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ISO 14001 Context of the Organisation

Whether you’re new to ISO 14001: 2015 or looking to enhance your existing Environmental Management System (EMS), it is crucial to equip yourself with the ISO 14001 Context of the Organisation. 

According to Statista, approximately 217,600 ISO 14001 certificates have been issued in China alone. This highlights the increasing importance of environmental sustainability for organizational growth and recognition. 

Your organisation can also strive to improve its environmental management practices. Unsure of how to start? Read this blog to gain insights into the ISO 14001 Context of the Organisation. Discover its significance in achieving environmental sustainability goals and learn how it can benefit your organisation. 

Table of Contents

1) Understanding the ISO 14001: 2015

2) Understanding ISO 14001: 2015 Context of the Organisation

    a) Identifying internal and external issues

    b) Determining interested parties

    c) Defining the scope of the EMS

    d) Establishing objectives and targets

    e) Implementing the EMS

3) Why is the Context of the Organisation important?

4) Conclusion 

Understanding the ISO 14001: 2015 

ISO 14001, an internationally recognised standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) offers a framework within the ISO 14001 Life Cycle can follow to effectively manage their environmental responsibilities, ISO 14001 Software streamlines and enhances this process efficiently improve environmental performance, and achieve sustainable practices. The standard sets out the criteria for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and improving an EMS. 

It is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, which promotes a systematic approach to environmental management. The standard also emphasises the importance of proactive environmental management, continuous improvement, and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. 

By implementing it, organisations can enjoy a reduced environmental footprint by systematically identifying and addressing energy consumption, waste generation, and emissions. This can further lead to cost savings through improved resource efficiency and optimised operations.

ISO 14001 Foundation

Understanding ISO 14001: 2015 Context of the Organisation 

There are six implementable clauses within ISO 45001:2015, exploring differences in ISO 14001 Version 2004 vs 2015 involves the Context of the Organisation. It focuses on understanding the internal and external factors influencing an organisation’s environmental performance. 

It refers to the environment in which an organisation operates. It includes the internal aspects (organisation’s values, culture, resources, and processes), as well as the external aspects (legal requirements, market conditions, stakeholder expectations, and societal influences). 

Understanding this clause is essential for implementing ISO 14001 and driving environmental sustainability. By comprehensively assessing internal and external factors, organisations can proactively manage their environmental impacts, align their strategies with stakeholder expectations, and adapt to evolving market conditions. 

1) Identifying internal and external issues 

In the process of understanding the Context of the Organisation, it is vital to identify both internal and external issues that can impact an organisation’s environmental performance. By systematically assessing these issues, organisations can develop effective strategies to address them and achieve their environmental objectives. Let’s delve into the process of identifying internal and external issues:

a) Internal issues refer to organisational factors that can influence environmental performance. Some key areas to consider are organisational culture and values, operational processes, resource management, and employee engagement.

b) External issues encompass factors outside the organisation that can influence its environmental performance. Consider legal and regulatory requirements, market trends, customer expectations, stakeholder interests and more while dealing with external issues. 

2) Determining interested parties 

Another important aspect is determining the interested parties. These are individuals or groups who can affect, get affected, or perceive themselves to be affected by an organisation's environmental performance. 

They can directly or indirectly impact the organisation’s activities, products, services, or reputation. Identifying and understanding these interested parties is crucial for establishing open lines of communication and building positive relationships based on transparency and trust. To determine the interested parties relevant to an organisation's environmental management, consider the following:

a) Internal stakeholders: Employees at various levels, management teams, and decision-makers.

b) External stakeholders: Customers, suppliers, regulators and authorities, shareholders and investors. 

3) Defining the scope of the EMS 

Defining the scope of the Environmental Management System (EMS) is a crucial step in implementing ISO 14001: 2015. It provides a clear understanding of the boundaries, responsibilities, and environmental aspects to be considered within the organisation. 

By defining the scope, organisations can effectively manage their environmental impacts and ensure their EMS is focused and relevant. While defining the scope of EMS, organisations should consider the following:

a) Identify the organisational boundaries, like, the physical locations, facilities, departments, or specific areas of operation that will be covered.

b) Assess the environmental aspects and impacts associated with the organisation’s operations.

c) Consider relevant environmental laws, regulations, permits, and industry standards that apply to the organisation's environmental performance.

d) The scope should align with these goals and support the organisation's commitment to sustainability.

e) Engage with stakeholders to understand their perspectives and incorporate them into the scope. 

Learn how to implement and manage an effective EMS. Register for our ISO 14001 Training now! 

4) Establishing objectives and targets 

Establishing clear and measurable objectives and targets is fundamental to implementing an effective Environmental Management System (EMS). Objectives and targets provide a framework for improving environmental performance and achieving sustainability goals. By setting specific goals and defining measurable targets, organisations can enjoy the following benefits:

Understanding ISO 14001: 2015 Context of the Organisation
a) Focus and direction: Clear objectives and targets provide a sense of direction, enabling organisations to channel their efforts towards specific environmental improvements.

b) Motivation and engagement: Well-defined objectives and targets instil motivation among employees, create a sense of purpose, and foster their engagement and commitment to environmental performance.

c) Accountability and transparency: Objectives and targets establish a framework for accountability, allowing organisations to communicate their environmental commitments and progress to stakeholders.

d) Continuous improvement: The process of setting objectives and targets promotes a culture of continuous improvement, driving organisations to seek innovative and sustainable solutions.

e) Compliance and risk management: Objectives and targets also help organisations ensure compliance with environmental regulations and manage environmental risks effectively. 

5)  Implementing the Environmental Management System 

Implementing an effective Environmental Management System is a key step towards achieving environmental sustainability and compliance with ISO 14001: 2015. The implementation process involves several essential elements that organisations should consider. The following are the key considerations in the implementation of an EMS:

a) Ensure top management is committed to the EMS by setting clear environmental objectives, allocating necessary resources, and providing support and guidance throughout the implementation process.

b) Develop a comprehensive environmental policy that reflects the organisation's commitment to environmental sustainability. 

c) Clearly define the responsibilities of key personnel, and designate an EMS coordinator or team. 

d) Assess and identify the environmental aspects and impacts of the organisation's activities, products, and services. 

e) Understand and comply with applicable environmental laws, regulations, permits, and requirements by establishing procedures. 

f) Set clear and measurable objectives and targets aligned with the organisation's environmental policy and priorities to drive continuous improvement. 

g) Develop procedures and controls to manage the significant environmental aspects identified with ISO 14001 Document Control

h) Conduct training programs, awareness campaigns, and regular communication to foster a culture of environmental responsibility. 

i) Establish a robust system for documenting EMS processes, procedures, and records to track progress, demonstrate compliance, and facilitate ISO 14001 internal audit and external audits. 

j) Implement a monitoring and measurement system to track environmental performance, evaluate progress against objectives and targets, and identify areas for improvement. 

k) Develop and implement procedures to effectively respond to environmental emergencies, such as spills or accidents. 

l) Conduct regular management reviews of the EMS to assess its effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, and ensure ongoing compliance with ISO 14001

Contribute to effective environmental management with our ISO 14001 Internal Auditor course. 

Why is the Context of the Organisation important? 

The Context of the Organisation is crucial in ISO 14001: 2015 as it provides a foundation for effective environmental management. Understanding the context in which an organisation operates helps identify the internal and external issues that can impact its environmental performance. The following are some key points highlighting the importance of considering the Context of the Organisation:

Strategic alignment 

By understanding the context, organisations can align their environmental management efforts with their strategic goals and objectives. This alignment ensures that environmental considerations are integrated into the overall business strategy, enhancing the organisation's sustainability and competitive advantage. 

Risk assessment 

Examining the context enables organisations to identify potential ISO14001 Risks and Opportunities related to their environmental performance. It allows them to assess the potential impacts of their operations on the environment and proactively implement measures to mitigate risks and exploit opportunities. 

Stakeholder engagement 

Understanding the context helps organisations identify their stakeholders and understand their interests and expectations regarding environmental performance. By engaging with stakeholders, organisations can build trust, gather valuable insights, and enhance their environmental management practices to meet stakeholder needs. 

Legal and regulatory compliance 

Context analysis helps organisations identify the relevant legal and regulatory requirements applicable to their operations. This understanding ensures that the organisation remains in compliance with environmental laws and regulations, minimising the risk of non-compliance and associated penalties. 

Environmental impact assessment 

Considering the context allows organisations to assess the environmental aspects and impacts of their activities, products, and services. This assessment provides a foundation for establishing environmental objectives, setting targets, and implementing effective controls to minimise adverse environmental effects. 

Resource allocation 

Understanding the context helps organisations allocate appropriate resources to their environmental management efforts. It ensures that necessary resources, such as finances, personnel, and technology, are allocated strategically to achieve environmental objectives and targets. 

Continuous improvement 

The context analysis provides insights into emerging environmental trends, technological advancements, and changing stakeholder expectations. This knowledge enables organisations to improve their environmental management practices continuously, stay ahead of evolving challenges, and foster innovation for sustainable growth. 


Understanding and addressing the ISO 14001 Context of the Organisation is essential for effective environmental management. It enables organisations to navigate environmental challenges, meets stakeholder expectations, and drive positive change towards a greener and more sustainable world. 

Deepen your understanding of environmental management and sustainability with our ISO 14001 Foundation course. 

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