30 April 2024

ISO integrates climate change into management systems

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) took a historic step on 23 February 2024, by incorporating climate change into a wide range of management system standards. This means that climate change is now a mandatory component of no less than 31 system standards, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, and ISO 50001. The changes took effect immediately upon publication.

The modifications apply to two key aspects of the standards. Article 4.1 now requires organizations to determine whether climate change is a relevant issue and Article 4.2 has been updated to state that relevant stakeholders may have requirements related to climate change. These adjustments are part of the Harmonized Structure (HS), meaning that attention to climate change is uniformly integrated into all existing and future management system standards.

Crucial external factor

While the core intent of the standards remains unchanged, climate change is now explicitly recognized as a crucial external factor. ISO's decision is a direct response to the London Declaration on Climate Action, where ISO - along with the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) - issued a statement emphasizing the importance of climate change within organizational contexts. These changes aim to encourage certified organizations to explicitly include climate change in their management systems.

No transition program

The inclusion of climate change in HS standards is considered a clarification of the standards rather than a new requirement, making a full transition program unnecessary. The changes apply to Article 4.1, where organizations are asked to understand the organization and its context and Article 4.2, which discusses the needs and expectations of stakeholders. These adjustments highlight the necessity for organizations to seriously consider climate change within their management systems.

Sustainability and environmental protection

ISO emphasizes that certified organizations are expected to regard climate change as an important aspect and risk within their management systems. Organizations with multiple management systems must ensure that climate change is assessed within the scope of each system. This step by ISO marks a significant development in the integration of climate change into business processes and underscores the increasing pressure on organizations to take sustainability and environmental protection seriously in their operations.