4.2 Understanding the Needs and Expectations of Interested Parties [ISO 14001]

What Are The Needs And Expectations Of Interested Parties?

ISO 14001 Clause 4.2 requires an organization to identify who their interested parties are and to assess their needs and expectations for inclusion into the environmental management system.

The needs of these interested parties should be considered within the environmental management system since their expectations and conditions may impose varying obligations on your business.

Contents

Who are 'Interested Parties'?

Interested parties are individuals or groups of people (stakeholders) who are interested in the environmental performance and operations of your business.

As such, you will need to determine which of their needs and expectations will become a compliance obligation.

Who are your interested parties?

Identify your Interested Parties

Ensure that your organization has properly identified its interested parties, and subsequently determined if any of their needs and expectations to be adopted as a compliance obligation.

Interested parties may change throughout the business’s lifespan; that is why the environmental management system needs to be reviewed and revised regularly (improved).

Examples of Interested Parties

Examples of interested parties include: customers, communities, contractors, suppliers, regulators, NGOs, and business partners, etc.

  • Governments and governmental bodies
  • Environmental, health and safety agencies and regulators
  • Suppliers and contractors
  • Certification bodies and authorities
  • Commercial trade associations and industry associations
  • Customers and consumers
  • Community and neighbours. including neighbouring industries
  • Academic institutions and employment agencies
  • Employees
  • Owners and investors
  • Research bodies
  • Non-governmental organisations, non-profit organisations, campaign groups and charities
  • Media
  • Insurance providers
  • Emergency responders

Interested parties can have an impact on your company, so careful consideration of their requirements is necessary.

Interested Parties - Example Matrix

Although not specifically required, objective evidence should ideally comprise a list, or a matrix of interested parties, their corresponding needs and expectations, and an indication of which of these has been accepted as a compliance obligation.

Interested Party Environmental Needs Environmental Expectations Related Compliance Obligations
Environmental Protection Agency Compliance with regulations and input to consultations Accurate and timely reporting Licence/permit compliance and reporting
Compliance with emission limits
Suppliers and Contractors Clear specifications on what is expected of them relating to the environment Consideration of supplier’s constraints and ability to support with environmental improvement Product specification stating environmental requirements

Provide environmental criteria when selecting suppliers, vendors or vetting contractors
Community and Neighbours No excess noise, emissions, or odour Providing a dedicated telephone line or email account for enquiries or complaints Regular reporting of monitoring data

In order to determine the relevancy of an interested party or their needs and expectations, your organization needs to answer: ‘Will this interested party (or their requirements) have an effect on the organization’s ability to achieve the intended outcomes of the environmental management system?’.

If the answer is ‘yes’, then their needs and expectations should be adopted as a requirement.

We suggest your rank the interested parties requirements according to their degree of Priority and their Relevance (e.g. 1 low, 5 high) to current objectives, policies and conformity of products and services as relevant to your EMS.

Communication

Communicating with stakeholders and interested parties, particularly in relation to compliance obligations is vital.

Communication with interested parties should be based on performance data generated by your organization’s EMS, which will require robust monitoring and measurement to ensure that the data is reliable.

You should ensure that the monitoring and measurement processes are included in the internal audit programme so your organization can assure itself that the checking processes and validated and that the data it is communicating is accurate.

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Updated: 21st October 2021
Author: Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard is our Compliance Director, responsible for content & product development.
But most importantly he is ISO's biggest fanboy and a true evangelist of the standards.
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