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ISO's focus on climate change: adapting to new norms

15 MAY 2024

Recent amendments to ISO management system standards have introduced two new statements of text regarding climate change. In this article, we explore the implications for users of these standards and what to expect during management systems audits.

In alignment with this critical need, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) committed – through its 2021 London Declaration – to making climate change a strategic priority across its organisation. Building on this commitment, in February 2024, ISO implemented amendments to all existing management system standards. Affected standards include ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 50001, ISO 22301, ISO/IEC 27001, ISO 28000 and ISO 22000, among others. The comprehensive list of affected standards is available here.

The changes – designed to integrate climate change considerations into organisations’ management system frameworks – were effective immediately, but what exactly does this mean for standard users?

Implications for your management system

A new statement of text relating to climate change has been added to clauses 4.1 and 4.2 of the standards, however, many certified organisations will have already recognised climate change as a crucial element within their management systems. If your organisation has not yet considered the impact of climate change, it is essential to assess its relevance to your strategic direction and management system.

It should be noted that climate change considerations will vary across organisations and management systems. For example, the impact on an organisation operating a certificated quality management system could be very different to one working to a health and safety management system, but both management systems should demonstrate consideration of climate change. 

What to expect during audits

In upcoming audits, LRQA auditors will assess and evaluate the inclusion of climate change considerations within the context of your organisation. Auditors will be focusing on several key questions:

  • Have you considered the impact of climate change on your organisation? If not, why?
  • Where climate change is considered to be relevant, how does it affect your management system, products, or services?
  • Are you aware of any statutory or regulatory requirements related to climate change that may affect your organisation?
  • Have you set specific objectives and planned mitigation activities to address climate change?
  • Have clients or other stakeholders expressed concerns about climate change in relation to your operations?

If climate change has not been demonstrated to have been considered during your audit, a finding will be raised. Organisations must address this similarly to other findings by reviewing them and implementing the correct considerations to ensure compliance.

Certificate updates

As the standards have been amended rather than entirely revised, there will be no changes to existing certificates. However, the emphasis on climate change within these standards will certainly influence future audits and certifications.

Carl Rogers, Global Quality and Governance Manager, LRQA, said: “The recent amendments to ISO management system standards underpin the critical importance of integrating climate change into operational frameworks. The impact of climate change is far reaching, all organisations working to certificated management systems will have the opportunity to demonstrate their positive contribution to minimising those climate change challenges.”

Clients are encouraged to watch for any future guidance issued by ISO or other involved parties. LRQA is happy to support with queries and next steps via clients’ usual points of contact.

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