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In September 2015, the standard ISO 14001:2015, Environmental Management Systems – Requirements with guidance for use, was published. This is the final stage in the ISO 14001 revision process.

This new version replaces ISO 14001:2004. However, there is a three year transition period.

NEW IN ISO 14001

Environmental Management System (EMS) requirements are now presented in a more consistent manner. Terminology and definitions have been updated, some to conform with other management systems standards, such as ISO 9001. These changes were implemented as a consequence of the adoption of the high level structure specified in ISO Annex SL, which is now the required framework for all new and revised management system standards.

ISO 14001:2015 requires an understanding of the context of the organisation to be obtained by identifying external and internal issues relevant to the organisation and the environment. Particular focus is on the needs and expectations of interested parties that can affect, or be affected by, the organisation. Within the determined context, the organisation must identify risks associated with:

  • Managing threats and opportunities
  • Responding to significant issues in the environment
  • Meeting compliance obligations 

It must then identify the actions needed to address these risks within the EMS.

Other emerging changes identified by the team responsible for the revision process (subcommittee ISO/TC 207/SC1) include enhanced or new requirements regarding:

  • Leadership
  • Protection of the environment
  • Environmental performance
  • Lifecycle thinking
  • Communication
  • Documentation


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

SGS will issue further information on ISO 14001:2015 in the future.