"Climate Action Amendments": Climate change is integrated into Management System standards | Istituto Giordano

"Climate Action Amendments": Climate change is integrated into Management System standards

(Pubbl. 26/06/2024)
In February 2024, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) updated two points in the management system standards. These modifications respond to the need to integrate the impact of climate change to ensure the effectiveness of management systems in line with the 2021 London Declaration.

Climate Change: What Changes in the ISO?

For some time, ISO has been working on climate change through the development of specific standards. As part of these activities, a modification to the structure of the management system standards has been approved to include an explicit reference to climate change in two points.

The update clarifies existing requirements without changing their overall intent. According to ISO, these additions do not introduce new requirements but specify better what should already be understood and implemented by organizations with certified management systems.

These clarifications are intended to emphasize the importance of considering climate change among the external factors that can influence systems, without changing the specific meaning of each management system. Below are the requirements subject to changes.

1. Point 4.1 of the new guidelines now requires organizations to explicitly understand and consider climate change-related risks and opportunities in the business context analysis phase.

    “The organization must understand how relevant climate change-related factors can be.”

    This implies that organizations will need to carefully analyze the impact of their processes on climate change and plan sustainable strategies at the core of their activities.

2. Point 4.2 highlights the importance of understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties concerning climate change. Stakeholders may have requirements related to climate change.

    “Relevant interested parties may have needs related to climate change.”

    This implies that organizations must be sensitive to the demands and concerns of their stakeholders regarding environmental issues and possibly take action to improve their practices and reduce environmental impact.

What Should Organizations with Certified Management Systems Do?

Organizations will need to include “climate change” in their context analysis and risk analysis, meaning they must consider climate change aspects and risks when developing and maintaining their management systems.

Climate change-related aspects and risks may vary depending on the management system or sector, influencing particular sectors such as energy production or agriculture, and may depend on the organization's specifics, from its geographical location to workforce dynamics.

**How Will the Audit Activity Be Conducted?**

During the audit, it will be verified how organizations assess climate change in the implementation phase of management systems concerning risk analysis and the needs and expectations of interested parties. If deemed relevant to the management system, it must be included in business objectives and mitigation activities.

If the organization does not consider climate change a relevant issue for its management system, the auditors will note the organization’s evaluations that led to this choice.

Where a certified organization cannot demonstrate that it has considered climate change in defining its management system, this will be recorded using the usual management system tools (findings, actions, etc.).

Do Already Certified Organizations Need a New Certificate?

A revised certificate is not necessary, considering that:

- The year of publication of each standard has not changed;
- The scope of the certified management system does not undergo modifications;
- There is no significant impact on the effectiveness of the certified management system;
- The methods and actions that certified organizations will adopt due to the new requirement will resemble the methods and actions they would apply in case of future changes in any other contextual issue they already address within the management system.

In all upcoming audits, including initial ones, the aspect related to the new amendments will need to be analyzed.

How Much Time Will Organizations Have to Implement the Changes?

For new clients seeking certification for the first time, these “modifications” must be included in the implemented management system before the certification audit.

For already certified organizations, a transition plan is not necessary; the updates must be included in the management system as soon as the next audit is scheduled and, in any case, by February 23, 2025.