (EMS) and ISO 14001 standard.

Further information and updates on the development of ISO 14001:2015 and its publication schedule will be issued by SGS as they become available.

For more details, please contact:

Outi Helena Armstrong 
SGS SA, 1 place des Alpes
CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland
t: +41 22 739 9161
m: +41 79 251 8218


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