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ISO and IAF Embrace Climate Change in
Management Systems Standards

The International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have released a joint communiqué stating their view of the increasing concerns about climate change and its wide-ranging effects. The statement emphasizes the need for integrating climate change considerations into management system standards.

ISO has adopted a resolution in line with the ISO London Declaration on Climate Change. This resolution introduces two new textual statements to several existing management systems standards for addressing climate change.

The Decision Regarding Climate Change Considerations

To assess the impact of Climate Change on achieving intended management system outcomes, these new changes will be integrated into all upcoming standards currently being developed or revised.

Initially, the changes have been presented as amendments to the existing standards. The amended text will become part of the Harmonized Structure specified in Appendix 2 of the Annex SL in the ISO/IEC Directives Part 1 Consolidated ISO Supplement. These standards amendments were published on February 23, 2024.

The Two New Statements

Clause 4.1: “Understanding the organization and its context. The organization shall determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and that affect its ability to achieve the intended result(s) of its XXX management system.”

The statement added in this clause: “The organization shall determine whether climate change is a relevant issue.”

Clause 4.2: “Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties. The organization shall determine:

  • the interested parties that are relevant to the XXX management system.
  • the relevant requirements of these interested parties.
  • which of these requirements will be addressed through the XXX management system.

The statement added in this clause: “NOTE: Relevant interested parties can have requirements related to climate change.”

The Intent of the Changes

The primary aim is to ensure organizations consider Climate Change issues concerning the effectiveness of their management system.

The fundamental requirements of clauses 4.1 and 4.2 remain unaltered. However, the new statements added aim to prevent the oversight of Climate Change and make it necessary to consider it during the design and implementation of management systems.

How the ISO Standards Will be Affected?

It is clarified that the impact of Climate Change can vary across different management system components, such as, for instance, in Quality Management Systems or Health and Safety Management Systems. Thus, audits will not disproportionately focus on Climate Change, but its significance as an external factor requiring consideration will be emphasized.

According to the ISO and IAD communiqué, while Climate Change is crucial, the standards have always mandated the consideration of all issues impacting management systems, and many organizations implementing MSS are likely already incorporating Climate Change considerations.

What is Expected from Certified Organizations?

Since the stated changes are viewed as clarifications rather than new requirements, and the overall intent of the requirements remains unchanged, a comprehensive transition program is deemed unnecessary in this instance. However, organizations should consider the guidance provided below.

Certified organizations must integrate Climate Change considerations and risks into the development, maintenance, and effectiveness of their management systems. Climate Change, alongside other relevant issues, must be assessed for its significance and, if applicable, included in the risk evaluation within the management systems standards.

In What Ways Does MSECB Ensure the Effective Accomplishment of These Changes?

Given that organizations generally already consider issues related to Climate Change in the context of their management systems, MSECB has incorporated the new text into the audits upon publication. If a certified organization fails to demonstrate consideration of all relevant external and internal issues, including Climate Change, appropriate findings will be raised, following standard practices.

Despite the management systems standards undergoing the ISO amendment process, it will not be necessary to issue a revised certificate, considering that the publication year of each management systems standard remains unchanged, and the scope of application for the certified management systems remains unaffected.

As the significance of an accredited certification body lies in ensuring the integrity of ISO certification processes, MSECB, as an accredited certification body, is your trusted partner for adapting these Climate Change considerations.

The MSECB Wrap-up

At MSECB, we consider the integration of Climate Change considerations as a vital part of creating more sustainable business practices. These changes align with our vision of making our client’s path to excellence easier, embracing transformation toward a better and more sustainable future.

With MSECB by your side, you can be confident in the reliability and credibility of your ISO certification journey and help create a sustainable environment for the next generations.

About MSECB

MSECB is specialized in the certification of management systems on a wide range of international standards. As a global provider of audit and certification services, MSECB offers expertise in multiple fields, with a focus on Information Security and Privacy; Quality, HSE, and Sustainability; and Corporate Governance and Resilience. 

MSECB has earned an international reputation for integrity, value, and best practice by providing this assurance through the evaluation and certification of organizations with rigorous, internationally recognized competence requirements. Our mission is to provide prompt audit and certification services with integrity and excellent customer service that add value and give global recognition to our clients. For more information, visit our website: www.msecb.com.