IBM’s Experience with ISO 14001

The ten principle embraced by the United Nations in its 1992 Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro included forward-thinking concepts for environmental management and sustainable development. In keeping with the global focus of balancing development and environmental care, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) used this same conference as a forum to publicly announce its intention to develop international consensus standards on environmental management. Some four years later, in September 1996, ISO 14001 – the Environmental Management Systems Standard – was published in final form. ISO 14001 is widely considered ISO’s most important standard in the environmental management series and is the only one of the series to which companies can become registered. ISO 14001 sets forth a framework for an environmental management system (EMS) which includes numerous substantive elements such as an environmental policy set by top management; identification of significant environmental aspects; the setting of environmental objectives and targets; clear identification and communication of roles and responsibilities within the EMS; and the establishment of procedures to ensure operational control of those activities which could affect the environment. The standard was carefully crafted in such as manner that it is applicable to organizations of varying sizes and circumstances, not just large corporations or those with economic leverage. Further, the standard provides a framework for organizations around the world to develop and EMS that foster environmental awareness and responsibility at all levels, as well as continual improvement of the EMS and environmental performance.



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