Environmental professionals call for more business friendly ISO 14001
Green accounting news – by GreenWise staff
25th June 2012
Environmental professionals are calling for the world’s leading environmental standard, ISO 14001, to be revised so it is accessible to all businesses and doesn’t treat the environment as a "bolt-on" but as an integrated part of company strategy.
The Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment
(IEMA), the leading membership organisation for environmental professionals in the UK, said it supports revisions to the ISO 14001
that will see the language and the structure of the environmental management system
simplified, but it said it also wants changes to the standard so it integrates the environment fully into business strategy.
The call follows in-depth research with 400 environmental professionals working with business and the public sector and a survey of IEMA members that found 90 per cent of professionals supported proposals for aligning environmental management systems with an organisation’s strategy.
"The recommendation that achieved the strongest support from environment professionals was to require the environment to be integrated into strategic decision-making," said Martin Baxter, executive director of IEMA and UK lead representative for the revisions of ISO 14001.
Baxter said there was a good economic case for integrating the environment into business strategy and ISO 14001 needed to reflect this. "Why wouldn’t a company not want to become more competitive? Government research shows UK business could make £23 billion savings a year
through low cost or no cost [environmental] measures," he said.
ISO 14001 is now the most successful voluntary approach to improving environmental performance in businesses and public sector organisations in the world, with over 250,000 organisations in 155 countries certified against the standard’s requirements.
Last week, it was joined by ISO 20121, a new standard to support organisers of events to integrate sustainability within their activities. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Para Olympic Games was a major contributor to the new ISO 20121 and the London 2012 Games are seen as a blueprint for sustainable development.
But ISO 14001 which has been around for much longer is seen as too complex and technical, especially for smaller companies and organisations.
ISO 14001 revisions
To address these challenges, ISO 14001 is currently being revised by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and representatives from ISO and national standards bodies such as BSI, are meeting in Thailand this week to work on a revised draft.
"The structure of the ISO 14001 is being streamlined which should be good for organisations," said Baxter. "Secondly, the language used in it will be more accessible to people, so there will be much more reference to business risks and opportunities, rather than technical language that may alienate, not just the user, but others in the company."
ISO expects to have a revised draft of ISO 14001 ready for consultation for its member bodies by the end of the year and for a full public consultation on the standard to begin next year.
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