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The revised ISO14001 – A view from the Environment Manager

Category : Environment
Capgemini Environment Manager and Group ISO 14001 subject matter expert, Maria Hughes, recently attended the IEMA "Future of Environmental Management" conference in London to discuss the revisions to the ISO 14001 standard. Here is her report:
It might not sound like one of the most exciting days out but a recent conference at the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) proved both thought-provoking and more than a little daunting.
The IEMA conference was essentially a deep-dive into the updated ISO14001 environmental management.
For the uninitiated, environmental management began back in 1992 when BSI Group launched BS 7750. This became the template for the ISO 14000 series released in 1996.  The last review of 14001 was in 2004 which was classed a “lite revision” so we are due (some would say overdue) a major revision to the standard and that’s exactly what we are getting. 
The conference, entitled “The Future of Environmental Management”, examined the revisions in some detail and went on to discuss the ways in which companies should start to prepare themselves whether they are looking for certification or transitioning from the current version.
The day began with Martin Baxter, Executive Director for Policy and Engagement from IEMA, providing the overview of the changes.  The key points were:
1.       Currently in DIS – Draft International Standard
2.       The decision to revise the standard was taken in November 2012
3.       By the end of 2013 301,647 certificates had been issued across the globe – see appendix A for breakdown
Thought process around the revision –
1.       To build stronger links between EMS and overall strategic direction and decision making
2.       Consider impacts on a changing environment
3.       Place greater emphasis on managing impacts across the value chain
4.       Integrate EMS requirements within core organisational processes
5.       Strengthen requirements on demonstration of legal compliance and performance improvement
Potential implications –
1.       Integration of environmental management into core organisational processes and strategic decision making
2.       Life-cycle perspective and value-chain
3.       Striking a balance on material environmental issues – control v far do you go?
4.       Understanding the link between organisational risks and environmental risks (and opportunities)
5.       Knowledge and understanding of compliance status
6.       Longer-term challenge (2020s) v short-term internal resource constraints
7.       Ease of use – SMEs, developing countries
Implications therefore on organisational capability to implement and maintain new requirements:
i.e. Leaders, those implementing the new requirements, internal and external auditors
All these issues are included in the current draft.
Summary of the day and the new standard
Likes –
·         New structure
·         Focus of building environment into core business
·         Consideration of the impact of the environment on the organisation rather than just the converse
·         Greater emphasis on leadership and performance
·         More emphasis on value chain / lifecycle thinking
·         Puts the environment back on the agenda
Concerns that have been highlighted –
·         Resources that may be needed
·         Impact of the standard on SME’s
·         Demonstration of value add
·         Interpretation of new clauses and expectations of auditors (internal and external)
·         Audit approach and scope
·         Competency of certifying bodies
·         Potential for companies to withdraw their certifications
At Capgemini, it’s my job to ensure that our ISO14001 accreditation is maintained in many of the countries where we hold this certification. These revisions are undoubtedly a step change in management and reporting of our carbon impact – and a welcome change at that when considering the sustainability of our planet.
The immediate challenge for me and my Sustainability colleagues, though, is to articulate the value to the business that comes with the additional effort required to maintain ISO14001.
Maria Hughes is the Environment Manager for Capgemini UK and Capgemini India. Maria is also the Group's subject matter expert on ISO 14001 and has been instrumental in achieving ISO 14001 accreditation for several Capgemini companies globally. Maria is an Associate Member of the IEMA and holds an IEMA Diploma in Sustainable Development.

Maria is the mother of three daughters and a recent convert to white-water rafting! 

About the author

Brian Doherty
Brian Doherty
Brian Doherty is the Sustainability Communications and Change lead. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years in roles ranging from mainframe support technician to business development and marketing. Brian has been a champion for green IT services for some time and is responsible for ensuring coherent and meaningful communications about Capgemini's environmental sustainability, community engagement, responsible delivery obligations and market presence.

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