The new 14001 environmental management standard is officially published today by ISO. It is based on the common framework to all management system standards, the Annex SL (HLS). After a 3-year transition period, any certificate 14001:2004 will no longer be valid (from semptember 2018).

The key changes in the new 14001:2015 standard are:

The emphasis on leadership (Top Management’s key role and commitments)

Top Management: A person or group of people who directs and controls an organisation at the highest level

The focus on risk management (risk assessment must be based on Environmental aspects, Legal requirement and Context of the organisation)
Emphasis on objectives measurement and change (association of “continual improvement” concept with environmental performance for a more effective approach). The EMS needs to be continually improved in order to enhance environmental performance… To sum up, it’s a PDCA approach.
Support requirements (resources, competence , awareness, communication, documented information)
More prescriptive requirements to assessing environmental performance
LCP (Life Cycle Perspective from design to final disposal). A life-cycle perspective does not require a detailed life cycle assessment; a simple consideration of the life cycle stages which can be controlled or influenced would be sufficient.
Evaluation, as the interpretation of results and analysis (not so new to managers) is made explicit in the standard for the first time. This may be a new challenge for internal audits.
Many of these key changes aim to ensure an organization really is instigating greener practices and do commit to acting in an environmentally responsible manner, instead of just reaping the benefits of appearing to do so (i.e. greenwashing)

Greenwashing: any form of marketing or public relations that links a corporate, political, religious or nonprofit organization to a positive association with environmental issues for an unsustainable product, service, or practice

Anyway, I always remind my clients that certifications based on a voluntary approach do not mean full compliance or being unexpectedly named to Fortune 50’s list.

Here you can find a preview of the 14001:2015 standard