Inclusion Of Climate Change Within Management System Standards

Introduction UKAS Update 

IAF and ISO have published a joint communique, highlighting the changes being made to a number of Management Systems Standards (MSS), in the form of additional text highlighting the importance of Climate Change as a consideration within the organisational context for the management system concerned.

As the joint communique explains, the changes having been instigated in response to the London Declaration on Climate Action. Following on from this, the IAF has issued a Decision in answer to a technical paper on this topic as discussed at the 2023 IAF Technical Committee meeting.

IAF Technical Committee (TC) Searchable Decision Log

The purpose of this Technical Bulletin, in line with the IAF Decision, is to clarify the expectations for management systems CBs and their certified clients, Certification Bodies (CBs), noting that, as stated in the joint communiqué:

“The overall intent of the requirements for clauses 4.1 and 4.2 remain unchanged; these clauses already include the need for the organization to consider all internal and external issues that can impact the effectiveness of their management system; these new inclusions are assuring that Climate Change is considered within the management system and that it is an external factor that is important enough for our community to require organizations to consider it now.”

Recognising that the above states that the overall intent of the requirements remain unchanged, and with this amendment being treated as a clarification rather than a new requirement, a full transition programme is not needed for this situation. However, the guidance below should be considered.

Expectations on Certification Bodies

Certified organisations should already be determining all internal and external issues that are relevant to the management system’s purpose, its strategic direction and that affect its ability to achieve the intended result(s). Over time these issues are likely to change for an organisation and this includes climate change which has been clarified by the amendment in Clause 4.1 and 4.2. CBs will need to continue to audit these clauses to ensure that all internal and external issues, which includes Climate, Change have been determined by their clients as relevant or not and if so, considered in the development and effectiveness of the management system(s). The inclusion of Climate Change in the new amendment only provides clarity to the existing requirement.

If it was considered not to be a relevant issue by the organisation for its management system, the CB is expected to ensure the effectiveness of the organisation’s process to make this determination and implementing related actions, when applicable.

UKAS Activity

In accordance with the IAF decision, UKAS will, as part of the ongoing accreditation cycle, review CB activities to ensure they are confirming that their certified clients have considered all internal aspects as required by clauses 4.1 and 4.2, including the issue of Climate Change.


The changes to the standards were published on 22 February 2024. As noted above, issues related to Climate Change affecting the context of an organisations’ management system(s) are typically already being considered by organisations.

Therefore, following publication, certification bodies need to include the new text in their auditing of the organisation and its context. As with normal practice, where a certified organisation cannot demonstrate that all external and internal issues, including climate change, have been determined as relevant or not, a suitable finding should be raised.


The IAF Decision states that an update to the certificate is not necessary on the grounds that: –

the publication year of each MSS will not change.
there is no change in the scope of application for the certified MS.
there is no significant impact on the effectiveness of the certified MS.
the change does not affect the current required activities by the certified organisation apart from highlighting one aspect.


The updates unpacked
To enhance organisational awareness and response to climate change, ISO has introduced two critical changes within Clause 4:

Original Clause 4.1: “Understanding the organisation and its context. The organisation 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.”

This clause now explicitly includes the statement: “The organisation shall determine whether climate change is a relevant issue.”
Original Clause 4.2: “Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties. The organisation 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 clause now also states: “Note: Relevant interested parties can have requirements related to climate change.”
While the overall intent of the requirements for clauses 4.1 and 4.2 remain unchanged, these new inclusions ensure that climate change is considered within the management system.

The standards undergoing transformation
A wide array of standards have been updated to reflect this shift, encompassing a diverse range of sectors from Quality management (ISO 9001) to Energy management (ISO 50001) and beyond. This comprehensive update highlights the universal relevance and urgency of addressing climate change across all aspects of business.

Find out if your standard(s) has been updated here

What do these changes mean for your business?
If your organisation already holds certification, you will not need a new certificate issued and there is no need to transition to a new version of the standard. The focus is on enhancing the scope and effectiveness of existing certifications to encompass climate change considerations.

However, you are now required to ensure that climate change considerations are embedded within the fabric of your management system(s).

The approach is not a one-size-fits-all and the changes acknowledge that the relevance and impact of climate change can vary significantly across different industries, organisational scopes, and geographical locations. Therefore, your business must determine whether climate change is relevant or not and if so, you need to ensure climate change aspects and risks are considered within your management system(s).

If you operate multiple management systems and determine climate change is relevant you must consider climate change within the scope of each management system standard.

NQA’s role in ensuring compliance and commitment
Certification bodies, such as NQA, play a crucial role in this update. We are tasked with ensuring that your organisation has appropriately considered climate change as a relevant issue within your management system(s).

This involves verifying that your company has integrated climate change considerations into your objectives and mitigation activities, where applicable.

If your organisation deems climate change irrelevant to your management system, certification bodies must evaluate the effectiveness of the organisation’s process in making this determination.

The new requirement specifies that organisations shall determine whether climate change is a relevant issue and whether relevant interested parties have requirements related to climate change. If found to be a relevant issue, climate change needs to be considered in the development and implementation of the organisation’s management system.

The climate change amendment applies to all Type A ISO management system standards, i.e. those that specify requirements and to which companies can be certified. This includes the following standards: ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 50001, and ISO 27001.



Getting started with Compliant

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