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ISO 14001:2015 proposes an increasingly strategic approach to environmental management – work with SGS to transition to the new edition.

Pipelines in sunset

The publication of ISO 14001:2015 in September 2015 is the final stage in the revision process of the standard. This version replaces ISO 14001:2004, though there is a three-year transition period.

We offer a suite of solutions to help your organization’s transition from its current ISO 14001:2004 certification to meet the requirements of ISO 14001:2015.

ISO 14001:2015 – the main changes

The ISO 14001:2015 adopts the High Level Structure specified in ISO Annex SL. This structure is now the required framework for all new and revised management system standards.

The ISO team responsible for the revision process (subcommittee ISO/TC 207/SC1) has identified the following emerging changes as a result of their revision.

Strategic environmental management

There is a new requirement to understand the context of an organization when determining external and internal issues relating to its activities and the environment. Actions to address these issues within the Environmental Management System (EMS) are also required.


A new clause has been added with particular responsibilities for top-level management to express their leadership and commitment to environmental management. Top-level management may assign this responsibility to others, but will retain accountability.

Protecting the environment

Environmental policy shall incorporate a commitment to the ‘protection of the environment’, this includes ‘prevention of pollution’ and ‘other’ commitments, such as sustainable resource use, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of biodiversity and ecosystems.

Environmental performance

The key focus is on improving performance related to the management of environmental aspects. The organization shall decide on criteria to evaluate its environmental performance, using correct indicators.

Lifecycle Thinking

The organization will need to extend its control and influence of its environmental impacts from raw material acquisition/generation to end-of-life treatment. This does not imply a requirement to perform a lifecycle assessment (LCA), however the organization will need to carefully consider the stages of product/service that can be controlled or influenced.


Emphasis on internal and external communication, and equal treatment of both, has been added. The decision to communicate externally is retained by the organization while taking into account its compliance obligations.


The term ‘documented information’ is used instead of ‘documents’ and ‘records’. The organization has the flexibility to conclude when ‘procedures’ are required. Any format (paper, cloud, etc.) would be valid.

ISO 14001: 2004 Transition

Organizations already certified to ISO 14001:2004 have three years from publication of the new version in which to transfer. This transition period ends in September 2018.

How can SGS help?

We provide training courses to help you understand the requirements of ISO 14001:2015 and risk-based thinking. We are the first professional learning and development organization to offer one-day courses as an IRCA Approved CPD.

Our experts can carry out a gap analysis against the requirements of ISO 14001:2015 to make the transition smooth and transparent. This exercise will provide your organization with structured assistance to highlight the extent to which existing systems and controls cover the requirements of ISO 14001:2015, or to identify an implementation action plan, where needed.

SGS will be offering ISO 14001:2015 certification to both new and existing clients.

Contact your local SGS office today and start the ISO 14001 transition process.