Incorporating Climate Change within the Context of your Management System

Considering whether climate change is an issue relevant to your management system will be a requirement of many management system standards in the future, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001.   

Here we look at how organisations can prepare for the changes to the Common Clause Structure.

What is Changing?

In 2023 the ballot closed on the latest changes to ISO’s Guide 83 Harmonised structure for MSS with guidance for use.

Two changes were agreed and published in February 2024:

Within 4.1 Understanding the organisation and its context,
the following requirement has been added:

“The organisation shall determine whether climate change is a relevant issue.”

Within 4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties
the following note has been added:

“NOTE: Relevant interested parties can have requirements related to climate change.”

As this has been added to the harmonised structure, the text of the change will filter out to all management system standards, regardless of whether they have an environmental or sustainability theme.

When is the new requirement coming in?

The new text has already been published in ISO 42001:2023 the Artificial Intelligence Management System standard and will continue to be rolled out as other standards are published or revised.

In the mean time, an IAF Communique was issued in February 2024 stating that this is a “Clarification” rather than a new requirement, and therefore this apply immediately.

Organisations who have already implemented management system standards should ensure their application of clauses 4.1 and 4.2 covers this clarification ahead of their next external audit.

What do I need to consider about climate change?

Many organisations have already considered the impact of climate change on their businesses as a relevant internal/external issue or a risk on the risk assessment.

This is particularly true of most ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems.

However, other systems such as ISO 27001 for Information Security or ISO 9001 for Quality may not have such a clear link to climate change, and organisations will need to explicitly consider it.

The good news is that this doesn’t necessarily mean a major change to your management system.  

The requirement is purely to “determine whether climate change is a relevant issue” and organisations may decided the based on the context of the organisation and it’s management system, climate change is NOT relevant.

However, organisations should not just the direct impact on their operations but also how climate change could affect their related supply chains, individuals and societies.

Many organisations are now measuring their carbon footprint and taking steps to offset or reduce this, which is arguably evidence of them determining climate change to be a relevant issue in some way.

Review & Update your Management System

Assent’s ISO Consultants can help you address this new requirements and review your management system generally to ensure it continues to meet your intended outcomes.

Contact us for more information.

More information

Robert Clements
Robert Clements
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