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IAF/ISO Joint Communiqué on the addition of Climate Change

What does it mean for you?

On 23rd February 2024 a joint communiqué was issued by the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and ISO related to two new statements of text added to the Harmonized Structure, which affect existing management systems (MS) standards, and all new standards under development or revision. This addresses the need to consider the effect of Climate Change on the ability to achieve the intended results of your management system. They are in support of the ISO London Declaration on Climate Change.

Management systems will be affected differently of course, the effect on a Quality Management System could be very different to that on a Health and Safety Management System.
The most important thing is that organizations need to establish something meaningful for themselves and industry when considering the impact of Climate Change. If you determine Climate Change is relevant, it is your organization’s decision about what it means to you, and what you do about it. The standards have always included the need for all issues affecting the management systems to be considered, you may already be taking Climate Change into account.
You may have already experienced the benefits and opportunities, including meeting changed customer requirements, and being able to address other stakeholder requirements. A company who can demonstrate their commitment to the sustainability agenda through consideration of climate change, and respective impact to their business with their management system’s support, may enjoy a competitive advantage in an increasingly complex business arena.

What is Climate Change?

Climate Change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. Such shifts can be natural, due to changes in the sun’s activity or large volcanic eruptions. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of Climate Change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.

Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions that act like a blanket wrapped around the Earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures. The main greenhouse gases that are causing Climate Change include carbon dioxide and methane. These come from using gasoline for driving a car or coal for heating a building, for example. Clearing land and cutting down forests can also release carbon dioxide. Agriculture, oil and gas operations are major sources of methane emissions. Energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use, are among the main sectors causing greenhouse gases.

Source UN webpage 

The ISO definition of Climate Change, is change in statistical description of the weather in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time, ranging from months to thousands or millions of years that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.

Source ISO 14050:2020 Environmental Management Vocabulary

What should be considered?

It is important to remember what the expected outcomes of management systems certification are. IAF and ISO define it as:
“For the defined certification scope, an organization with a certified management system has policies and processes in place to achieve the objectives defined by the scope (“ Clause 1 ”) of the specific management system standard”.

The management system standards affected are:

ISO 22301:2019 Security and resilience — Business continuity management systems
ISO 37301:2021 Compliance management systems
ISO/IEC 27001:2022 Information security, cybersecurity and privacy protection — Information security management systems
ISO 50001:2018 Energy management systems
ISO/IEC 20000-1:2018 Information technology — Service management
ISO 37001:2016 Anti-bribery management systems
ISO 44001:2017 Collaborative business relationship management systems
ISO 14001:2015 Environmental management systems
ISO 22000:2018 Food safety management systems
ISO 45001:2018 Occupational health and safety management systems
ISO 9001:2015 Quality management systems


What do I need to do?

You need to consider if Climate Change is a relevant issue within your own management system(s). If so, as with other relevant issues, you must consider it within your system’s objectives and risk evaluation, within the scope of your management system(s).

How will BSI auditors approach this changed requirement?

Certified organisations should already be determining all internal and external issues that are relevant to the management system’s purpose, its strategic direction and if that affect its ability to achieve the intended result(s). Over time these issues are likely to change for an organisation, hence the inclusion of Climate Change.
We will continue to audit these clauses to ensure that all internal and external issues, including Climate Change, have been determined by our clients as relevant or not and if so, considered in the development and effectiveness of the management system(s). There is no transition for this change, so it will be included in your next audit in 2024. If you did not consider it be a relevant issue for your management system, we will audit the effectiveness of your process to make this determination and implementing related actions, when applicable.

Is there a transition process as a result of the amendments?

No. The amendments are effective as of the date of publication and there is no transition for implementation because the inclusion of Climate Change in the new amendment only provides clarity to the existing requirement.

Will BSI use Sustainability experts on all audits now?

No. BSI business processes ensure you always get an auditor competent for your industry sector and the relevant management system. When auditing clauses 4.1 and 4.2 the BSI audit team will ensure the organization has considered Climate Change and its relevance to your management system(s).
BSI audit teams will ensure you have considered Climate Change, and, if found relevant, that it is included in your organization’s objectives and evaluation of risk. If you found it to not be relevant, the BSI audit team will ensure your process for this determination is effective.

Will there be additional audit time which means increased costs?


Will my certificate have to be re-issued?

No, a revised certificate is not required to be issued for the sole purpose of recognizing the amendment to the management system standard(s).

Is BSI’s accreditation affected?

No, our accreditations remain valid and there is no change expected to our accreditation schedules. Some Accreditation Bodies (ABs) have already issued their own communications about these amendments. BSI has also had discussions with some ABs and share our internal communications, which have been received positively.

How can I get a copy of the revised standards?

The resolution requested ISO to automatically publish amendments to many management system standards. This happened on 23rd February, when these amendments were made available by ISO free of charge.
For clients who buy their standards from BSI, there will be an electronic consolidated version of these standards provided free of charge to past purchasers over the coming weeks. This has been communicated separately to BSI clients.

Is there any other support available from BSI?

Yes. Please contact us to discuss other relevant training courses and standards we could offer to support understanding in this area, also if there are other relevant management system certification and verification solutions you may benefit from (for example, ISO14001, ISO 50001.)